Men Are Not In Fact Warmer Than Women

It's widely believed that men have higher body temperatures than women. The observable truth is rather more complicated: there's not a noticeable difference in core temperatures for males and females, so the difference we observe is due to different skin temperatures and varying sleep patterns.

Picture by Bryan Brenneman

Over at The Conversation, Merlin Thomas explains how research demonstrates that adult male and female core temperatures are extremely close, typically hovering around 37 degrees Celsius. Female core temperatures can vary in pregnancy (or when taking hormonal contraceptives), but that variation is typically less than 1 degree.

Where we see variation is in skin temperature, which can range from a typical 33 degrees down to 25 degrees on cold nights for uncovered skin on extremities. In this arena, female temperatures are often lower by around 3 degrees. Differing sleep patterns also influence the gap.

Our perception of other people's warmth (or lack thereof) will generally reflect skin temperature, which is how the belief presumably came into being and also influences behaviour:

By having cooler skin, women appear to be more sensitive to incremental skin cooling, meaning it takes less (cold) to reach a point at which skin sensors "feel the cold", say enough is enough, and reach for the extra blanket.

The important lesson? It doesn't particularly matter what gender you (or your partner) is. If you feel cold, wrap up and don't blame your chromosomes.

Monday’s medical myth: men are hotter than women [The Conversation]


Comments

    "It’s widely believed that men have higher body temperatures than men"...

    Small typo in the first sentence: "It’s widely believed that men have higher body temperatures than men".

    Common mistake. It should be: "“It’s widely believed that men have LOWER body temperatures than men”. Duh.

      Haha a twist on the typical grammar nazi you find on the internet :P

        What, they aren't twisted enough already? That's what my grammar always said. Then again, she was always pretty nazi to me. Oh well, she men well.

    It's widely believed that men have higher body temperatures when they come in contact with other men.

    Women are way warmer.

    Two dudes. Now that's hot.

    Sleeping bags often have different 'comfort ratings' for men and for women. For instance, a sleeping bag I have is rated as being comfortable down to -7C for men, but only -1C for women.

      I never knew that. Interesting little titbit there - thanks Alex.

    >"It doesn’t particularly matter what gender you (or your partner) is. If you feel cold, wrap up and don’t blame your chromosomes."

    Um, isn't this exactly contrary to the quote above it: "By having cooler skin, women appear to be more sensitive to incremental skin cooling,..." ?

    i.e. women DO feel cooler easier, because their skin temperature is lower.

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