Do Women Have More Acute Physical Senses than Men?

Do Women Have More Acute Physical Senses than Men?

Women have far greater sensory capacities than men, as a whole, and much of this may be due to the fact that sex hormones often enhance sensory ability.

Women’s Hearing

Women typically have a higher sensitivity to higher frequencies than men (M. Gotfrit, 1995). Moreover, studies performed by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine in 2000 concluded through brain imaging that women listen by using both sides of their brain, while men just use one side.

In her book Awakening Intuition, Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz, a behavioral neuroscientist and medical intuitive, states that women actually use different parts of their brain when listening to words, depending upon where they are in their ovulation cycle. She explains:

Studies have shown that the left brain is primed for mostly positive words such as “joy,” “happiness,” “love,” and “cheer,” while the right hemisphere picks up negative-toned words. It’s been found, that before ovulation most women’s ability to hear words occurs chiefly in the left hemisphere or the right ear. After ovulation, however, the right brain picks up the tempo. Now the women hear more words such as “grief,” “anger,” and “depression.” This is more than an explanation for PMS. What’s happening is that the brain is allowing women to hear things they don’t usually want to hear. As they turn inward premenstrually, they may actually be getting more access to matter they need to hear but ignore during the rest of their cycle. Might this be part of intuition?

In their book Brain Sex, the authors, geneticist Anne Moir and journalist David Jessel (1992), discuss various aspects of the sensory differences between men and women. They indicate that one researcher believes infant girls actually “hear” noises as being twice as loud as do males. With regard to auditory sensing, they explain:

Women show a greater sensitivity to sound. The dripping tap will get the women out of bed before the man has even woken up. Six times as many girls as boys can sing in tune. They are also more adept in noticing small changes in volume, which goes some way in explaining womens’ superior sensitivity to that ‘tone of voice’ which their male partners are often accused of adopting.

Women’s Sense of Smell and Taste

Women have a much more acute sense of olfaction than men. This is due in great part to women’s hormone fluctuations. The time when a woman’s sense of smell is strongest is during her reproductive ages. Her sense of smell fluctuates in direct relationship to the infusion of hormones in her body and varies according to the time during her menstrual cycle.

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When calculated with Day 0 of the cycle starting at the beginning of her period, the 14th day, which is the start of ovulation, marks the peak of her smell sensitivity. This coincides with the surge in plasma estradiol (in estrogen), which is also increased during pregnancy. It is well known that pregnant women experience all kinds of smell and taste disturbances.

In fact, in a survey of pregnant women, 76 percent of pregnant women reported such disturbance, including 76 percent experiencing increased smell sensitivity. I remember my own sense of smell became almost unbearably sensitive when I was pregnant with my first child while living in New York City. It was so powerful that I could actually smell when and where a dog had urinated on the sidewalk from all the way across a busy avenue!

Other studies have shown women use their powerful sense of smell to identify their newborn babies. One study showed that 90 percent of women were able to identify their newborn babies by smell alone after being with their babies between for only 10 minutes to one hour. For periods greater than one hour, 100 percent of the women could recognize their baby’s distinctive smell. (Kaitz, et al).

A woman’s powerful sense of smell seems to extend to all phases of her life. Emotions are strongly linked with body smells. In fact, a variety of emotions can be transmitted as sensory information without the need for language or even body cues. Fear, sexuality, and happiness can all be expressed by smell alone. Research has demonstrated, for example, that a panel of women was able to discriminate between armpit swabs taken from people watching “happy” and “sad” films. Men were far less skilled at making accurate smell determinations. (Ackerl, et al). Other research has shown that armpit swabs taken from donor women at a particular phase in their menstrual cycle and wiped on the upper lip of a recipient woman (yuck!) can actually advance or delay the menstruation cycle of the recipient so it aligns with that of the donor (Stern & McClintock).

Tuning In to The Data in Our Environment

If we can tune in, with or without conscious awareness, to the data in the environment that comes from smell, we can then “intuit” illness, happiness, sadness, fear, sexuality, family relationship, and probably a whole host of other traits without having any obvious or logical basis. If women have a more powerful sense of olfaction, then they will be—by definition—more intuitive than men.

