Not only is the flu vaccine generally more effective in women than in men, our bodies are better at fighting off the flu virus if we do end up getting infected, according to a study from Stanford University School of Medicine. In fact, the more “manly” a guy is–for instance, if he’s muscle-bound, has a strong jaw and/or a deep voice, which indicates a higher testosterone level–the less impact the flu vaccine has on him and the sicker he’s likely to get from the flu.
As the researchers explain it, testosterone affects certain genes that dampen a man’s immune response, so the more testosterone he has, the more vulnerable he is to the flu virus and the worse off he is when a virus catches hold.
One theory why the researchers think this occurs: In the early days when men were hunters and faced battle with animals and other people on a regular basis, this dampened immune effect might have helped protect his body from overreacting to cuts, scrapes and other injuries, which could result in an even more harmful condition called sepsis that could lead to death.
While battling the flu is horrible no matter what your sex, the next time a guy in your life catches it and is throwing a major pity party, you may want to give him a little sympathy. He probably really is suffering as much as he says he is.
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