Aging Differences Between Men and Women

May 24, 2016

Much of how people age depends on genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle and nutritional choices, but did you know that much of the aging process can depend on gender as well?

Men and women age differently. For example, men and women have consistently different bone structure. The opening in the skull around the eyes in men is much larger than it is women. Because there is less bone support in that area, men typically have more hollow, deep-set eyes that tend to develop more bags in comparison to women as they age. What other aging differences are there between men and women? Let’s take a look:

Life Expectancy

Across the world and across generations, it seems that women often outlive men. Doctors and scientists have attributed differences in life expectancy to a variety of factors. Women are less prone to heart-related diseases and smoking-related illnesses compared to men because these diseases and conditions occur later in life for many women. This can be attributed to a woman’s supply of estrogen, which helps make arteries strong and flexible. Women also tend to make healthier lifestyle choices and get screened and tested for health issues more frequently and far earlier in life.

Life Choices

From more physically-demanding or more labor intensive career choices to high-adrenaline recreational decisions, men have been shown to make riskier decisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men, whereas it is sixth for women. This is in part due to the frontal lobe—a part of the brain that deals with responsibility and risk calculation—which develops more slowly in men.

Hormonal Differences

Some of the greatest differences between men and women occur at the hormonal level. This can be seen in the differences between menopause and andropause. For women, menopause occurs around the age of 50 and happens when a woman stops menstruating and stops producing estrogen. For men, hormonal differences occur less drastically and overtime. Testosterone levels decline slowly and, unlike menopause, men can still reproduce and create sperm well into their old age.

Stronger Social Ties

Long-lasting and strong relationships have been shown to benefit the life expectancy and increase the quality of life in most adults. A 2010 study at Brigham Young University suggested that people with strong social connections have a 50% lower chance of dying than those with fewer social connections. A stronger social network or a strong bond with another person can promote better emotional health and a happier disposition. Friends often hold each other accountable for physical, mental, and emotional checkups.

Gender is one of the biggest factors in terms of how men and women age. Between gender, genetics, environmental factors, nutrition, and lifestyle habits, it’s a fact of life that people age differently.