Medicine has a long, sorry history of focusing on men. Happily, that seems to be changing, with a number of new studies coming out that examine how the medical experiences of men and women differ (and not just for the sexual differences). This article surveys some of the recent research on how the immune system of women differs from men. It appears that women tend to have immune systems that respond more strongly and quickly to infections, which is thought to perhaps be tied to childbearing (in order to protect a nascent life inside of you, your body has to be more aggressive in stamping out infection). Unfortunately, this may also be the reason that women suffer disproportionately from auto-immune diseases, which result from an over-enthusiastic immune response. It also appears to mean that women react to vaccinations differently than men, perhaps only needing half the dose (or so) that men need. As more studies are done on these differences, it’ll be interesting to see what comes up.
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