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Adam's got an apple... Why not Eve?

Dear Alice, 

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

Dear Reader,

An apple a day keeps the... Adam's apple away? Not quite, but for those assigned male at birth (AMAB), the Adam's apple is a more prominent feature in the body. Everyone has one, but because it's considered a sexually dimorphic characteristic, during puberty, it becomes more apparent in those who are AMAB. 

The Adam’s apple — clinically known as the laryngeal prominence — is a feature on the front of the neck formed by a lump of thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx, which is also known as the voice box. Cartilage is an essential structural part of the body that protects your joints and bones, supports flexible movement, and maintains structural functions.

So, what are sexually dimorphic characteristic? Sexually dimorphic characteristics, or secondary sex characteristics, develop around puberty and help distinguish between those assigned female at birth and those assigned male at birth. However, they don't directly impact reproduction. Other sexually dimorphic characteristics for people who are assigned male at birth include facial and chest hair, increased body hair, and pelvic build. Similarly, people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB) experience secondary sex characteristics such as rounded hips and breasts.

Generally, the thyroid cartilage remains the same size in both biological sexes until puberty, at which point the feature grows much more in AMAB people due to an increase of testosterone in their system. This growth gives the appearance of an Adam’s apple in many AMAB people and is thought to contribute to the creation of deeper voices in AMAB people. While not exactly common, some AFAB people do experience an enlargement of their thyroid cartilage during puberty as well, giving the appearance of a prominent Adam's apple. Given that Adam’s apples are caused by an increase in testosterone, AFAB trans or nonbinary people undergoing hormone therapy may also experience growth in their thyroid cartilage and develop a more noticeable Adam's apple.

Hope this helps!

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Last updated Sep 09, 2022
Originally published Jun 02, 2000

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