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Decoding the Differences (and Surprising Similarities!) Between the Sexes

Have you ever wondered why men have more hair on their bodies than women? Or why women seem to feel cold more easily than men? Science writer Patricia Barnes-Svarney answers these questions and more in her new book, Why Do Women Crave More Sex in the Summer: 112 Questions That Women Keep Asking—and That Keep Everyone Else Guessing. We recently chatted with Barnes-Svarney about some of the book’s more surprising revelations. So why do women seem colder than men? Anecdotally, it seems to be the case that women feel cold more easily than men, and it turns out that there is a scientific explanation. Women’s bodies are designed to pull heat towards the torso, to help protect vital organs as well as any fetus that may be growing during pregnancy. However, that means there is less blood flowing to the extremities, and when our hands and feet get cold, our whole body feels cold. What about the hair situation—why do men have so much more body hair? This is thanks to hormones—specifically androgens and testosterone. Women also have these hormones (that’s why both sexes get dark, coarse hair in certain areas during puberty), but men have much higher levels of them. And genetics plays a role, too, in terms of hair color, thickness, and location. So some men may have lots of thick hair on their chests (or in other areas), while others have very little. You also note some surprising similarities between the sexes. For example, women have Adam’s apples just like men. That’s right; males and females both have an Adam’s apple, but the cartilage covering it forms at different angles during puberty—about 90 degrees for men versus 120 degrees for women, making the area appear flatter in females. Another shocker: Men can have hot flashes! Yes, but for different reasons. Men can’t go through menopause, because of course they don’t menstruate. But that overheated feeling can occur in men due to a health condition like hyperthyroidism, a side effect from a medication like Niacin, or a sudden testosterone deficiency. And as testosterone levels gradually decline as men age, they can also experience other symptoms associated with menopause, like weight gain and wrinkles.


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