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8 ways men and women age differently

January 9, 2017

The existence of fart jokes, belching contests and bra-snapping would appear proof-positive that boys are less mature than girls during childhood and adolescence. Now science validates it, with UK researchers discovering that girls tend to optimize brain connections earlier, so they generally mature faster than boys in certain cognitive and emotional areas.

But while women have the edge in growing up, how do we compare to men when it comes to growing old—something with which we boomers are getting all too familiar? Here’s a look at some of the differences between the sexes:

Women live longer, perhaps because we have no balls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life expectancy of American women is nearly five years greater than that of men (81.2 years vs. 76.3 years). In fact, women live longer than men in every country of the world by an average of 4.5 years, according to UN data.

Numerous studies have suggested women live longer than men primarily because we make healthier lifestyle choices—which would suggest that men still haven’t wised up as they’ve gotten older.

But a Korean scientist recently analyzed records of 19th century court life, including information about 81 eunuchs whose testicles were removed before puberty. His analysis revealed that the eunuchs not only lived about 20 years longer than other men in the court, but they were 130 times more likely to celebrate their 100th birthday than the average man living in Korea at the time. The conclusion? People without testicles live longer. So now you know.

Men (still) think about sex more…

In a Web MD article, the lead author of a major survey on sexual practices contends that the majority of men (presumably those with testicles) under age 60 think about sex at least once a day (that’s all?), while only about a quarter of women in that demographic say they think about it that often. As we age, both men and women think about sex less—but men still fantasize about it twice as often as women. The prevalence of unsolicited dick pics sent via the internet would tend to affirm this, don’t you think?

…but sex is more dangerous for older men’s health

A study of participants in the National Social Life, Health and Aging project at the University of Chicago, however, raises the possibility that sexually active older men are at significantly greater risk for heart attacks, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems than their less sexually active male peers. But for older women, the study shows that “extremely pleasurable or satisfying” sex appears to protect against cardiovascular disease. How’s that for irony?

Male skin less susceptible to signs of aging

Men’s testosterone levels make their skin about 25% thicker than a woman’s, according to the International Dermal Institute. Men also have more collagen density, rougher skin texture and more natural skin moisture, helping to slow the effects of aging. Both sexes lose collagen at about the same rate after age 30, but that rate spikes in women for about five years after menopause, then slows—while men’s skin ages more gradually. Fortunately (for the cosmetics industry, anyway), we women spend billions on anti-aging skin care products to help even the score.

Different vulnerability to neurological disease

Science has found gender differences in our susceptibility to certain neurological diseases that come with age. For example, Parkinson’s disease is more prevalent in men, and they tend to be diagnosed with it earlier than women. Conversely, women seem to be more quickly and adversely affected by Alzheimer’s disease. There are no clear-cut answers why, but a recent study revealed that deep (subcortical) structures in the brain appear to age faster in men than women, possibly explaining why men are more susceptible to diseases, like PD, that affect these parts of the brain. There’s nothing funny about this shit.

Men lose it more than women (hair, that is)

Both men and women tend to lose some quantity and thickness of their hair as they age, related to heredity and shifting hormone levels. Pattern baldness affects many more men than women, however, with 80% of men showing signs of male pattern baldness (when hair thins and recedes to that “horse shoe” shape) by age 70. With female pattern baldness, hair thins mainly on the top and crown, and rarely progresses to total baldness, as in men. Women also find that as the hair on our heads thins, we start sprouting coarse facial hairs. Which is why every woman 50+ should own a magnifying mirror and tweezers.

Women grow happier as they age…

After age 50, women seem better able than men to embrace aging and handle the challenges it presents. Yale psychology professor Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema conducted a study that led her to conclude women’s natural strengths—empathy, listening ability, patience—help us tackle the problems that arise as we age, while men showed less inclination to use these coping skills, leaving them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety in the face of difficulty.

In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Nolen-Hoeksema said, “There is increasing evidence that most women feel a greater sense of fulfillment, self-actualization, reaching their peak—whatever you want to call it—as they grow older.” That’s a good thing, since we tend to live longer than men to begin with.

…but male centenarians are healthier than females

We women are really going to need those coping skills if we make it to 100. While female centenarians outnumber men by 4 to 1, women are more likely to suffer from serious health conditions than men who reach that age, according to UK research that studied more than 11,000 people who turned 100 between 1995 and 2013. Like guys’ “swimmers” that fertilize our eggs, only strong and hardy men make it to the 100 club, I guess.

Regardless of which sex ages “better,” the fact remains that none of us is getting out of here alive. Each day is a gift—and for us baby boomers, there are likely fewer of them ahead of us than behind us. So live life fully and forget your age. And remember:

Growing older’s not
so bad when you consider
the alternative.

What do you think? How do you feel about aging? Have you grown more comfortable in your own skin as you’ve gotten older? Would you turn back the clock if you could? Are you “not going gentle into that good night?” Please share…


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  • 29 thoughts on “8 ways men and women age differently

    1. Rachel says:

      This is a fascinating post. And slightly funny only because it just proves men aren’t nearly as intelligent as women. 😉

      Thank you for sharing this!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thanks for your comment, Rachel! I think there are smart guys out there–especially the ones who choose women like us as partners, right? 🙂

    2. Carla says:

      This is all so fascinating to me right now.
      I’ve been thinking so much about women and how our tribe grows tighter as we age. And, at least here, that is the source of much happiness.

