Dear Alice,

Why do men have "Adam's apples" and women don't?

Dear Reader,

The Adam's apple is a bulge in the larynx, or voice box, made of cartilage. Cartilage is simply supporting connective tissue that doesn't have blood vessels running through it. Our noses and ears are made of cartilage. The particular section that we call the Adam's apple is actually enlarged thyroid cartilage, called this because it is located right above the thyroid gland.

The thyroid cartilage is usually about the same size in both girls and boys until puberty, at which point the area gets bigger in some guys, and thus is more noticeable. While not exactly common, some women do experience an enlargement of their thyroid cartilage as well, giving the appearance of an Adam's apple. The Adam's apple is considered a secondary sex characteristic, such as increased body hair, and is caused by more testosterone flowing through men's (and some women's) bodies. It has no real purpose.

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