Who Feels the Cold More -- Men or
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May 12, 2011
By Zach Watson, Contributing Columnist

If you're in a relationship with a women, you have undoubtedly had
one of those arguments. You know, the one where you want to open
the window and she says, no, because she's
freezing.  Or, you want to
sleep open and natural but she needs 3 blankets.  Why is it that men
and women feel cold so differently? Why do women seem to get colder
so much more than men? Is it our imagination? Or is there a scientific
way to settle the question once and for all -- do women feel cold more
than men?

Evolution May Be Part of the Explanation

Mike Tipton, Professor of Human Physiology at the University of
Portsmouth as quoted in The Times said, “Man is a tropical animal. We
evolved on the Equator and have since migrated to all parts of the
planet. The only way we've kept warm is by modifying our behavior:
we've learnt to wear clothes, build buildings, make fire.”

Being non-adapted biological creatures we use our technology to
control the temperature of our environment.  We have heat, electric
blankets, clothes, hats, gloves, etc. to keep us warm.  And that use of
technology, to the naked eye, seems to vary between the sexes, men
roll down the window and women roll it up.

The question of which gender feels cold or heat more-- and if so why --
is a highly debated subject between leading researchers and scientists.  

There are many different factors contributing to the effects of
temperature on the body -- sleep, menstruation, Raynaud's syndrome,
menopause, diet, exercise, age, among others.  It is hard to pinpoint
specific causes that peg an exact reason that woman feel the cold more
than men.

A 1994 study presented at the Sixth Annual Conference on
Environmental Ergonomics in Montebello, Canada tried to settle the
question. The study, led by Dr. Peter Tikuisis of The University of
Toronto put 11 women and 14 men in  18C° of water for 90 minutes.  

The study found that the reason men and women feel cold differently
has to do with the amount of our body fat. As the study concluded,
“these findings suggest that no gender adjustments are necessary for
prediction models of cold response if body fatness and the ratio of
body surface area to size are taken into account and that a potential
gender advantage with regard to carbohydrate sparing during cold
water immersion is not supported.”

The Tikuisis study suggests that in an extreme circumstance, when a
body battles the cold,
that a man would have no better chance than a
woman if they had the same body fat/ surface area ratio
.  But it
doesn´t disprove that a woman gets noticeably chilly quicker than a

A 1998 study in the science journal The Lancet discovered that women
may feel colder, not because their entire bodies are cold, but because
their hands are colder.  The study, led by Dr. Han Kim of the University
of Utah School of Medicine, examined the hand and core temperatures
of 219 men and women.  Women averaged a higher core temperature
by 0.4 degrees than men.  But they have lower hand temperatures on
average by 2.8 degrees.  Having a lower hand temperature could prove
that women
feel colder faster than men because their extremities are
affected quicker than men’s extremities. “Women do tend to have more
body fat, which holds in heat and yet, counter-intuitively, may make the
extremities colder,” says Mike Tipton.

Don Young of the International Facility Management Association says
that the blood vessels of women are more constricted than man.  This
causes blood to be closer to the skin which tends to make them colder.  
Another reason could be, that on average, women do have less muscle
than men.  Muscle is known to generate a third of one’s body heat.

A 2007 Japanese study from the University of Tokushima Graduate
School found that women have a greater sensitivity to cold. Drawing
from a survey given to 154 men and 180 women, the study found that,
overall women have a greater sensitivity to cold, but that a man's
sensitivity to cold increases as he ages. Men with low body mass also
are more sensitive to cold than other men.

What about hormones? Is there any connection between hormones
and cold sensitivity? Apparently, not.  After a complete multivariate
analysis, no association with hormonal concentration could be drawn,
although at first it seemed, that men had a higher sensitivity to cold if
they also had low levels of the gonadal hormone FSH.   So, this is yet
another study that confirmed that cold sensitivity is linked with body
mass, and not to any inherent biological hormonal difference.  

Scientific evidence does point to, but does not prove, a few different
possible explanations. It could be that women feel cold in their
extremities before men.  It could be that women have fewer muscles to
create heat.  It could be that the blood vessels of women are more

Although, the most likely reason seems to be,  as the Tikuisis study
shows, that woman on average have a higher ratio of body fat/surface
ratio than men, causing them to lose heat faster.  

What does all this mean to you? It means that the next time your lady
complains of feeling colder than you,
believe her. Because, when it
comes to enduring cold, men are more like Eskimos and women are
more like Amazonians.

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