How Is Aging Different for Men and Women?

Hormones, life expectancy, and 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 affect how people of either 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's a simple fact that, almost everywhere in the world, women live longer than men. Some think that the reason for a longer life expectancy for women is that men often participate in more dangerous activities and tend to have more dangerous occupations, like being in the armed forces. 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 with health problems.

The bottom line is that women live years longer than men worldwide. In the United States, the average life expectancy is 78.6 years for both genders. For women, it's 81.1 years and for men, it's 76.1 years.

Sex

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.

Hormones

Different hormones are affected by aging for 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 dominant hormonal component of aging.

Brain Aging

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 to suffer from cognitive impairment if they were dependent on others for daily tasks and lacked a strong social network.

Centenarians and Aging

As for people who make it to 100 or beyond, called centenarians, men and women can both get to this age, though women are more likely to make it than men. However, there are some differences between men and women who make it to age 100, including:

  • 24 percent of male centenarians and 43 percent 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 percent of women over 100 fit the profile of "escapers," or people who did not have any major health conditions.
  • 44 percent of men and 42 percent 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 is that 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.

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

This is the list for women. Check it out and be sure to schedule those appointments.

Source:

Kochanek KD, Murphy SL, Xu J, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2016. National Center for Health Statistics. Published December 2017.