Women, Life Expectancy and the Female BodyResearchers in the Netherlands think they may have an answer: menstruation. It seems that when women menstruate, they release a hormone called "estradiol." This hormone basically gives the heart a workout. During the second half of a menstrual cycle (and during pregnancy), the female cardiac output increases around 20%. This increase is equivalent to what happens when someone exercises. So basically the female heart gets a sustained workout for a few days every month. The result? Less cardiac problems than men (at least that is what these researchers are suggesting).
Is That the Whole Story?No. The female body also has some genetic differences that may protect against aging, but the estradiol-heart health link may form an important part of the life-expectancy equation.
Source: Eskes T, Haanen C. Why do women live longer than men? Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2007 Aug; 133(2)126-133.
Eskes T, Haanen C. Why do women live longer than men? Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2007 Aug; 133(2)126-133.