How Is Aging Different for Men and Women?

Hormones, life expectancy, and different bodily changes differ for men and women

Senior couple dancing in living room
Senior couple. MoMo Productions/Stone/Getty Images

There's no question that men age differently than women. Obviously, genetics, lifestyle, nutrition and environment affects how subjects within each gender age, but the rate and way that men and women age is completely different. Not only do the male and female body respond differently to aging, the male and female psychology differs greatly as well. Taken together, aging for men and women can be an entirely different experience.

Here are the main ways aging is different for men and women:

Life Expectancy

It is a simple fact that, almost everywhere in the world, women live longer than men. Some think that the reason for longer life expectancy for women is that men do more dangerous things and have more dangerous occupations (being in the armed forces, for example). That explains some, but not all, of the differences. Other explanations include the fact that women are more likely to see a doctor and (possibly) be diagnosed earlier for health problems. Bottom line: women live years longer than men worldwide.

Sex and Aging Differ Between Men and Women

Sex and aging are very different for men and women. A woman's body responds to aging dramatically (with menopause) while a man's body responds more gradually. Learn more with these two articles:

Hormones Differ Between Men and Women

Different hormones are affected during aging between men and women as they age.

For women, estrogen and aging are a major concern, especially during menopause and after. For men, testosterone and aging are the dominate hormonal component of aging.

Centenarians and Aging

Now let's look at the people who make it to 100 or beyond. They are called centenarians. Men and women can both get to 100+ (though women are more likely to make it than men).

There are some differences between men and women who make it to age 100 though:

  • 24% of male centenarians and 43% of female centenarians fit the profile of “survivors.” These are people who had a diagnosis of (at least) one of the age-related illnesses before age 80.
  • 32% percent of men and 15% of women over 100 fit the profile of "escapers" or people who did not have any major health conditions.
  • 44% of men and 42% of women over 100 are "delayers" or people who did not have a major diagnosis until after the age of 80.

The take home message here, men who make it to 100 are much more likely to be "lucky" than women, who seem to be able to endure long-term illnesses better.

Brain Aging for Men and Women

Brain aging is also different for men and women. Men who are overweight, diagnosed with diabetes or have had a stroke are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment while women are more likely if they were dependent on others for daily tasks and lacked a strong social network (click on the link above for a review of a full study).

Health Screenings for Men

Men, here is a list of screenings and tests that you should have done to make sure you catch disease and illness early. Some of these tests are the same for men and women, but many are different.

Health Screenings for Women

Ladies, here is your list. Check it out and be sure to schedule those appointments.

For more interesting insight into how we age, visit our Aging FAQs.