WASHINGTON – While it’s important for everyone to stay bundled up during winter’s icy temperatures, it’s especially crucial for women. Multiple studies have found that women are more likely to feel colder than men.
In 2009, The New York Times reported that low blood iron levels, sleep patterns and diet may play a role in this phenomenon. But the explanations don’t stop there. Additional research shows there are other influencing factors, as well.
A study published in The Lancet points to women’s hormones. It finds estrogen causes the body to be more sensitive to temperature. This means a woman’s temperature regulation will change throughout her menstrual cycle.
“We know that women have temperature sensation changes when they go through menopause,” Dr. Nicholas Morrissey told weather.com in a recent article on the subject. Morrissey is a vascular surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center.
Additionally, due to their generally lower muscle mass, women have a lower metabolism than men, causing their bodies to burn energy slower and not generate as much heat, weather.com reports.
One would think that because women have higher levels of body fat, they would feel warmer, but this is not the case.
Body fat insulates internal organs, which makes it difficult for heat to reach the surface of the skin, weather.com reports. This creates the feeling of coldness, even if the internal body temperature is normal.
Women also lose heat faster than men because they are smaller and have a high surface area compared to the total volume of their bodies, Catherine O’Brien, a research physiologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, told Popular Science.
Poor temperature regulation is a “harmless situation” for most people, Dr. Morrissey told weather.com. Even still, he says it’s still important to dress warmly.