Men and women differ by gender in a lot of physiological differences, from body fat to height, hormones and lifespan. One big difference between the sexes that might surprise you is how the immune system functions in women versus men. So how did men up end up with a weaker immune system than women?

Women Have Stronger Mast Cells

Mast cells are immune system cells that recognize specific proteins on pathogens like viruses and bacteria and cause inflammation when activated. Unfortunately, mast cells can also react to foods, medications, stress, heat, and even strong smells. Mast cells are responsible for allergic reactions and food sensitives. Prolonged activation of mast cells can result in conditions like leaky gut, chronic rashes, headaches, and gut pain.

Women have over 4,000 genes that more active in their mast cells than men. [1] Women are more likely to have oversensitive and hyperactive mast cells, leading to higher rates of allergies and autoimmune disorders. Because stress can hyperactivate mast cells, it’s important for women to lower their stress levels. Spore’s Chill Out Blend contains reishi mushroom and other botanical ingredients that support relaxation.

X Marks The Spot

Women have two copies of the X chromosome and men only have one. The X chromosome contains strains of ribonucleic acid called microRNAs, and it’s estimated that ten percent of all microRNAs are on that gene. Many microRNAs have been found to regulate genes for the immune system. Women likely have a more robust immune system than men because more of the genes for the immune system are turned on. [2]

Women Live Longer

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women live six to eight years longer than men in most countries. Because women have stronger immune systems, they are in a better position to fight off pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and mold. Interestingly, women are also two to five times less likely to have cancer than men, and this is because our immune system is our first defense against small cancer cells growing into tumors.

Women Have More Autoimmune Diseases

Having a stronger immune system than men isn’t always a plus for women. Women have a higher rate of autoimmune disorders like lupus or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which happen when the immune system attacks the body instead of pathogens. Women also are more likely to have health conditions where the immune system plays a role, including allergies and migraines.

Women Have More Severe Reactions to Vaccines

Because women have a more robust immune system, they respond more strongly to vaccinations. This includes things like measles, hepatitis B, the flu, and even the new COVID-19 vaccines. With the new COVID vaccines, women are more likely to report more severe and longer lasting side effects like fever, headache, fatigue, and pain than men. Women even account for 80 percent of all allergic reactions to all vaccines. [3]


Whether you’re a man or a woman, it is still important to support a healthy immune system. Mushrooms can both boost the immune system when it’s suppressed or suppress an overactive immune system in the case of autoimmune diseases. One way to easily balance your immune system is with Spore’s Protect & Defend Blend, which contains turkey tail, reishi, maitake, and chaga mushrooms, and other all-natural ingredients.


1. Mackey, E., Ayyadurai, S., Pohl, C.S. et al. Sexual dimorphism in the mast cell transcriptome and the pathophysiological responses to immunological and psychological stress. Biol Sex Differ 2016;7:60.
2. Pinheiro, I., Dejager, L. and Libert, C. (2011), X‐chromosome‐located microRNAs in immunity: Might they explain male/female differences? Bioessays, 33: 791-802.
3. Su JR, Moro PL, Ng CS, Lewis PW, Said MA, Cano MV. Anaphylaxis after vaccination reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, 1990-2016. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019;143(4):1465-1473.