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Men vs. Women as We Age

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Men vs. Women as we age

As men and women age, our bodies and health change in different ways. These differences begin in the earliest stages of puberty and extend through an individual's entire life. For example, girls begin puberty between the ages of 10-14, while boys enter stages of puberty between 12 and 16.

As we age, men are three times more likely than women to develop kidney stones or have bladder cancer, while Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women. These are just two examples of how men and women differ as we age. From hormonal changes to death, read on for information on the differences between men and women as we age.

Hormonal Changes

Men

  • Testosterone only declines about one percent per year, helping men keep their bones stronger than a woman’s bones later in life.

  • As testosterone lowers, men may notice changes in their sexual functions, sleep patterns and emotions, as well as physical changes. 

  • Testosterone could also account for accelerating diseases of the prostate. 

Women

  • Estrogen raises the levels of good cholesterol, or HDL, which could be the reason that heart disease typically begins 10 years later in women than it does in men.

  • Women experience menopause when the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone.

  • Because of the change in hormones, women are more likely to develop yeast infections, sex can become painful because of thinning vaginal walls and there is a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. 

Disease

Men

  • Men tend to fall ill at a younger age than women.

  • Men are 10 times more likely to get inguinal hernias and five times more likely to have an aortic aneurysm. 

  • Men are twice as likely to be binge drinkers.

Women

  • One in six women develop Alzheimer’s, compared to one in 11 men.

  • More women than men are diagnosed with depression every year.

Death

On average, men die about five years younger than women. Average life expectancy for a man is 75.6 years old, whereas for a woman, it is 80.9 years old. Because of this, more than half of American women older than 65 are widows. After the age of 65, women outnumber men: for every 100 women, there are 77 men. The mortality rate is 41 percent higher for men older than 65.


Closing the Health Gap

Adopting healthy lifestyle practices will help both men and women, no matter their age, lead healthy lives. This is one area where men and women are remarkably alike. While our bodies may vary, our lifestyle choices should remain primarily the same. Tips to live a longer, healthier life include:

Eat healthy foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables regularly.

    • Avoid eating red meat too often, processed foods and sugary drinks like soda. 
Maintain an exercise routine.

    •  Exercise at least 30 minutes a day and strength train two to three times a week.
Do not drink excessively.

    • Limit yourself to only one to two alcoholic beverages a day.
Get regular checkups with your primary care provider. 

While men can’t change their chromosomes or genes, they can start to close the health gap by staying on top of their wellness and seeing a doctor regularly. For more information on nutrition and wellness, visit the UnityPoint Health LiveWell blog. For more information on healthy aging in both men and women, reach out to UnityPoint at Home.