Top Health Stories of 2011: Men vs. Women

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on November 22, 2011

Men and women -- worlds apart, right? Not so fast. If the stories readers devoured on WebMD this year are any indication, men and women have a lot more in common than the Mars-and-Venus cliché would have us believe. When it comes to their health, anyway.

Men and women both want to know what’s going on "down there,” and may not be comfortable talking to their doctors about it. Among male readers, one of the most popular articles in 2011 was 5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Penis. Other top hits among men: prostate health and low testosterone. Women were equally interested in their female anatomy and related health issues such as period problems and yeast infections.

"It’s clear that Internet users often turn to the web for answers to questions they may be too embarrassed to ask their doctor. We’ve noticed it in the past, but this trend was never clearer than in 2011, when many of these topics rose to the top among the WebMD audience," says Michael W. Smith, MD, medical director at WebMD. Although online content can help people get started, Smith notes that WebMD always encourages readers to reach out to their doctors. "Even though it may be tough to talk about, that’s what your doctor is there for. Believe me, your doctor isn’t going to judge you."

But when it comes to the #1 story for each gender, not all is created equal. Men raced to articles about how to turn up the heat in the bedroom (6 Sex Mistakes Men Make led the list for men.) Women, in comparison, may have been just too tired to think about sex. Lack of energy and fatigue were their top concerns in 2011 -- just as it was the year before. In particular, women wanted to know if medical problems such as thyroid trouble was robbing them of energy.

Another key difference: the way men vs. women think about food and diet. Men wanted to find superfoods to build a better body. Women wanted to know how to lose weight -- for good, at last.

It’s no huge surprise that men are looking for better sex, while women are looking for the energy to get through their day, Smith says. Nearly 60% of women work outside the home. On top of that, women with families do about 28 hours of chores a week at home, while men with families do about 10 hours, according to an annual survey by the National Science Foundation.

But when Smith looks closely at what men and women seek overall on WebMD, he sees a common theme: Readers are striving for strong, healthy bodies and happy, fulfilled lives. Good sex and more energy are great places to start, but the benefits of good health are more far-reaching than that – they're practically endless.

Here are our readers’ top concerns for 2011, broken down by gender:

Men Women

1. Better Sex Life Female Anatomy

2. Male Anatomy Thyroid Troubles

3. Prostate Health Period Problems

4. Low Testosterone Weight Loss and Diet

5. Superfoods for Health Fatigue

Show Sources


Women and the Economy 2010, a Report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, August, 2010.

National Science Foundation, Chore Wars: Men, Women, and Housework.

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