The male body is covered in hair and mystery. Many of us are just fine with letting that mystery be.
However, for those who want to delve deeper, here are some bizarre facts that will make you marvel at the male body even more. These are our favorite four stranger-than-fiction facts.
1. Men have glands that can lactate.
Anyone who’s held a baby knows that they don’t care if you’re lactating or not. They’re going in and that’s final. While most men will jokingly say that they don’t have any milk, that’s not the whole story.
It turns out that men do have the ability to lactate, though they rarely do. According to the Scientific American, there are a number of stories throughout history of men being forced to breastfeed and miraculously producing milk.
Scientists now say it’s no miracle, it’s just an overactive pituitary gland. Certain medications and tumors on the gland itself can cause a male body to produce prolactin, which is the hormone that helps the body produce milk.
2. Men can get premenstrual syndrome (PMS) too.
Just over a quarter of men are susceptible to PMS-like symptoms due to monthly hormonal changes. These symptoms can manifest themselves through cramps, mood swings, and hot flashes, just like they do in women.
Scientists believe that these changes are due to fluctuations in testosterone. You might expect a man to be more touchy-feely and caring when his testosterone levels go down, but instead, he’ll just become more irritable, unhappy, and uncomfortable. Several studies have confirmed that men suffer very similar symptoms to women with PMS due to hormonal changes.
3. Men perceive fewer colors than women.
There’s a reason why men and women fight in the paint aisle of home improvement stores. Men are happy with whatever shade of green or blue while women are trying to decide on the perfect one of 10 different shades. This is likely because men simply can’t perceive as many color shades as women.
Retinal cone cells determine how many colors a person can discern. This genetic information lives on the X chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have only one (the other is the Y chromosome).
This doesn’t mean that women see twice as many colors as men; it’s much more complicated than that. However, it does give women a greater chance at seeing more shades of colors. Another result of this genetic situation is that there are many more colorblind men (7 percent) than women (0.4 percent).
4. All babies develop as females for the first six weeks.
The sex of a child is determined when conception occurs. However, both male and female embryos develop as female by default.
At about the seventh week, the SRY gene on the Y chromosome begins to produce testosterone and other androgens, which is what finally spurs the development of male characteristics. From that point on, baby boys and girls will diverge in development. It’s nice to know that we all started in the same place, though.