It doesn’t seem fair that men are often considered more distinguished as they grow older while women are just ... old. But like it or not, there are some real differences in the ways men and women age.
Fertility and Hormones
As you’d probably expect, women go through more hormonal changes as they age than men do. Hormones affect every aspect of a woman’s fertility, starting in her teen years when she gets her first period.
As a woman ages, natural decreases in hormone levels bring her period to an end and usher in the common side effects of menopause including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and lower libido. Menopause typically occurs around age 50, which is the end of a woman’s fertility as she is no longer able to get pregnant or carry a child.
Men also experience changes as testosterone levels decline at a rate of about 1 percent per year, beginning around age 30. This is sometimes known as andropause.
Low testosterone levels can eventually lead to erectile dysfunction, lower libido and changes in sleep. But unlike women who will eventually cease being fertile, men continue to create sperm and are able to reproduce despite old age.
Men have the advantage when it comes to skin and aging. The male hormone testosterone makes men’s skin about 25 percent thicker than women’s skin. Men also have more moisture on their skin because they typically sweat more.
All this adds up to fewer signs of aging on men’s skin than women’s skin. Societal norms for women to look younger increase anxiety over skin changes and help fund the beauty industry as women reach for anti-aging creams and serums to slow the appearance of aging on their skin.
In general, men show earlier and more obvious signs of aging when it comes to hair loss. Genetic hair loss that runs in a family typically takes place by about age 40. Even without a hereditary factor, most men show some signs of balding by about age 50.
Women also lose some hair with age and in rare cases, women experience male-pattern baldness.Read more in Gender Differences in Health