When a man gets sick, watch out! All hell is about to break loose. Men are notorious for complaining about being sick waaaaaay more than women. It might seem like a man is actually very slowly dying in the most painful way possible, but nope! He just has a cold. And not only is he suffering through it, he's making every one else around him suffer through it, too. Fun for the whole family!
While women have long been called "the weaker sex," clearly this doesn't apply when they get sick. A woman could feed her family, pick up the entire house, balance the checkbook, run a marathon and build a skyscraper with her bare hands all while mortally wounded. That's just how biology works. Men on the other hand? Not so much.
It's easy to think that men are being big babies. What other label would you put on someone who complains and cries when they get a cold? But as it turns out, there might be a scientific reason why men make it much more known more than women when they get ill. New evidence suggests that men and women might be wired to react to illnesses in different ways.
A study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that estrogen, the female hormone, might actually strengthen the immune system of women. So the same hormone that makes it so you spend time once a month in bed with menstrual cramps makes it so you're less likely to get sick. There's a silver lining to everything!
Conversely, testosterone, the male hormone, makes it harder for a body to defend itself against viruses. So not only are men more likely to whine when they get sick, they're more likely to get sick in the first place. Nature really messed up on that one, huh?
But there are additional factors besides hormone that predisposes men to be sissies when they have a cold. The area of the brain which causes a fever during an inflammatory illness is larger in men than in women. This could contribute to an increase in symptoms whenever they get sick. So when men get sick, they really get sick.
Women are generally thought to be better listeners - including in what their body is telling them. A study from the University of Glasgow found that men are "less attuned" to biofeedback signals. Basically, this means that they suck at figuring out how their body is actually feeling. Makes sense!
Because of this, the scientists at the University of Glasgow posed the theory that men and women tolerate symptoms at different levels, as opposed to having different symptoms. Men are straight-up wired to perceive their symptoms as more severe than how a woman would perceive them.
Turns out, being sick is more than just being around germs. It's how your body reacts to those germs. “It isn’t always the presence of the microbe or the presence of the virus that makes us sick,” said Sabra Klein, an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s our immune response, and the research shows that males have a heightened response that summons cells to the site of infection, which contributes to the overall feeling of sickness.”
Another study conducted on mice exposed both male and female mice to the same flu-like bacteria. They found that male mice displayed more symptoms than female mice. Not only that, the male mice took longer to recover than the female mice and had more fluctuation of body temperature. Even animals do it!
Science has really been trying to give us a lot of answers to the age old question of "Why are men such big babies when they're sick?" A theory put forth by scientists at the University of Cambridge posits that men just evolved to have a weaker immune system than woman. Why? Because they like to take more risks than women, and for some reason this means they have a lower immune system? Maybe.
Another theory believes that women have just built up more resistances to illness. Why? Because they're more likely to pass on germs to their kids. So when Mommy says she doesn't have time to be sick, she means it!
Whatever the reason, listening to a man moan and groan over having a cold will never not be annoying. Even if you understand the scientific reasons why, that complaining is going to be worse than the illness itself. Is there a cure for that?