Space travel has different health effects on men than it does on women, according to a recent study jointly conducted by NASA and by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).
The study, which looked at 477 male astronauts and 57 female astronauts, all of whom had been to space up to June 2013, was conducted in anticipation of longer duration spaceflights in the future. One of these will include a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Six working groups studied data from the spaceflights in which the astronauts had participated. They concentrated on cardiovascular, sensorimotor, behavioral, musculoskeletal, immunological, and reproductive systems and negative impacts on these due to having spent long periods in space.
In several of these areas, men appear to tolerate spaceflight better than women. Female astronauts tended to experience increased heart rates in times of stress and had higher rates of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), as well as higher rates of cancer caused by radiation, than their male counterparts.
After returning to Earth, women astronauts also had a harder time standing without fainting–a condition known as orthostatic intolerance–than did men.
Men were found to be more likely to experience loss of hearing and vision as consequences of space travel, the study indicated.
Behavioral responses appeared the same in both genders.
The study is reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Women’ Health.