Why do women not have Adam's apples

Radiolexicon HealthThe Adam's apple - formative for the voice

When Adam nibbled on the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, the bite got stuck in his throat. Hence the name Adam's apple! But why have only men since then been wearing this blemish, when Eve had seduced them to eat from the tree of knowledge? It is said that she had cleverly chewed before she swallowed.

There should be absolutely nothing to this popular explanation of the origin of the name. Among other things, because the Bible doesn't talk about apples at all, only some kind of fruit. However, the Hebrew word for thyroid cartilage also means apple. And Adam means nothing else in this ancient language than: man.

In women, the angle of the thyroid cartilage plates is obtuse

"The Adam's apple is a protrusion in the throat that moves up and down when we swallow and when we speak, you just see a little sharp corner sticking out of it, in men," explains Professor Tadeus Nawka, specialist in Voice and swallowing disorders at the Charité. And he adds that Eva was probably not that clever in Paradise after all. Because women also have this part of the larynx, the Adam's apple: "But the angle of the thyroid cartilage plates is obtuse and so it does not protrude so much, in men this angle becomes pointed due to the growth of the larynx, which makes it visible."

In women, the Adam's apple cannot usually be seen, but it can be felt. The difference to the visible male larynx has to do with the male hormone testosterone, explains Carsten Niemitz, long-time professor of biology and anthropologist at the Free University of Berlin.

"Up to puberty it is pretty much the same for boys and girls, and during puberty, with the hormonal surges, there is a stronger growth in boys, which manifests itself when the voice breaks, because the whole area of ​​the larynx becomes larger Vocal cords get longer and heavier, and that's how adolescent males get the adult voices. "

The function of the vocal folds

The Adam's apple sits at the top of the thyroid gland and is therefore also called thyroid cartilage. And the height or depth of the voice depends on how much the cartilage grows during puberty, explains voice expert Tadeus Nawka: "This growth of the thyroid cartilage means that the vocal folds - the muscle that is stretched in it - - that they also grow, and this growth of the vocal folds results in a greater length, and longer vocal folds vibrate more slowly and therefore produce deeper tones. "

What is the Adam's apple for anyway? Carsten Niemitz: "First of all, it protects our airways, and it is an abutment for the muscles that allow our voice control, i.e. the vocal muscles. These muscles have to be firm, if that were soft all around, the vocal cords, for example, couldn't be move as well as the language takes. "

And that's just missing from all other beings, including mammals. This is likely to be the reason why they certainly have something like a language, but none that is comparable to that of humans.

"You don't have an Adam's apple, but embryologically they are gill arches. You can feel it very easily above the larynx, you can find it immediately, but it is painful when you press it, and underneath is the cricoid cartilage. And these are remnants of the gill arches, which we genetically acquired from fish half a billion years ago. "

The gestagen and the estrogenic type

Adam's apple is more visible in some women than in most. The biologist and anthropologist Professor Carsten Niemitz has the following theory: "There are two types of women, namely the gestagenic and the estrogenic type; the estrogenic type is more rounded in women, and the gestagenic type is the somewhat slimmer stature, in which, also due to the anatomy of the Neck, which is then a little slimmer, it comes out a little more prominent. That is absolutely healthy and corresponds completely to the variability of normal women. "

However, if a man wants to be converted into a woman, he may have psychological problems with his large Adam's apple. Because that doesn't change anymore, explains Professor Tadeus Nawka.

"The growth is irreversible, the larynx, once it is bigger, then it stays that way, it cannot shrink again even through the administration of hormones, and if you have a protruding larynx, an Adam's apple, in a man-to-woman If you want to change transsexuals, you have to operate on that. "

There are promising methods for this that can have a very mentally relieving effect. And what about possible diseases of the Adam's apple? "We rarely see diseases in this thyroid cartilage itself, mostly benign cartilage tumors, otherwise the diseases in the larynx are more tied to the muscles, the mucous membrane and the nerves."

No conclusions about the most masculine of all organs

And then there is also the rumor that the size not only of the nose but also of the Adam's apple allows conclusions to be drawn about that of the most masculine of all organs. Of course there is nothing to it. Professor Nawka has a nicer explanation: "It is perhaps less the size of the larynx than more the sound of the voice. So more masculinity in a bassier voice, I think that is a reflex; although on the other hand, the tenors have more chances with the Women should have, but the high notes that tenors sing require a lot of effort, so strength is also demonstrated differently in this way. "