Can Male Hormones Protect Against Allergies?

If you think women get the short end of the stick when it comes to experiencing allergy symptoms, you may be right. The latest research confirms that women have a higher incidence of allergies than their male counterparts and it may boil down to hormonal differences.

Hormones and Allergies

A group of researchers from Germany, Italy, and Sweden recently explored the relationship between sex and allergies and found that the presence of male hormones seems to lower men's risk of suffering from allergic reactions. In addition to experiencing lower rates of allergies, men also seem to be less likely to experience other inflammatory health problems including asthma, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Studying Sex and Allergies

In a study that was published online on the FASEB Journal's website in June 2011, researchers exposed male and female immune cells to a variety of inflammatory stimuli and found that the cells belonging to women had close to twice the reaction than in men. This was because the presence of testosterone seemed to modulate the inflammatory response in men and head off related problems.

To test out this theory, the researchers tried treating female cells with testosterone in a test tube and discovered that with the added presence of this male hormone, the inflammation decreased.

What This Means

If you're a man, these findings offer good news, since they mean that your allergies are likely to be less severe than your female counterparts. But for women, the results may seem discouraging. However, the study does substantiate the importance of including more women in future research studies to look more closely at their needs. This means that up and coming treatment methods may finally be tailored specifically for gender. At the present time, many treatments for inflammatory conditions are still being tested only on men, which mean women may not find them completely effective.

Since men and women have such different responses to allergy triggers, it's also important for females with allergies to find a doctor who takes their symptoms seriously and is willing to persistently find the most effective treatment strategies for her.

Still, men and women with allergies should identify and avoid their triggers and prevent and treat troublesome symptoms by taking their doctor-prescribed allergy medications.



Pergola, Carlo et al. "Testosterone Suppresses Phospholipase D, Causing Sex Differences in Leukotriene Biosynthesis in Human Monocytes."  The FASEB Journal (published online ahead of print), 21 June 2011.Web. 21 Aug. 2011.

"Pharmacists Of The University Jena Analyze Why Men Suffer More Rarely From Inflammatory Diseases Than Women." Medical News Today, 27 July 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2011.