PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The next time a guy you know gets the flu, you may want to show him a little more sympathy than you normally would.

Experts are predicting an especially bad year for the flu this winter.

A new study from Stanford University’s School of Medicine found that the flu vaccine is more effective in women than in men. For women who do get the flu, the study found they are better at fighting off the virus.

“Are men less equipped to deal with infection? And technically, yes,” Dr. Jake Deutsch said.

According to the study conducted on mice, the reason is estrogen – the female sex hormone.

“The female mice that produced estrogen activated a particular enzyme and that enzyme was able to help them fight infection,” Dr. Deutsch said.

Dr. Deutsch said it may just be about the way we’re made.

“There’s an idea there that estrogen, which is native to women’s endocrine system, is there because part of their role is to be nurturers they have to take care of not only themselves but their families,” Dr. Deutsch said. “It’s like you have a weaker immune system so you can’t handle the little cold that we have.”

Some women might say there’s finally some evidence backing up what they already know – men are bigger babies when it comes to getting sick.

Dr. Deutsch said either way, the study could likely raise the possibility of new immune boosting drugs.

“I think there is the possibility of somehow delivering the key elements of estrogen to men in a safe way in order to activate that enzyme,” Dr. Deutsch said.

Doctors don’t recommend that men take estrogen supplements, but they do suggest other ways of boosting immunity, including getting plenty of sleep and Vitamin C.

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Dr. Maria Simbra