Do Women or Men Age Faster and Better?

A Look at Hormones, Bodily Changes, and Life Expectancy

People often wonder if women age faster than men. The answer is that, statistically, women live slightly longer than men. Genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and environment affect how people of either sex age. However, other factors like hormones and how people access healthcare can influence why men and women age differently.

In addition, the way that your body loses collagen (a protein found in skin and connective tissues) can also lead to men appearing to age "better" than women. Reduced collagen causes your skin to lose elasticity and appear older. While men lose collagen earlier and more consistently in life, women tend to lose it after menopause and at a dramatic rate. This rapid collagen loss can cause women to appear older more quickly.

With life expectancy and appearance, aging can be an entirely different experience for men and women. This article explains how aging differs between the sexes.

Senior couple dancing in living room
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Life Expectancy

It's a simple fact that, almost everywhere in the world, the average age of death in men versus women is different. Specifically, 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. Whatever the reason, 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 all genders combined. For women, it's 81.1 years and for men, it's 76.1 years.

Sex

Sexual function and aging are very different for men and women. A woman's body ages faster than a man's. That's because women's bodies respond to aging dramatically with menopause while a men's respond more gradually. Over time, each person must deal with the changes in their sexual function brought about by aging, such as vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction.

Hormones

Reproductive hormones affect aging for men and women differently. For women, changes in estrogen levels with aging are a major concern. This is especially true during menopause and after. For men, testosterone level changes 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. Women, however, are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment if they are dependent on others for daily tasks and lack 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. These statistics are based on a classic 2003 study:

  • 24% of male centenarians and 43% 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% of men and 15% of women over 100 fit the profile of "escapers" or people who did not have any major health conditions.
  • 44% of men and 42% of women over 100 are "delayers" or people who did not have a major diagnosis until after the age of 80.

Men who make it to 100 are much more likely to be "lucky" at escaping age-related health issues than women, who seem to be able to endure long-term illnesses better.

Health Screenings

Since men statistically seek out preventative healthcare less than women, this may impact why the average age of death is lower for men than women. The health screenings and tests recommended to catch disease and illness early differ by your reproductive organs. Use the tool at Healthfinder.gov to see which are recommended for you.

People who have female reproductive organs need screening for cancers that affect them, and the same is true for people with male reproductive organs. Check it out and be sure to schedule your appointments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do men age better than women?

    Men tend to hold on to a more youthful appearance longer than women. This is because they lose collagen—a protein in skin that keeps it hydrated and elastic—more gradually.

  • How much longer do women live than men?

    In the U.S., women live around five years longer than men. According to the National Vital Statistics System, women's life expectancy is 80.5 years, while men's is 75.1 years.

  • Why do women live longer than men?

    Researchers believe behavior and hormones play a role in lifespan differences. For example, men are statistically more likely than women to smoke and engage in other risky behavior. In addition, higher estrogen levels may help women combat heart disease and higher cholesterol levels.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. McBride JA, Carson CC 3rd, Coward RM. Testosterone deficiency in the aging maleTher Adv Urol. 2016;8(1):47–60. doi:10.1177/1756287215612961

  3. Espeland MA, Carmichael O, Yasar S, et al. Sex-related differences in the prevalence of cognitive impairment among overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetesAlzheimers Dement. 2018;14(9):1184–1192. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2018.05.015

  4. Evert J, Lawler E, Bogan H, Perls T. Morbidity profiles of centenarians: survivors, delayers, and escapers. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003;58(3):232-7. doi:10.1093/gerona/58.3.M232

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Provisional life expectancy estimates for January through June 2020.

  6. Population Reference Bureau. Around the globe, women outlive men.

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