What makes women "cold-skinned?"


In my last blog, I addressed the question "Are women really 'cold-blooded?'" After some research, I concluded that we do not actually have colder than men blood. Our skin is simply more sensitive to changes in temperature, making us something that I have decided to call "cold-skinned." This conclusion really intrigued me so, in this blog, I'm going to explain what causes us ladies to be "cold-skinned."

To sum it up, it's because we're fatter and more hormonal... How lovely.

Coming in at an average of 20-25% body fat, women are made up of about 10% more fat than men. This seems counter-intuitive at first--I would expect more insulation to correspond to higher body temperatures. But, as University of Portsmouth professor Michael Tipton points out, "insulation works both ways... It also means you're stopping [internal] heat from reaching the skin." University of Wollongong professor Nigel Taylor goes further to say that "The main difference is the way we lay down subcutaneous fat [the layer of fat below the skin]... An average woman will have a more even distribution of fat just below the skin surface, whereas this is thinner for guys."

Why do guys get to be naturally thin? A woman today might say it's pretty unfair, but, historically, it makes sense. This video gives an easy to follow, comprehensive explanation of why women are naturally fatter than men. Apparently, "it all stems back to the hunter/gatherer days of our ancestors." Men were built to be lean and fast so that they could hunt food and provide for their families. Conversely, women were equipped with extra fat storage so that they could sustain themselves and their children during famine. Both of these adaptations caused fatter women and thinner men to come out on top of the natural selection process and make made us the way we are today.

Now for the hormonal aspect. When it comes to hormones, estrogen is to blame. Why is estrogen more prevalent in women than in men? The most obvious answer is because estrogen is the hormone that aids in the development of female characteristics. A lesser-known role of estrogen is that it helps to regulate our peripheral blood vessels-- the more estrogen that is present, the more temperature-sensitive we are.

Let's come back again, full circle. Girls, you're cold right now because 1) your first female ancestors were in charge of domestics and 2) you house a lot of estrogen. Boys, you lucked out... at least offer us your jacket.



Wow, this is really interesting. I didn't realize that it was actually proven that women get colder easier than men. It definitely makes sense that the fat insulation works both ways. Here is an article with an interesting passage about how fat is located on a woman depending on which region of the world she's from.

Haha, this is a very entertaining blog. It is quite ironic that women do possess more body fat than men, not to mention unfair. My dad is always confused because my mom, sister, and I always have very cold hands and feet, regardless of how many layers of clothing we have on or how high the heat is up. As if having more fat wasn't bad enough, other "disadvantages" of being a female also affect our temperatures. According to Mark Newton, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, "A woman's core temperature also fluctuates throughout her menstrual cycle. It goes from 36.9 degrees to a peak of 37.4 degrees, so she will feel the cold more acutely depending on which point she is at in her cycle." This is due to the lack of enough muscle in women. Because we do not have enough muscle as men, we have to find a different, efficient method to maintain core body temperature.

This blog actually made me laugh because just yesterday my guy friend and I were talking about how my hands and feet are always freezing. Every time I touch him he shudders because my hands are so cold! And just the opposite, his skin is always so warm. Women would have colder skin and more body fat, awesome. Check out this article which also gives an explanation towards why men are "hotter."

Anushi, I'm glad you found my blog entertaining! You bring up a great point about our menstrual cycles affecting our temperatures. Although your idea deals with core temperature rather than skin temperature, a woman's menstrual cycle does affect her skin temperature as well. In one of the articles I cited above (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2277153/So-THATs-womens-feet-hands-cold---Its-hormones.html), I learned that estrogen levels fluctuate when a woman is menstruating. Since estrogen helps to regulate our peripheral blood cells, this causes a lot of variation in her skin temperature. I definitely didn't know that. Click on the link to find out some other things you may have never known about your period. http://women.webmd.com/features/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-your-period

Hi Dana! I found your article really interesting, especially the study about how men and women have different biological clocks (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12182498?dopt=Abstract). On average, men go to bed later and wake up later than women. In addition, body heat peaks at night about 3-4 hours before waking for both sexes. For men, this is about an hour later than women. This causes their bodies to start and stop warming up later than women. In turn, women tend to feel colder in the mornings while men are still warm.

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