Do Men Age Quicker than Women?
Gender and Ageing – Part 1.
Ageing is an inevitable part of life. Many of us enjoy the wisdom and peace of mind that getting older tends to bring to our lives, as well as a reduction in our tolerance for drama. But few of us enjoy the deepening lines, facial wrinkles and ‘older looking’ appearance that confronts us when we look into the mirror or worse yet, when we visualise our ageing processes in photographs taken under ‘unkind’ lighting.
Fortunately, there are numerous procedures that can deter the impact of passing years on your appearance.
From light based skin therapies to facelift procedures and eyelid lift surgery, we can ‘visually’ turn back the clock by up to a decade using some innovative procedures, from fading sun spots to reducing spider veins and damaged capillaries.
The trick to looking more youthful, however, is never just one thing.
Continuing to look your best as you age requires a combination of:
- strong bones
- good nutrition
- healthy living (not overdoing any consumption habits)
- excellent skin care
- having fairly good genes
- keeping your hormones in balance (it may be good to avoid SOY – do your research on how it impacts hormones)
Your BMI will also tend to play a factor, as will having stayed out of the sun or worn very high protection sun screen. And of course, if you’re happy and content in life, this will help your appearance because you’ll be smiling and radiant. Indeed, attitude matters in how you look as you age, and laugh lines aside, you’ll look better and healthier if you laugh a lot and are contented and happy.
But what about gender? Do males and females have different trajectories in terms of ageing and appearance?
How Men and Women Age Differently
Ever wonder which gender ages faster?
Lifestyle choices, particularly sun exposure, do have an impact on how you look when you get older. Yet whether or not you “age well” or “age poorly” is related to your genetics to a certain degree, there are also physiological traits related to your gender that will impact the processes of ageing and the impact of passing years on your appearance.
Ageing, however, DOES seem to affect the genders differently. Men and women DO seem to age in slightly different ways. So how is the trajectory of ageing impacted by your gender?
The answer is too complex for a short blog, but the brief answer is that females and males have different anatomy and different hormone levels; that impact nearly every type of physical function. In other words, there are many differences to consider when determining which gender ages more quickly.
Hormones and Ageing
As we age, most of our tissues begin to deteriorate or atrophy; and the processes of cellular renewal slows down significantly. Changes often occur to our body fat distribution, our hormones, our thought processes and, of course, our skin, connective tissues and bones.
From slower skin cell turnover to dryer skin and painful ligaments, signs of ageing may also include a gradual decline in other bodily functions over time, including a noticeable loss of libido or higher incidences of incontinence or gastric health concerns (but with the latest medical or laser treatments, it doesn’t have to be so).
Differences in Skin Texture Between Men and Women
The thickness of your skin is typically variable depending on if you’re born male or female. From a structural point of view, regarding the influence of gender on your ageing skin, you might want to consider issues such as relative skin thickness, hormonal levels affecting the skin’s moisture and lubrication levels, and factors such as the underlying bone structure of your face – e.g., how the skin drapes over your jawline, cheek area, eye sockets and brow bones.
The following are some of the aspects that may determine how ageing really affects men and women differently.
Longevity: the influence of Gender
According to a study published in Gender Medicine, and to other research about global life expectancy, women have lived longer than men in different countries and in every era. It is estimated that the current AVERAGE estimated life expectancy globally of males is approximately 69 to 70 years while it’s approximately 73 to 77.5 years for women (although it will vary according to where you live and what resources you have access to in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and health care).
The discrepancy in life expectancy between males and females doesn’t mean that all males die younger than females; it’s slightly adjusted because the early mortality rate tends to be lower in young women compared with the rate for young men. Partially related to cultural differences and partially related to differences in brains and thought processes, males, in general, seem to be more likely to be involved in fatal accidents at earlier ages.
Studies also show that at the current time, men may be more likely to suffer from fatal diseases than women and that women are more likely to get regular health check-ups. But with changes in society, and women leading lifestyles of higher stress, higher consumption of substances than in past generations and juggling too many things at once, this difference may become minimised over the next few decades.
