Men May Not Bleed, but Here’s Why They Have ‘Periods’
It’s not just women who have their ‘time of the month.’ Indeed, men’s hormonal shifts fluctuate dramatically day-to-day. One expert calls it Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS).
Is your man irritable? Does he growl at you if you dare to take a piece of the chocolate bar that he is eating, or seethe a little too angrily at the loss of the TV remote? Well, understand that maybe it’s his time of the month.
A quarter of British men believe they have ‘man periods,’ according to a new survey, reported by The Telegraph.
The poll of 2,412 people, commissioned by vouchercloud.com, made up of half male and half female respondents, revealed that 26 percent of men experienced conditions associated with the female menstrual cycle, including tiredness, cramps, and increased sensitivity.
Almost half the women surveyed—43 percent—said they helped their men through their ‘man period’ symptoms.
On how they attempted to do this, women showed themselves to be as lacking as men sometimes feel around their female partners. “Try and cheer him up” summed up the modus operandi of 44 percent of women with man-period suffering partners, while “walk around on egg shells” accounted for how 39 percent dealt with it.
Of the men suffering from ‘man periods,’ 56 percent said they were irritable, 51 percent said they were more tired than normal, 47 percent had increased cravings, while 43 percent said they were both constantly hungry and easily upset.
The Telegraph reported that 12 percent said that they were “more sensitive about personal weight.” Five percent reported even suffering from “menstrual cramps.”
The man who describes himself as suffering from man periods will spend an extra £81.53 a month (about $124.72) on purchases to satisfy his food cravings than a man who does not.
Not all of Britain’s households are in a state of multi-sexual, crampy sensitivity—or maybe it’s that a sizeable number of women simply don’t have the patience for these male ‘times of the month’: 33 percent of women who didn’t believe in the existence of the ‘man period’ had told their partners to ‘man up.’
As funny it all may sound, the ‘male period’ may be a very real, medically recognized phenomenon—albeit without the definitive monthly period bleed that women go through.
Professor Peter Schlegel, chairman of Urology at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told the Daily Beast that while women “have very regular hormone cycles and there are obvious symptoms attached to them, men also have extraordinarily similar hormonal changes on a daily basis. Testosterone levels in younger men can vary four-fold in a typical day. What is less clear is how those levels vary day by day and week by week.”
While testosterone levels decline with age, Professor Schlegel said men with their doctors should judge if those levels had decreased to an abnormal level, deleteriously affecting their sex drive, behavior and mood, before seeking treatment.
Jed Diamond, therapist and author of The Irritable Male Syndrome, who is a believer in the “male period,” said that “men have hormonal cycles just as women do.”
Diamond, who also founded men’s wellness site MenAlive.com, says there are two crucial periods when men’s hormones shift: adolescence/young adulthood and midlife.
IMS is characterized by depression, anger, fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, lethargy, low libido, and confusion, he writes on his websites, which “can wreak havoc with a man’s closest relationships.”
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Diamond said he had written about one of the big hormonal shifts that men go through in his first book, the 1997 bestseller, The Male Menopause.
“The real changes in men’s hormone levels happen by the hour,” he said. “Men may not carry babies and have menstrual cycles as women do, but we do have the hormonal changes—fluctuations in body temperature, hot flashes—akin to women.”
If we observe puberty affecting boys and girls, Diamond said, and its raft of hormonal, psychological, physical, and sexual changes, we should be able to accept the same things affecting men as life continues.
IMS is marked, said Diamond, by hormonal changes, brain chemical changes, an increase in stress levels, and the effects of men’s roles changing as they age into their 40s.
“The word ‘hormonal’ has always been associated with women,” said Diamond. “The notion that men can be ‘hormonal’ is seen immediately as a joke. But the truth is, science says, that men have hormonal cycles just like women. Testosterone levels are higher in the morning, and lower at night.”
That joke about men thinking about sex four or five times an hour is rooted in a reality, Diamond said, given men’s daily hormonal fluctuations—and they have monthly fluctuations too.
Men feeling they may be affected by these changes detrimentally should track their cycles, said Diamond. “We have our own time of the month,” he said, adding that if you take away the biological specifics from a PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) survey for women—tenderness of breasts, for example—many men will say they suffer the same emotions expressed by female respondents, like irritability and troubled sleeping patterns.
“The problem is that it just hasn’t been looked for, studied, and taken seriously,” said Diamond of the medical—and, among men and women themselves, personal—neglect of the “male period.”
The slightly good news, said Diamond, is that men and women in a heterosexual relationship or gay men in a relationship should not worry about their “cycles” synching to create a double-whammy “time of the month” household.
“In our research only women’s cycles synch with each other, men’s don’t synch with other men’s or women’s—so women in a relationship with each other can often experience that,” he said.
Around 70,000 men have taken Diamond’s IMS quiz on his website; his suggested solution to their problems include improving their diet and exercising more because men often overeat in response to IMS.
Where necessary, men may want to seek treatment to increase the production of testosterone if it is too low, he said.
So the next time your man is grouchy on the couch, let him have the remote, his chocolate and drink of his choosing, and perhaps, gently suggest he see his doctor. He may not be bleeding, but he’s feeling.