There are some distinct differences in the health of men and women, from a biological standpoint and from a social and behavioral standpoint. Understanding these differences can unlock a better understanding of your own health. We’ll look at the differences between mens and womens health in this article.
According to an article by Harvard Health, men are the weaker sex when it comes to health. The article goes into great detail as to why that is. We’ve outlined the core points and several statistics from that article below…
Women Outlive Men
Since 1950, women have continually out lived men by about 5 years, varying slightly by race, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Because of that, over 50% of women over 65 are widows, and women outnumber men more and more as they age. (“At age 5, for every 100 American women, there are only 77 men. At age 85, the disparity is even greater, with women outnumbering men by 2.6 to 1.”)
Men Have More Illnesses
Apparently, women visit their doctors more than men, but men cost the healthcare industry much more than women. That’s because men tend to have more chronic illnesses and disabilities than women, and they have higher death rates for the top 10 leading killers in America, such as heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease and accidents.
Female Fetuses Survive More Than Male Fetuses
Although more males are conceived than females (115 males for every 100 females), male fetuses die more often before birth. In addition, they are more likely to be born prematurely and are 18% more likely to die before they reach their first birthday.
Biological factors that explain the differences in men’s and women’s health includes things like chromosomes, hormones, reproductive anatomy and metabolism.
While both men and women are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes, the 23rd chromosome determines the sex (women have a XX pair and men have a XY). Since the Y chromosome contains a lot less genes than the X chromosome, it is speculated that that could lead to decreased health in men because they don’t have enough normal genes to counterbalance the “bad” genes.
Hormones could play a role as well. For example, estrogen raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and since women have more estrogen than men, that could explain why women typically develop heart disease about 10 years later than men. And it’s not hard to understand that since men have more testosterone, they tend to be more aggressive and take greater risks, which can result in premature death.
The male sex hormone, testosterone, can cause prostate cancer, however men do have the advantage when it comes to their reproductive anatomy. That’s because testosterone levels drop slowly for men as they age, while estrogen drops drastically during menopause in women, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis in women. Plus, women are about 45% more likely to die from breast cancer as men are from prostate cancer. In general, women are much more prone to reproductive issues as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.
More women tend to be obese than men, but when men are overweight, it tends to cause more issues for them because men tend to carry their weight in their waists while women carry it in their hips and thighs. Being overweight in the waistline area greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Differences in Brain Anatomy
As we know from the famous book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, men and women communicate so differently that it is like they are from different planets. According to an article by Masters of Healthcare, women communicate more effectively. They talk through issues and intuitively pick up on other people’s emotions, while men are more task-oriented, they hold their emotions inside, and they don’t tend to talk about their problems.
Men tend to process thoughts in their left brain, which is great for problem-solving. Women tend to use both hemispheres of the brain, which sometimes means they lag in the problem-solving department, however, this trait does help them solve problems more creatively.
Women have a larger deep limbic system than men, making them more naturally expressive and more in touch with their feelings. This helps them connect with others and it helps them feel compassion for others. This does make women more susceptible to depression, however, especially during hormonal shifts, such as after childbirth or during their menstrual cycle.
Men and women perceive pain differently, with women experiencing it more intensely than men. Men experience pain in the right amygdala (the part of the brain that is activated during pain), while women experience it in the left. The right amygdala connects more with external function and the right connects more with internal function, which might explain why women seem to feel pain more intensely than men. Women are more likely to seek treatment for their pain than men, however.
In general, men are more likely to have issues related to language, while women are more likely to have issues related to mood. This is due to the ways that men and women use the two hemispheres of their brain differently.
Social & Behavioral Factors
Social factors that explain some of the differences in men’s and women’s health includes things like work stress and a lack of social support (women are 2.5 times more likely than men to have social support), but the main factor that justifies the differences is behavior. This includes things like diet, lack of exercise, risky behavior, aggression, alcohol use, smoking, substance abuse, and lack of routine medical care.
Diet & Exercise
Women tend to eat better than men. They eat more vegetables, fruits and whole foods, while men eat more meat and processed foods. When it comes to exercise, men and women both tend to require more than they get.
Risky Behavior & Aggression
Men tend to exhibit more hostility and anger as a result of stress, which is a heart disease risk factor. Women generally express themselves better, understand their emotions more, and have stronger relationships than men, all of which can help reduce stress.
Men are much more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as alcohol, drugs, smoking, unprotected sex, firearms, and dangerous activities. They tend to be more aggressive and engage in more violence. Many men could improve their health by learning self-control and anger management.
Smoking & Alcohol and Substance Abuse
24% of men and 18% of women smoke. Sadly, 30% of teenage boys and 21% of teenage girls smoke, which demonstrates that this trend is not improving. Men are 80% more likely to abuse drugs than women. When it comes to alcohol, men are twice as likely to become alcoholics. One to two drinks a day has been shown to help a man’s health by reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, while greater amounts increase the risk of liver disease, heart failure, various cancers, hypertension, accidents and traumatic death.
Lack of Routine Medical Care
Women think about their health, educate themselves, get checkups and screenings, and have health insurance more than men.
Many men tend to look at their wives as nags when they mention ways that they could improve their health. For the majority of men, health isn’t top on their priority list (for those of you who fall outside of that generalization, we salute you!). The facts don’t lie though men! It’s time to participate more in your health so you can see better results!