Whatever the reason may be at the current time, however, women are still outliving men.
Males and females both experience hormonal changes, mostly hormonal declines and changes in hormonal balances, with increasing age. For women, most will enter menopause between the ages of 48-55 years. This is when their ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen, although this can vary significantly and can happen a lot earlier or even further towards the age of 60 for some women. As a result of the changes associated with menopausal changes, women may experience mood changes, waning interest in sexual intimacy, reduced sexual functioning or a lack of vaginal lubrication, as well as other “signs of the change” such as hot flushes, anxiety, depression or an overall reduced sense of well-being. Everyone is different, of course, but these are not uncommon symptoms of ageing. Signs of ageing may also seem to speed up for a woman, if she undergoes a surgical menopause with a hysterectomy or other procedure where the ovaries are removed.
Other signs of ageing include reduced moisture or ‘natural oil’ *levels in the skin (sebum reductions), and skin that starts to sag and show droopiness as well as expression lines and wrinkles, and other skin imperfections such as age spots (Sun spots) and vascularity.
Men age too – and “manopause” or “andropause” is a real thing. But it seems that men may experience a more gradual decline in their hormone decline; e.g. more gradually reduced levels of testosterone (about 1% per year after the age of 30). Lowered testosterone or imbalanced hormones can lead to decreased libido, noticeable changes in sleep patterns, mood changes and signs of ageing skin – particularly on the face – and other areas where they had excessively long exposure to the sun over many decades.
Skin thickness varies between men and women (as well as individually)
Men’s testosterone actually tends to relate to a more thickened skin, compared to women’s skin thickness, by up to 25%. Men may also have higher skin-collagen-density and skin moisture levels, as well as rougher skin texture than many women – all of which makes men’s skin slightly less susceptible to the signs of ageing. Moreover, women lose naturally produced collagen more dramatically as they enter menopause, resulting in thinning of the skin, and seemingly a slightly more rapid decline (or more noticeable change in skin appearance) once the noticeable-skin ageing processes begins.
Both men and women will lose some hair with advancing age. But there is a difference in hair loss between genders. Men tend to lose more hair than women do, sometimes all of it, by the time they reach 50. Although somewhat rare, women can also lose significant amounts of hair and experience what’s typically called ‘male pattern baldness’ – but generally, women experience thinning of hair more than extensive hair loss. Birth control pills and certain medications can also lead to hair loss, although new treatments for hair loss seem to surface frequently (including eyebrow or eyelash regrowth products or methods to restore lost hair in the places that it’s actually missed).
Women often live longer, but may also age slightly faster than many men – but this varies based on lifestyle choices, environmental factors and genetics. And of course, cosmetic procedures can turn back the clock and women can end up looking a lot younger than their male counterparts.
In conclusion, both genders undergo significant hormonal changes as they age.
Females tend to live longer, and are far less likely to experience early baldness compared to males. But females often appear to age slightly more quickly than do males, partially because their ovaries completely stop producing estrogen once they transition through the menopausal period. The male decline in hormones can start early in life but typically involves a slower decline, which is why you may hear about differences in libido between men and women in their fifties (which can lead to sexual or relationship incompatibility). But everyone is different.
Some women go through early menopause and some men become testosterone deficient at very early ages. Obesity can also be a contributing factor in hormonal changes and ageing related health concerns; but so are substance use habits, environmental exposures and genetic factors.
In addition, women’s skin may be more susceptible to early signs of ageing, because they have lower collagen density and lower skin moisture – and a smoother complexion that reveals more imperfections – compared to men. Men, who’s skin is often slightly thicker than the skin of a female, is rougher in texture and hence, sometimes less apt to reveal early ageing and sun damage quite as quickly.
But if men have done nothing to protect their skin, they’ll look older faster, as they will have more accumulated damage to contend with.
