Thermal Comfort  

Do men and women feel temperature differently?

Humans are ‘warm-blooded mammals’ meaning that our bodies generate a thermo-regulation process that balances heat generation and muscle activity to maintain a core body temperature. Although temperature changes affect individuals differently (depending on various environments and physical differences), research illustrates that on average, men and women feel and respond to temperature in different ways. This difference can impact workplace well-being and how thermally comfortable both sexes feel in various environments.

On average, women feel the cold more readily than men. This is based on research which reported that the average temperature of women’s hands outside was approximately 3°C lower than men's hands. Consequently, women are more comfortable in temperatures approximately 2.5°C warmer than men and feel most comfortable in temperatures between 24- 25°C.

The differences in how both sexes feel temperature can be due to the variation in metabolic rate and bodily heat production. On average, men have less fat within their body mass than women. Instead, their greater muscle mass and limb proportions result in a higher skin blood flow (compared to women) due to a higher metabolic rate.

When our bodies are stationary, heat is generated by the body's brown fat store. This  fat type within the human body generates energy and heat for the individual via an involuntary process called thermogenesis. This biological process regulates more in men, and due to their higher proportion of body mass, men are able to produce heat more readily, making them feel the cold less than women do. This also means that in warmer months (and climates), men feel the heat more than women as their body's metabolism is faster. Consequently, by having a cooler skin temperature, women are more sensitive to the cold due to skin sensors. 

Although it is useful to be mindful of these findings there are individual differences to take into account, for example, when women are pregnant, their bodily core will usually increase from 0.5°C to 1.0°C. Women also feel colder around ovulation when their estrogen levels are highest. What’s more, core temperatures in the body can alter between the night time and day via the circadian rhythm. Individuals are 0.5°C to 1.0°C warmer in the late afternoon than in the early hours of the morning.