A study explains that men may actually suffer more when they are struck down with flu because the high levels of testosterone in them can weaken their immune response. in this picture a man covers his face while sneezing near one of the garden showpieces at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, May 24, 2004. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

If a man complains of having a cold or flu it’s high time one must take it seriously for a study reveals that men have a weaker immune system. The study by Stanford University School of Medicine explains that men may actually suffer more when they are struck down with flu because the high levels of testosterone in them can weaken their immune response.

If the Oxford dictionary defined the term man flu as “a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms,” the Man Flu website explained it to be “a crippling and debilitating disorder indiscriminately striking down male members of the human species without warning.”

However, to find out the truth behind the much debatable topic — if man flu is real or is just an exaggeration, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in its Christmas special journal in this flu season explored the science behind the fact — “whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior.”

A doctor from Canada, Dr. Kyle Sue, in his study not only emphasized that men might experience worse cold and flu symptoms than women but also explored as to why there is such a difference. According to him "there are already many physiological differences between men and women, so it makes sense that we could differ in our responses to cold and flu viruses as well," reported the Health Day.

A clinical assistant professor in family medicine at Memorial University in St. Johns, Newfoundland Dr. Sue said, “I do think that the research does point towards men having a weaker immune response when it comes to common viral respiratory infections and the flu.” He added, “This is shown in the fact that they have worse symptoms, they last longer, they are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die from it.”

Dr. Sue said, “Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than in women.”

Dr. Sue who authored the research study for BMJ, in his research stated that men in the United States seemed to have higher death rates because of flu when compared to women of the same age. According to his research he explained that men may take more time to recover as compared to women.

However, talking about the benefits of being ill and conserving energy, Dr. Sue wrote in his study, “Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviors that once protected against predators.”

Talking to the Guardian, Dr. Sue said to the publication, “There need to be more studies, higher quality studies that control for other factors between men and women before we can definitely say that this difference in immunity exists.”

He added, “Is it that women are more resilient, that they are able to juggle more when they are ill, or is it that they don’t have as severe symptoms? That we are not too sure about. But I think everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt when they are ill.”

In an interview to the CBC, Dr. Sue said, “The whole point of doing this article is to prove that men are not wimps. Actually, we are suffering from something we have no control over ... [We] should be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being criticized for not functioning well during the flu or the common cold.”