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Do men have a monthly cycle? It looks like the answer is 'yes'.

Do men, like women, have a monthly cycle?

I’ve pondered this question, inwardly and silently, on many occasions. Are the moods fluctuations they seem to go through each month an actual hormonal condition, or are they simply a figment of my overactive imagination?

I’ve lived with the same man for more than 20 years, and I see a definite change in him – and can almost pinpoint the day in each month – he will get grumpy and irrational. I know it. He knows it. But neither us have ever said anything about it.

Maybe that's why I decided to look into the medical reason behind it before it damages our relationship.

We all know if a woman's mood fluctuates, it is automatically assumed to be related to her "time of the month", menopause or approaching menopause. But if a man is grumpy or short, we are neither given a medical explanation, nor do we, as women, seek one. Because as far as we've always been taught, men aren't cyclical like women - right?

Wrong.

This fantastic Good Men Project article outlines why men are subject to depression, seasonal or otherwise, how they too have cyclical hormone levels, why their virility can be key to this and that to confirm that yes, Male Irritability Syndrome is most definitely a thing.

In the article, psychotherapist Jed Diamond discusses his findings from more than 40 years of his own clinical research, as well as responses from 10,000 men. He discovered why millions of men are becoming angry and depressed, and why they so often vent their frustration on the women they love the most. He went on to explain that Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) is a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.

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"Here is how it works: In the body, a certain amount of testosterone gets converted to oestrogen. Males and females have oestrogen and testosterone in our bodies. When we put on weight, our fat cells are more active in converting testosterone into oestrogen. The more oestrogen we have and the less testosterone we have, the more irritable we become and the less sense of our own manly strength that we have. That’s one way they get out of whack."

So, what does all this mean? Eastern and Western medicines agree on what causes of IMS but it does boil down to is this: when testosterone starts to decrease and oestrogen is on the rise, men are actually experiencing something that’s a lot like PMS.

What are other possible causes for IMS then?

"Ayurveda looks at the male moon cycle as being affected by sexual activity, and equates seminal fluid as having the same energetic effect as women’s uterine blood; the belief is that ejaculation leaves men with the need to rest rebuild those energies. Western medicine? We still don’t know. The data doesn’t support the idea that too much sex messes with your testosterone levels on a long-range basis. We do know that when the highs and lows are too far out of the normal range, it has an adverse effect on men’s physical and emotional health."

What can men do to counter IMS though? Will it one day be acceptable for them to take a few days off work when feeling particularly low? Sit on the couch and demolish a few blocks of chocolate and have a good weep? Should we, as women, simply be more understanding and affectionate towards men during this time?

Here's the bad news: they will probably be reluctant to a) admit they have a problem and then b) see a doctor and fix the situation.

But here's the good news: there are some very easy measures that can help the situation.

Seasonal studies show April is the low testosterone time of year for most men. But if it’s been a low energy or irritable time for men in your life, don’t go out in search of testosterone boosting supplements - unless you want the Incredible Hulk living in your house.

According to the Good Men Project, there are natural ways to boost testosterone

Maca: Maca root is what’s referred to as an adaptogen. It balances the hormones rather than simply increasing one particular hormone, and helps increase overall energy and improves mood. It’s available as a powder that can be added to smoothies, and has a slightly nutty taste. If you’re not a fan, it’s also available in capsules.

Ginseng: Another adaptogen, ginseng is used in Chinese medicine (and now widely in the West as well) as a tonic for both men and women who are run down or to help boost qi. While it is not a stimulant like caffeine, high doses can have a stimulant effect; it’s best taken in the morning.

Oysters: Their reputation as an aphrodisiac is mostly due to the testosterone boost they offer from their high levels of zinc. If you are a vegetarian or allergic to shellfish, pumpkin seeds are another great zinc-rich food, and zinc supplements are available as well.

Watch your waist. Hanging on to extra weight—especially around the belly—will increase the amount of oestrogen in your body and make testosterone take a nose dive.

While we don't know why men’s hormones fluctuate it is important to recognise that men's moods are affected by the hormones - and that it's perfectly normal. Most importantly, the issue needs to be addressed by both parties before it potentially damages otherwise healthy relationships.

Another tip: be particularly mindful of your father. He might not just be a grumpy old so and so after all...

Have you found a male in your life to be particularly irritable for no obvious reason lately? 

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Tags: body-image , exercise-and-fitness , health
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