      1. Roxanne says:

        The physical crap that can come with aging aside, the mental/emotional upside of getting older (more confidence, clarity, less concern for what others think) is definitely happy-making! Thank you for commenting, Carla.

    3. Hi Roxanne! Great information about how and why men AND women age–and how we do it. But who wants to merely “grow older” if we aren’t as healthy? Good reminders to start designing our life so that we embrace and enjoy the benefits of aging, instead of just living a long time because we are afraid to die. ~Kathy

      1. Roxanne says:

        Excellent point, Kathy! There’s so much we can do to help ourselves live as fully as we can, for as long as we can.

    4. ANNA OLSON says:

      “But for older women, the study shows that “extremely pleasurable or satisfying” sex appears to protect against cardiovascular disease. How’s that for irony?” This just goes to show that we [older women] need to consider taking a young lover purely in the interests of good health. Can we get a doctor to write that on a prescription???

      I can see it now: “I still love you, hubby. But I have to sleep with (insert name) for 30 minutes at least three times a week if I want to stay healthy. You can’t argue with the health experts.”

      1. Roxanne says:

        And, of course, you’d need to point out that you’re doing this for HIS health as well, since sex could be dangerous for hubby if he’s older…:-)

        1. Anna says:

          Absolutely!

    5. Haralee says:

      So interesting. Maybe if men want to live longer they should consider a ballectomy? I have accepted aging because I had a life threatening incidence so I am grateful and happy to live another day!

      1. Roxanne says:

        That’s a terrific attitude to have, Haralee (not sure how many men would take you up on your suggestion, though!).

    6. Thanks for this FUN and interesting info.
      Who knew? Oh, I do now!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thanks for checking it out, Laura Lee, and for taking the time to comment!

    7. This one is bookmarked! I am now doubly glad not to have balls.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Glad to have provided some useful information, Anna! I am doubly glad to get comments like yours!

    8. Lori says:

      Great post! I am very comfortable as I age. I’m keeping active and learning new things. I feel that I finally have time!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Good for you! It’s so important to stay engaged and connected. Thanks for your comment!

    9. Jennifer says:

      I have definitely gotten more comfortable in my own skin as I’ve gotten older. But I had to laugh at your very first line, because for boys, the farting, belching and bra snapping doesn’t diminish as they age.

      1. Roxanne says:

        That is one of the best things about getting older, isn’t it (the feeling more comfortable in our own skin)? And you make a good point about the boy behavior…:-)

    10. Sheena says:

      That was pretty ironic regarding men and aging. Well I can’t say I don’t think about it. Usually like when you are watching a movie and you pause it to use the bathroom, and you see you have watched almost all the film and there is a dot marking the small amount left. That is an analogy of what is left in our life time line. I don’t have longevity in my family so everyday better count for fun and feeling joy if possible. I try to make it a good day every day. My girlfriends and children add to that feeling of happiness. My husband doesn’t believe in eating right or taking care of his skin, although he had a melanoma once which, if I told you how hard it was to get him to a dermatologist, you wouldn’t believe it. Yet it probably saved his life! He believes when your time is up, it’s up so why give up the food you like. Well I have to say it has been a uphill battle on that one! Finally he tells me it’s all about genes anyway! He is worry free, not me. Ending on a positive note we are enjoying our senior years together each on his own way. We dance a lot and that is great exercise!

      1. Roxanne says:

        What a great analogy about how the graphics depict the time left on a movie and how that applies to our lives at this stage! And you certainly have a healthy attitude about making each day count. I applaud your efforts to keep Rick on a healthy path–I can appreciate that it’s not easy! Thanks, as always, for commenting, Sheena.

    11. I love the way your mind works. I was dyin’ at the idea that you found eunuch research! An intriguing post today.

      1. Roxanne says:

        The internet is a wondrous thing! Thanks for your comment, Carol!

    12. Love this and found it funny/not funny! As much as I complain about the aches and pains of growing older, I agree – it’s better than the alternative!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Aging is a double-edged sword, isn’t it? You’re sort of damned if you do/damned if you don’t. But yes, given the choice, getting older definitely IS better than the alternative! Thanks for commenting, Lois.

    13. I guess all those TV commercials for ED treatment could be leading our men down the path of physical destruction! Glad we older women keep our hair and our satisfaction as we age.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Another reason to get rid of those ridiculous commercials, Molly! Thank you for commenting!

    14. The most annoying thing about aging is the way my bladder is absolutely fine all day and then decides to work overtime all night.

      Great post. Lots of useful info. The next time my husband interrupts my bedtime reading with a bodily function that has no real use now, I will point out the tremendous risk to his health and I am sure he will thank me.

      1. Roxanne says:

        There are all sorts about aging that are annoying, aren’t there? But it’s still better than the alternative! Thank you for commenting, Gilly!

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