During my years and years of close observation of the male temperament (if that’s what you want to call it), I started, and then continued, noticing a certain pattern. This pattern was observed in more than one guy, at different ages, and over months and months, so it was definitely not my imagination. The thing is – sometimes it almost seemed like the guys I was around, be they friends, boyfriends, work colleagues, fellow students or whatever, were going through a phase similar to PMS!
At a certain time of the month, periodically, they would become especially moody, depressed, and emotional. This would last for approximately four days and then suddenly, they’d be their old jocose self again. Sounds familiar?
Of course, a man cannot physically expect ‘Aunt Flo’ to come calling every month. Men are just not geared up for it so to speak, however it is a fact that men do experience testosterone fluctuations and the backlash of these is actually very similar to female PMS symptoms!
This is IMS – Irritable Male Syndrome.
It was physiotherapist Jed Diamond who defined the term IMS, describing it as ‘a sense of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety and anger … that is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress and loss of male identity.’ Source
It is commonly assumed that only women are driven and influenced by hormones. However, in reality, both men and women go through a number of hormonal cycles. For example, testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day. They are usually at their peak in the morning, and the level drops as the day goes by. Similarly, men also go through a hormonal cycle during puberty and another one when they are middle aged, where they go through the so-called andropause (I suppose, the male equivalent of the menopause, sort of), during which their levels of testosterone decrease.
Irritable Male Syndrome can be caused by stress, a change in diet, or even ‘sympathy PMS’. Whatever the cause, it is different for all men, and can cause men to become moodier, angrier, and less talkative.
However, if your partner is exhibiting these signs, do not think he might be necessarily suffering from this syndrome! He could just have had a bad day, or have personal issues you know nothing about. He could even have an issue with you! So, don’t jump to conclusions.
If, on the other hand, you have noticed a regular pattern in his behaviour, and it is becoming an issue in your relationship, perhaps it would be better to take more clinical steps. Or just simply cut the guy some slack. We’ve all been through it, haven’t we?
Do you know any guy who might be suffering from IMS? And if you are a guy, what do you think about this suggestion?