A man named Sue — or to be more accurate — an academic named Kyle Sue, assistant professor of family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, is taking on the battle of defending every man’s weak immune system.

This phenomena is also known as men’s wimpy abilities to just…deal.

I don’t know about your spouses, but just about every time my husband sneezes and gets a temp of 99 degrees, he thinks he’s dying.


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I’ll get the same cold, rest for half a day (if I’m lucky) and then I’m on my merry way, back to kicking butts and taking names.

I still nurture my husband.

He gets cozy blankets and orange juice and chicken noodle soup, but do I believe it’s as bad as he’s making it out to be? Not so much.

If Sue is right about this, it turns out I may owe my hubby an apology. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s break down what “man flu” is

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary “man flu” is a “humorous, informal” noun. It means a “cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.”

So no, it’s not a real term, nor is it scientifically or medically associated to influenza. Your fellas don’t need to rush out and get a “man flu” shot each year. Because, again, it’s not real.

Sue said he was “tired of being accused of over-reacting” when he gets sick. So he wrote a satirical article in the Christmas edition of the BMJ, (formerly the British Medical Journal.) His goal: seek out scientific reasons why men might actually experience illness more intensely.

Sue told All the Moms, “It’s all serious research and reviews and real evidence” cited in the studies.

But while the science is very real, Sue’s commentary in the article is often not. And he plays off the typical male stereotype.

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His proof

1. Female hormones may boost immunity, while testosterone could lower the immune system’s ability to fight off certain illnesses.

Basically, men and women are built differently, therefore their biological responses to the flu will be different.

According to BMJ, “Several studies show that female mice have higher immune responses than males. This led to the hypothesis that sex dependent hormones have an important role in outcomes of influenza.

The report goes on to say, “Studies of influenza vaccination suggest that women are more responsive to vaccination than men. This is supported by the finding that women report more local and systemic reactions to influenza vaccine than men in questionnaires. One study noted that men with higher testosterone levels had more down regulation of antibody response to vaccination, suggesting an immunosuppressive role for testosterone.”

You can read the studies cited by BMJ here, here, here and here.