As it turns out, not only do women hear and smell better than men, but they also have a stronger sense of taste. In the early 1990s, experimental psychologist Dr. Linda Bartoshuk and her colleagues noticed that certain test subjects seemed to have an especially elevated sense of taste. She labeled this group super-tasters. These people actually experience a far greater range of tastes than the average person. An astonishing 35 percent of all women are supertasters, as opposed to only 15 percent of men—that’s more than double.

Women’s Sense of Touch

Women have a much lower threshold for experiencing pain. They react fast and more acutely to pain even though they have a higher threshold for chronic, long-term pain than do men.

Women are literally more sensitive to pain because they are wired to experience more pain! A report by Dr. Bradon Wilhelmi, assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, involved a comparison of tiny skin samples taken from the upper cheeks of 10 men and 10 women cadavers donated to science. A microscopic analysis revealed that women had 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter versus only 17 in the men—more than double the number of nerve fibers. The researchers concluded that their findings favored a physical rather than psychosocial explanation for more pronounced pain perception in women.

Yet another interesting fact: women can detect heat more easily than men, according to pain researcher April Hazard Vallerand, PhD, RN, at Detroit’s Wayne State University College of Nursing.

Women’s Sense of Sight

That gets us to the last of the traditional five senses and yes, women have a better sense of sight as well.

In terms of blindness, blind adults are divided in half among men and women. However, blind men comprise the younger group—58 percent of those between the ages of 18-44, while blind women comprise the older group—61 percent of those older than 75. Because blindness often is a function of old age and that women have a much longer lifespan than men, the fact that more women are blind when they are older does not come as much of a surprise—there aren’t as many men around! The average life expectancy of a woman today is 79 years old, as opposed to that of 72 years old for men.

Women also see color better than men. In an article appearing in the April 28, 2000 Science Daily entitled “Map Makers Can Avoid Confusing the Color Blind,” it was reported that one in 12 men has at least some color perception problems. While only 8 percent of men are color blind, they constitute a whopping 95 percent of the 9,000,000 people in the United States who suffer from color-vision impairment! Less than 0.5 percent of women, or only one out of 200 worldwide, are born color blind. Of those people who are color blind, the vast majority (99 percent) are protans (red weak) and deutans (green weak). What this means is that on average women literally experience more color—shades, variations, nuances, tones, and distinctions—in their lives than men.

Interestingly, studies of male color blindness led scientists to discover that there exists an entire group of people who actually have superior color vision! Roughly 99 million women worldwide, representing 2 to 3 percent of the total population of women, actually see more colors than the rest of us. They actually see an entire range of colors—theoretically 100 million more shades of color that lie somewhere between red and green—that the rest of us cannot see!

This condition only occurs in women and not men because the red and green cones are genetically located on the X chromosome. Because chromosomes often mutate over time, women—who all have two X chromosomes by definition—stand a greater chance of getting a double mutation and this results in superior color vision. By contrast, men, who always have XY chromosomes and thus only have one shot at getting the vision chromosome right, have a far greater chance of losing a red or green cone leading to color blindness.

Color is more predominant for women in yet another way. Besides actually seeing more color with their retinas, more women see color in their dreams. Researchers have found that although 75 percent of the adult population reports dreaming in color, a much higher percentage of women report dreaming in color.

Women Biologically Wired to Receive More Sensory Information

Overall, however, I think I have shown that women are biologically wired so that they receive a tremendous amount of sensory information, much of it invisible (and often less important) to men! As a result, it comes as no great surprise that women seem to have a special line hooked into a world that is “invisible” to others.

If you toss into this mix, the idea that we have many more than five senses, then it becomes conceivable that women may be more receptive to a whole host of other senses rendering them more intuitive than men.


Test your ability to accurately interpret facial expressions. Women almost always score higher than men on this. There are several websites you can try (

© 2012 Nancy du Tertre. All rights reserved.
Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, New Page Books
a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ.  800-227-3371. 

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Psychic Intuition: Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask but Were Afraid to Know  by Nancy du Tertre.Psychic Intuition: Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask but Were Afraid to Know
by Nancy du Tertre.

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About the Author

Nancy du Tertre, author of: Psychic Intuition--Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask but Were Afraid to Know Nancy du Tertre is an attorney who became a trained psychic detective, spiritual medium, medical intuitive, and paranormal investigator. A magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University, she is a frequent media guest. Nancy also lectures to university psychology students and paranormal conventions and hosts her own radio show--Hot Leads Cold Cases--on Para-X and CBS Radio. Her Website is

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