The man flu gets real

All those men who’ve chosen to ignore science in recent years have suddenly decided it’s not such a bad thing now that it’s declared that they’re suffering more than women when it comes to the flu.

The drama is real. It’s right there in a British medical journal which declared that men are immunologically inferior to women.

But we’ll be fine; don’t worry about us. Nothing perks us up like a little affirmation.

Researchers speculated that that sex dependent hormones influence the severity of influenza. Cells cultured from premenopausal women had a stronger immune response to the flu virus than those of men of the same age, but this was not the case with postmenopausal women.

In theory, we would see either less drama in older men with the flu, or more drama in older women with the flu, but — you may noticed — we don’t. But who are we to question science?

Not surprisingly, perhaps, is the lead researcher was a man in Newfoundland who was tired of being accused of exaggerating his flu symptoms.

Many women are are man flu deniers.

“God help the man trying to get through ‘man flu’ with a wife who’s been through chemo,” Katie Tuthill, a cancer survivor and former Boston TV anchor, tells the Boston Globe.

She described a familiar scenario: the kids get sick; then mom gets sick (but, importantly, still does the dishes and laundry and makes sure everyone gets to their sports games); then dad comes down with the illness, and his needs are so much greater than everyone else’s.

“When the ‘man flu’ comes,” Tuthill said, “you are at compassion fatigue.”

That’s the sort of thing that leads some men not to tell their significant others that they’re sick at all.

“Some men called me their heroes. Some women called me sexist/misogynist. Likewise, there were men who thought I made the entire male gender look weak, and also called me sexist,” Kyle Sue, the researcher on the study, said.

For the sickly man, the same issue of the medical journal has some fascinating reading to pass the time. Another study it published compares the sex advice of Siri and Google Assistant.

Science is awesome.

  • Al

    Given what I’ve heard anecdotally from many friends, wives’ collective frustration with the “man flu” has less to do with pain than with social expectations that women still maintain the basic functions of the household. Yup, getting sick sucks, and parents don’t get a day off. Man/woman up and get on with it.

    • Barton

      This is it exactly.

    • Jerry

      But don’t go to work

  • >>Are men immunologically inferior?<<

    I'd posit that men, as a whole, are generally inferior as a whole to women.

    • jon

      I’ve seen multiple studies that have linked testosterone to shorter life spans, longer recovery times, worse post trauma results, and higher infection rates…

      Other studies of royal lineages from 100’s of years back found that eunuchs (either intentional or accidental) could live on average 20 years longer than the average man of the same status…

      Basically we’ve known for a while that testosterone in higher quantities makes the human body less resilient…

      • Jerry

        But it allows us to sing bass. Which is worth it, right?

        • I can’t sing at all. Talk about bad luck in my end of the gene pool.

          • Jerry

            At least you got a really impressive beard out of it.

            No, wait. That appears to be a corgi.

          • Dang right on the beard and the corgi. And I’d fight a bear for my corgi if I had to.

          • Jerry

            Like a bear would mess with a corgi.

            Edit: and I just reread that story and realized it was about a corgi. My bad.

          • True. They are ankle biters.

      • Ben Chorn

        In Hot Springs, South Dakota there is a mammoth dig site that has uncovered over 60 mammoths. When I last visited they mentioned ALL of the fossils were males and many were juvenile. As this site: explains:

        “It is believed that the if mammoth behavior is anything like modern pachyderm activity, they would have lived in a matriarchy where males are occasionally expelled from the group and are left to wander alone. This isolated existence may have led the shunned mammoths to stray towards the sinkhole which, once they fell in, they could not escape from.”

        One other theory was the males would fight each other around the hot spring which would cause them to fall in.

        • Mammoth dude to other mammoth dude: “Hold my beer and watch this!” Darwin Awards to follow.

      • The vet told us our dogs would live longer if neutered. When comparing species, mileage may vary.

        • Rob


        • jon

          I just had double knee surgery done on my dog, likely in part because he was neutered too early… kind of pissed at the humane society for that one…

          Apparently with all all the hormones puppies produce puppies don’t grow right, and it can present as problems later in life…

  • Rob

    I’m not sure if I feel better or worse knowing about these findings…

    • Bob Sinclair

      As a man you’ll probably feel worse…

  • Jay Sieling

    The Christmas – New Years issue of BMJ is known to be lighthearted. “The soul of the Christmas issue is originality. We don’t want to publish anything that resembles anything we’ve published before. While we welcome light-hearted fare and satire, we do not publish spoofs, hoaxes, or fabricated studies.” There seems to be a bit of a tongue in cheek conclusion to this ‘study’. The fact males are more likely to die of the flue than females does not mean they suffer more. It means they can’t take it. Can’t suffer if you don’t survive. My son is finishing a Master’s in Public Health at Columbia and shared this study with us. He points out the “light hearted” aspect of the study: ‘it was a narrative review (the weakest/briefest overview of science literature around the topic) and this guy did it alone (should be done in a team/have second authors). The comparison of sex advice from artificial intelligent agents would also confirm the light hearted aspect of publication.

  • Brian Simon

    As far as I can tell, a few soft dudes are ruining it for the rest of us.

  • Ben Chorn

    This reminds me of reading through safety plans and seeing this note under cold stress:

    “Major risk factors for cold-related stresses include:

    Being male increases a person’s risk to cold-related stresses. Men experience far greater death rates due to cold exposure than women, perhaps due to inherent risk-taking activities, body-fat composition, or other physiological differences.”

    I always found it somewhat sexist, but maybe there is some science in there.