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 which used to be in order to stop them going out hunting when ill.

But are men really exaggerating, or might their experience of being sick actually feel worse than it does for women? Dr. Kyle Sue, a family medicine professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, wanted to find out, so he pored over as much sex-related flu research as he could find.
His review was published Monday in the famously cheeky Christmas issue of the BMJ—and though it doesn’t present any new findings, it’s likely to make men feel pretty smug about feeling sick.
Studies and surveys suggest that men with influenza are more likely than women with influenza to die or need hospitalization; that women tend to be more responsive to flu vaccines than men; and that men self-report taking longer to recover from viral respiratory illnesses than women, Sue writes.

Some studies, he adds, have also suggested that testosterone may suppress the immune system, pointing to a potential evolutionary basis for man flu. Strength and virility were once more important than immunity for testosterone-charged men, he writes, who were likely “to die from trauma before an infection kills them.” By that logic, man flu could even be a defense mechanism, keeping weakened men laid up and away from predators and competitors during the recovery process.


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