Women have long moaned about the men in their lives coming down with “man flu” and turning into feeble, moaning boys. But according to a new study, there is actually some truth to the idea of man flu.
It all comes down to our cavemen ancestors – men have weaker immune systems than women, said to be evolution’s way of stopping them going out hunting when ill.
Adult men have a higher risk of hospital admission and higher rates of influenza-associated deaths compared with women. They are more susceptible to complications and have higher mortality from many acute respiratory diseases.
A study of male and female cells found that pre-menopausal women are better at fighting off the common cold. Testosterone may be to blame for suppressing men’s immune systems, while a female sex hormone boosts women’s.
There may actually be an evolutionary benefit to a less robust immune system, as it has allowed men to invest their energy in other biological processes, such as growth, secondary sex characteristics, and reproduction.
Apart from studies into male and female immune systems, scientific research has never been undertaken into whether the term “man flu” is specifically accurate. However, lying on the couch, not getting out of bed and refusing assistance could also be evolutionary behaviour patterns that protect against predators.
Perhaps now is the time for male friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort.
With no televised football allowed.