View Full Version : Who can withstand cold temperatures more, males or females?

Sarah Woodruff
08-12-2005, 09:59 PM
We're having a cold snap in Sydney - the past few mornings have been freezing cold. I was complaining to my dad about some problems with a female cow-orker who was perfectly nice until recently, and he said, "Oh, it's the cold. Women can't stand the cold." :confused: I was all ready to yell at him for being such an unreconstructed chauvinist, but maybe there is something in this. My mother absolutely hates cold weather, but then she comes from a very hot, humid climate (India). Is there any difference because of bodyfat ratios, bodysize, metabolic rates, etc. in the ability to cope with cold temperatures between the sexes? Or is it just that men think it's macho to not wear an overcoat?

Southern Gentleman
08-12-2005, 10:11 PM
I have always understood that females have an extra layer of fat that allows them to withstand cold just a bit more.

Is it the truth? I have no idea.

Little Nemo
08-12-2005, 10:13 PM
Anecdotal evidence but it does seem that women generally are more sensitive to cold weather than men. I've seen this observation made by both men and women. Assuming it's true, I'd guess it's probably a matter of men usually having a greater body mass then women so they cool off slower.

08-12-2005, 10:16 PM
I hate the cold, but more because it's painful--it hurts my hands and lungs. I don't know if it has to do with being female, but my mom always fought with my dad over the thermostat.

08-12-2005, 11:50 PM
I know the singular of data is not anecdote, but from my experience working in offices, women seem to feel cold much more than men. Or at least than me. I've had October days where I'm practically wet with sweat and the woman in the cubicle next to me has her portable heater plugged in. And it's more than just one coworker...it's happened in every office I've worked in for the last 10 years.

08-13-2005, 12:03 AM
Muscle burns off a lot of heat. Despite the fact that women have more bodyfat, they're often colder than men because they have less muscle. My WAG is that even though women might like the cold less, they'd probably survive longer in a colder climate. The Inuit aren't exactly thin people.

08-13-2005, 02:07 AM
Based on many conversations over the years, it appears the main difference between men and women on this issue (speaking statistically, there are many exceptions both ways) is that women's bodies tend to cut off blood flow to the extremities and/or skin more readily than do men. My theory (unconfirmed) is that women's bodies do this because, for most of human evolution, the demands of child bearing and nursing made it imperative (or at least very adaptive) for women to conserve energy. Whereas the boys needed (or at least is was more adaptive to have) lots of energy-on-demand while out chasing mastadons and such. BTW, I think this is also why women generally have more trouble losing weight, i.e., that their bodies are more aggressively committed to saving fat stores during periods of food shortage by reducing metabolism when calorie intake is reduced.

08-13-2005, 02:44 AM
What jayjay said.

08-13-2005, 03:41 AM
more anecdotal, I was in the office thursday talking to 3 women who work there...I was in shorts and a tank top and kinda warm, 2 of them in light coats and one in a friggin fuzzy lined suede coat.
I tend to think its a few factors mentioned already. one is the standard mass to surface ratio, since women are smaller they get cold quicker. and I am about twice the size of any of the women I was talking to.

08-13-2005, 04:14 AM
I too have noticed that more women than men complain about the cold. However, IIRC more men than women perished in the Donner party. Make of that what you will.

08-13-2005, 12:16 PM
Muscle burns off a lot of heat. Despite the fact that women have more bodyfat, they're often colder than men because they have less muscle. My WAG is that even though women might like the cold less, they'd probably survive longer in a colder climate. The Inuit aren't exactly thin people.

I think you mean muscle produces more heat. Since muscle does work it produces
heat. Men, by nature, have more muscle so produce more heat.

But I agree that women probably could withstand a colder climate survial thing better. Having more fat/insulation to keep their heat in.

This is all in general of course!

08-13-2005, 12:33 PM
Women have slightly thicker body fat, yes, but everyone is forgetting what this causes. This extra fat makes them sweat more in the same conditions, which means they feel colder as it evaporates.

However, in answering the OP, they might feel colder under the same conditions, but females in general have a higher threshold of pain. Since cold is a minor pain, through deduction I would conclude that they can withstand colder tempratures better.

08-13-2005, 08:06 PM
but females in general have a higher threshold of pain.

Cite please?

08-13-2005, 08:30 PM
Cite please?

We have been through this before several times in GQ. It goes round and round. All I can say definitively is that "threshold" is not the correct word. That means the ability to feel the stimulus at all. The correct phrase is "pain tolerance".

08-13-2005, 08:30 PM
Another factor: in most office settings at least, women wear less clothing. Compare legs covered only in pantyhose vs. trousers. Bare arms vs long sleeve shirt plus jacket. Relatively open necklines vs. closed collar w/tie.

05-05-2011, 02:06 PM
females in general have a higher threshold of pain.

This has not been scientifically proven. I can find you many articles about who has the higher pain tolerance, all of them different. Alot of the studies appear to be survey based and from reading comments I can see that the female posters state blindly that they have the higher pain tolerance. Very few males appear to challenge females and those who do are both outright and subconsciously labeled homosexual.

Articles stating males feel less pain:

Notice that in many of the articles pain threshold is also talked about, its not just about feeling pain.

Articles stating females feel less pain:
Sorry... I lied about saying "I can find you many articles about who has the higher pain tolerance, all of them different". I thought it would be easy after all the comments I found on this subject but after a search on google for "women feel less pain" all I found where pages saying men felt less pain, had higher endurance, etc.

For moderators:
I understand that this post was made about 6 years ago, but please understand that this page is high in the google search results for "men withstand cold".

05-05-2011, 02:18 PM
I heard that zombies don't feel pain at all. (I think you're supposed to start a new thread and link to this one which might get closed shortly per SOP.)

Anyhow, Mythbusters did a segment on this if you'd like another data point. Not sure what to make about the homosexual labeling reference.


Der Trihs
05-05-2011, 02:27 PM
It's my understanding that women are much more cold resistant, so much so that when you look at historical survival situations and you filter out the pregnant women, their survival rate in extreme cold greatly favors them. They have more body fat for energy reserves, more subcutaneous fat for insulation, less energy hungry muscle tissue, and less blood flow beneath the skin. But by the same token, most of those differences involve the female body losing less heat than the male - and you primarily feel cold with your skin. So, women feel colder in the same temperature than men because their skin is colder, but they are more resistant than men to suffering actual harm or death from the cold.

For many of the same reasons (plus we sweat more) men are significantly more resistant to heat than women.

Also; women generally put no particular value in toughing things out. If they are uncomfortable, they'll say so and try to change the thermometer setting, not suffer in silence.