How the body perceives cold and the reasons why women are colder than men

Have you ever wondered why you can be freezing while your partner is sweating?

It's the age old argument that takes place in households this time of year: What is the perfect thermostat setting?

Turns out, science can prove why women tend to be colder than men.

First, let's look at how our bodies perceive temperature.

The first place that senses the ambient temperature is the tip of our fingers. These receptors collect information from the surrounding environment, sending that info back to the brain. Our brain then compares that information to its internal temperature.

This is how our brain allows us to understand whether we should put on another layer of clothes or escape to a warmer environment.

If those thoughts have not led to warmer actions, the second thing to happen will be shivering in your extremities. Shaking in small movements creates heat by expending energy. Shivering can also be a sign of a fever.

After your extremities shiver, your jaw muscles can shiver, causing your teeth to chatter. This is the third step in understanding that our bodies are cold.

Bottom line?

Don't get to that point! It puts stress on your body which is not good during cold weather because it could lower your immune system.

If science explains why we feel cold or warm, surely we can figure out why it seems women are cold when men feel comfortable.

ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee, forecasts the weather in frigid temperatures

According to Dr. Jacqueline Koski, a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Aurora Health, there are seven reasons women are colder than men:

  1. Women produce less heat than men. Men typically have more generating muscle and higher metabolisms to produce heat. Even with comparable bodies, women are still 3-10% cooler. If you're a fit woman with more muscle, it probably means you have less fat. "Since fat is an insulator, more muscle and less fat may still not result in feeling warmer."
  2. Women's blood vessels don't efficiently warm the skin. Dr. Koski says that blood vessels in women are farther from the skin. Blood vessels that are farther from the surface don't warm the skin as efficiently.
  3. A woman's body is designed to keep the reproductive system warm so heat tends to be kept in the woman's body core.
  4. Women have hormonal changes. A woman's resting body temperature changes, according to the doctor. "Perimenopausal (in the time shortly before menopause) and menopausal women may have hot flashes. That can result in chills afterward as the body works to regulate its temperature. Some studies have shown that postmenopausal estrogen therapy can lower core body temperature at rest and during exercise, while the addition of progesterone to the therapy will block these effects."
  5. Men have thicker, oilier and hairier skin. These differences help make men feel warmer.
  6. Building standards may not be compatible with women's physiology. Some buildings use "comfortable temperature" standards that Dr. Koski says is "based on a metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man weighing 154 pounds."
  7. Women and men dress differently. We know that here in the TV studio men's attire usually consists of an undershirt, dress shirt, tie and suit coat. Women news anchors and meteorologists usually lack long-sleeves and slacks.

To women who are fighting for a warmer environment, Dr. Kolski has some good advice:

If you’re always chilly, you may want keep that sweater nearby or visit with the thermostat keeper about re-evaluating the temperature settings. Give some thought before you make your case while wearing a sleeveless blouse, skirt and sandals. Good luck!

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

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