But both males and females WILL age, if they live long enough, leaving their skin dryer, more prone to revealing expression lines, eyelid puffyness, drooping skin folds, deep wrinkles and structural weakness, and underlying bone atrophy that leaves their skin with noticeable ptosis (sagging).
But a number of women will tend to look younger than their male counterparts in their 50s and 60s – why is this the case?
The plastic surgery and beauty industry currently serves more women than men. This is partially cultural and partially that women usually have more positive relationships with health care professionals then men born in earlier decades. Studies seem to indicate that, as a gender, males are less apt to have positive relationships with health care professionals than are women. In fact, many men seem to have resistance to seeing medical professionals (which they describe as bravado but which may actually be fear based).
Women will also often look younger than their male counterparts primarily as they may be:
- More apt to wear sun screen or high SPF mineral makeup
- More likely to take consistently better care of their skin, from facials to medical-grade skin care products to masques and laser treatments.
- More willing to undertake surgery to look their best.
That noted, men are quickly catching up in terms of grooming, skin care, facial surgery and wanting to look younger.
This is, in part, to ageism in terms of wanting to stay employed for longer and competing for work with younger-looking colleagues.
Men are also seemingly tired of looking older than the people they are with – even if they are actually of the same age. They are beginning to realise that aesthetic treatments are just as suitable for their their skin and their lifestyles – and as effective in turning back the clock – as they are for women. With greater social acceptance of grooming and cosmetic surgery for men and women, many men are becoming early adopters of the latest tips and tricks for looking younger in our society.
Are cosmetic treatments the same or different for men and women?
Some skin care and surgery treatments are quite similar for all genders, although exceptions apply. Others are highly customise to meet the unique bone structure, anatomy differences and skin thickness differences of males compared to females.
For example, Rhinoplasty on a thicker-skinned male may not have the same outcome options as nose shaping surgery performed on a thinner-skinned female nose. Another example is male breast reduction. Male breast surgery is becoming increasingly common as many males have puffy-looking chests after reaching a certain age, weight or BMI, and they miss having a flatter, masculine-looking chest area). Some plastic surgery procedures are also unique to the gender (labiaplasty or scrotum tuck surgery, for example). Males and females are similar in that they are keen to explore their options for body contouring using liposuction or abdominal surgery, as well as facelifts and other facial surgeries.
It’s not surprising that men are increasingly becoming more proactive in managing their ageing processes and in wanting to look youthful, fit and healthy.
Part of the reason males are increasingly engaging in liposuction, plastic surgery and skin care refinement is that women are currently more socially open to discussing their own surgery experiences, skin care products and cosmetic procedures than in any past decade. As procedures become more openly discussed and shared across a number of social media platforms, men are seeing the results and they start saying “Hey, if that works for you, then I want that too.”
Ageing well – living longer
If you want to age well, and live longer, remember that it’s the combination of what you do – and what you were born with -that matters most. To find out more about losing weight, staying fit and keeping healthy, get regular check-ups with your GP, read our blogs, and visit the New Body Specialists site for information.
Want to do something about managing your skin ageing processes or refining your body using contouring procedures?
We can help. Send us an enquiry form to learn about surgical and non-surgical options. Or if during Clinic Hours, call us on (03) 8849 1444. We look forward to helping you manage the skin ageing process or in getting your body ‘back to where’ you’d like it to be.
- Austad SN. Why women live longer than men: sex differences in longevity. Gend Med. 2006;3:79–92.
- Verbrugge LM, Wingard DL. Sex differentials in health and mortality. Women Health. 1987;12:103–145.
- Kelly A. McGarry (16 July 2012). The 5-Minute Consult Clinical Companion to Women’s Health. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 126–. ISBN 978-1-4511-7776-3.
- Victor R. Preedy (2 February 2012). Handbook of Anthropometry: Physical Measures of Human Form in Health and Disease. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 1483–. ISBN 978-1-4419-1788-1.
- Robert Baran; Howard Maibach (15 October 2010). Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology, Fourth Edition. CRC Press. pp. 370–. ISBN 978-1-84184-764-1.
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