Guys are renowned for being the smellier, sweatier sex. But is there any truth behind this notion? We tackled the question of why men sweat more than women.
According to a study measuring the sweat rate and sweat gland activity of 37 men and women, the answer is yes.
In the study, both participants of similar weight cycled at varying intensities for an hour while researchers measured perspiration on their forehead, chest, back, forearm and thighs. The groups included "trained" and "untrained" men and women to account for the sweating impact of physical endurance.
Although women had just as many sweat glands activated during the workout, the results revealed that men are more efficient sweaters than women — sweating more heavily and at a lower temperature.
While men may be the sweatier and smellier species, there's more to the story. And it's important to understand what these differences mean and how to deal with your sweating superpower or lack-there-of.
Why Men Sweat More than Women
Weight, level of physical fitness, temperature and genetics influence how much sweat men and women produce. While women have just as many active sweat glands, men produce more sweat per gland than women do — this is why men sweat more than women. Men also tend to be heavier and have more muscle mass. Increased mass produces more heat when working out, causing men to sweat more.
Your sweat rate depends on how many sweat glands your body activates and the volume of sweat produced by each. But there are many other factors at play. Because the cycling study monitored participants while they exercised, it also shed light on how physical endurance influences sweat rates for both men and women.
First, it’s important to know what the ability to sweat says about your body. If you sweat bullets while exercising, your body is better equipped to disperse heat and keep you from feeling overwhelmingly hot. Your endurance level also dictates how well you take the heat. As you become fit, you begin sweating at a lower temperature to anticipate the intense workout you’re about to endure and better regulate internal temperature.
So it’s no surprise that the trained participants sweated considerably more than the untrained subjects of both sexes, proving that regular exercise can make you sweat more over time.
But beyond sheer volume of sweating, more surprising was the “sex differences” the researchers observed.
The untrained women sweated the least amount and required the highest body temperature to maximize their sweat output. As the participants worked harder, trained men experienced the biggest spike in sweating. In short, physical fitness appeared to play a dominating role in how heavily men sweated but was less influential for women.
Theories Behind The Sweating Discrepancy
There are some explanations for why men sweat more than women. The first is evolution.
According to an author of the study, Yoshimitsu Inoue, Ph.D., a professor of physiology at Osaka International University, sweating less while exercising in hot conditions may seem like a disadvantage at first glance. “On the other hand, it may be that women, during evolution, had the good sense to get out of the hot sun, and their bodies adapted accordingly,” he said.
Conversely, Dr. Inoue hypothesized that men may have adapted a higher sweat response to complete daily labor more efficiently.
Hormones may also affect perspiration levels. In one experiment where male athletes were injected with estrogen, they sweated less during exercise. Other studies show that boys and girls sweat around the same amount during childhood, suggesting that hormonal changes during puberty are partially to blame. When testosterone begins to circulate throughout the body, boys begin to sweat earlier and more heavily.
What to Do About Your Sweating Situation
Beyond sweating more, men also begin sweating at a lower temperature than women. So when exposed to extreme heat, they’re less likely to reach the critical temperature — 104 degrees — and experience overheating. Women also tend to retain less body fluid than men and dehydrate more easily.
Still, sex alone doesn't define how much you sweat. Both men and women who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat excessively and spontaneously — regardless of sex, physical endurance, etc. Other factors such as weight and DNA influence how much you perspire and from where. Get the full scoop on sweat.
The bottom line is that men and women sweat differently, and neither is safe from the debilitating effects of excessive sweating. Acclimating yourself to the heat, staying hydrated and exercising regularly can help you sweat more efficiently and better cope with heat. By arming yourself with a sweat proof Thompson Tee during exercise or everyday activity, you can also keep cool while saving your clothes from wet marks & yellow stains.