Ok girls, we may have to be nicer to our men when they are sick. A scientific study in the Journal of Physiology in 2016 found the reason for “Man Flu!” While women often complain about how whiny their sick men are, there may actually be some validity to men’s whimpering. Apparently the female hormone estrogen provides some anti-viral protection against Influenza type A. This means women may have a shorter and less severe course of flu then their male counterparts. Researcher, Sabra Klein, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University was the lead investigator of the study. She said, “Other studies have shown that estrogens have antiviral properties against HIV, Ebola and hepatitis viruses.” That is great news for women. We have extra protection against viruses because of our estrogen production. Our men, however, may experience the flu and other viruses more intensely.
How do Monthly Hormone Fluctuations effect Women’s Immunity?
We can’t let men completely off the hook. Our hormones don’t stay constant throughout the month. During the premenstrual week, our estrogen levels drop fast, leading to lower energy, poor sleep, irritability, and an achy body. Those symptoms do not bode well for anyone around us when you add a cold or flu on top. While few studies have been performed looking at immunity during different stages of your monthly cycle, if estrogen provides protection, then we can speculate that we might lose that buffer when our estrogen levels drop.
For both men and women, the best way to fight a virus is prevention. Be sure to wash your hands frequently, eat a healthy balanced diet, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep each night.