We’ve all been there before. The flu has condemned you to your bed, and your girl shows no sympathy. She tells you to “man up”—that you’re exaggerating again and just need to get off your ass. It’s a phenomenon pejoratively referred to as the “man flu,” and it paints us men as overgrown babies who love to whine about getting sick.
At last, we sufferers of the “man flu” have been vindicated.
A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that men are at a gender disadvantage during flu season. When researchers mixed nasal cells from men and women with the influenza A virus, women showed a remarkable resistance.
Dr. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins University, who led the research, found that this is because women have unique estrogen receptors, which boast an antiviral effect. Their presence impairs the flu virus’s ability to replicate in cells, which explains why your girl never seems to get sick and you do.
This study validates previous findings that estrogen fends off HIV, Ebola, and hepatitis. Dr. Klein adds that such research is shifting how medicine looks at the female sex hormone: “We see clinical potential in the finding that therapeutic estrogens that are used for treating infertility and menopause may also protect against the flu.”
So, not only does estrogen bless women with soft skin and shapely breasts but it may also save us all.