The reason couples fight over heat? Women really are colder than men

(Think Stock Photos)
(Think Stock Photos)

It's time to call a truce in the temperature wars. He's too hot, she's too cold: relationship experts blame this classic relationship battlegroundon control issues, but science has a simpler explanation. Women are, in fact, colder than men.

A team of researchers, led by physician Han Kim, found that on average woman's hands are almost three degrees cold than a man's. The reason is that the female body produces a slightly higher core temperature around the vital organs. So women's hands and feet get the shaft. And when your hands feel cold, so does the rest of you. This research isn't new, but as icy weather endures, reminders of our biological differences are key to keeping relationship meltdowns in check. In fact, the thermostat is the source of one of the most common arguments between couples.

It's just another way men and women are from two different planets. Why on Earth would we be hard-wired so differently from the opposite sex? Survival, says Professor Mark Newton, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth. He theorized in the London Times that women have a higher core temperature to protect them from freezing temperatures. Since women's muscle mass and fat is lower then men's our body provides an extra shot of heat to our vital parts.

If body temperature weren't enough, there's evidence that women have a lower tolerance to the feeling of cold. If a woman likes it less cold in the house, it's probably partly due to this low tolerance to the pain of cold," Kathryn Sandberg, director of the Georgetown University Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease told the Washington Post. "Women are more sensitive to that discomfort." She points to a study in which men and women had their hands submerged in ice. Women pulled their hands out significantly faster than men.

Menstrual cycles also may vary female body temperatures by as much as one degree depending on the time of the month. Birth control pills also may raise core body temperature making women's limbs more easily chilled.

Cold sensitivity also may be a heal on th warning for women. "Probably the two most common for women are anemia or a low blood count or an underactive or low-fuctioning thyroid. Both of those can make you feel colder," says CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

If your temperature wars flare up at night, it may be a result of low cortisol, the "fight" hormone you produce the most of when you're awake. In that case, you don't need a doctor, you need a two-person comforter with adjustable temperatures on either side of the blanket. Yes, it exists.

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