Jokes are cast, belittling commences, and the man is called a pansie, a wimp, a loser for over-exaggerating his cold. Well, the ultimate game of “I told you so” just got a serious ally, and who would have guessed that the man flu, according to science, may actually be a real thing.
We’ve all seen it. The girlfriend/wife/bestie gets the flu, she’s sick for a day or two (sometimes only a few hours), spends some time in the afternoon stuck in bed, and is back to work the next day operating at 100 percent.
Then the boyfriend/husband gets the same illness and death is imminent. He’s stuck in bed for four days, can’t even get up to reach the tissue box, everything makes him nausious, and after the illness passes it takes another week or two before he’s back operating at 100 percent.
What has been the butt of jokes for relationships the world over for, well, centuries I would presume, may actually be a real thing. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, man flu may be an actual condition that men suffer from and it has everything to do with estrogen – specifically, men’s lack there of.
In order to see if the Influenza A virus affected men and women differently, the team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University intentionally infected nasal cells – those that are primarily targeted by the virus – from a range of male and female donors. The researchers suspected the level of estrogen in the body had something to do with the phenomenon known as the man flu.
First, the researchers exposed the uninfected nasal cells of both men and women to estrogen and a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs, both of which activated cell receptors. Then the treated nasal cells were put into contact with the influenza virus.
Expecting to find drastic data with relation to estrogen, the researchers found something infinitely more fascinating. Any female cells treated with estrogen or SERMs from 72 to 24 hours prior to infection showed a far greater resistance to infection, with viral loads within the nasal cell cultures far lower than male cells also treated with estrogen.
The findings strongly suggested that estrogen has female-specific antiviral qualities, and that even after treatment, male nasal cells are no more resistant to infection.
Sabra Klein, lead author of the study, noted in a statement, “Other studies have shown that estrogens have antiviral properties against HIV, Ebola and hepatitis viruses. We see clinical potential in the finding that therapeutic estrogens that are used for treating infertility and menopause may also protect against the flu.”
The reasons behind the findings are still unclear, with some speculation pointing towards an estrogen/metabolic relationship in cells.
As for now, rest easy knowing that the next time a guy gets sick, and he really complains a lot, there might actually be something to it. Just try to ignore the fact that, like a stubborn husband/boyfriend, there is no cure as of yet for the fabled man flu.