New research finds some men believe they go through a ‘man period.’ (Stocksy)
It’s a known biological fact: Most women of a reproductive age get monthly menstrual periods. But new research has found that some men believe they go through a similar experience, too.
In a survey of 2,412 people conducted by the website Vouchercloud.com, 26 percent of men said they think they have monthly “man periods.” They reported symptoms similar to PMS —irritability, fatigue, food cravings, feeling constantly hungry, and mood swings.
It doesn’t seem to be in their heads: Almost two-thirds of women in a relationship with a man period-sufferer said they think the condition is real, and a fifth of the women said they think their partner handles his period worse than she does with hers.
While most women said they’re sympathetic to a guy’s man period, 33 percent admitted that they’ve told their partner to “man up” over the whole thing.
Is this for real?!
Kinda. While experts say men are affected by regular hormonal changes, they’re at odds about how often it occurs.
Jed Diamond, PhD, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome and Male Menopause tells Yahoo Health that monthly man periods, which he calls Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS), are legit. “IMS is a state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, increasing stress, and changes in male role identity,” he says.
According to Diamond, all men go through these changes — some may simply not notice them. “We’re not sure what the causes are, but there are indications that it is related to the complex hormonal cycles that men experience,” he says. “They are much more subtle than the cycles we see in women, so they have been often ignored, neglected, or misunderstood.”
But functional nutritionist Alisa Vitti, HHC, author of Womancode and founder of FloLiving.com, tells Yahoo Health that men experience hormonal shifts on a daily — not monthly — basis. Vitti says men can feel the effects of low androgen (a male sex hormone) and cortisol (a stress hormone) throughout the day.
A man who is hormonally balanced should have a surge of cortisol and testosterone (another male sex hormone) early in the day, another surge in the middle of the day, and small doses around 3 p.m. and in the evening, she says.
Men with lower levels of androgen (which starts to decline at age 25) and cortisol may have PMS-like symptoms every day. “They could really feel irritable at any point,” says Vitti.
However, she says men may think they’re experiencing these shifts on a monthly basis due to lifestyle changes, like going out and drinking more during a particular week, which can aggravate symptoms and make them feel worse.
S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles agrees. “It’s a little difficult to associate a few days of mood swings, hunger, and fatigue to this particular kind of circadian rhythm in testosterone,” he tells Yahoo Health. Ramin says outside variables may be to blame for the symptoms, like men reacting to the way their female partners are behaving during their periods or work stress that occurs around the same time every month.
However, Ramin points out that the study of men’s health and hormone physiology is in its infancy. “Is it possible that there’s some unknown hormone causing these changes in 25 percent of men? It’s possible but we just don’t know,” he says.
There are a few things that men can do to lessen the symptoms of man periods. Soy can be problematic because it can disrupt a man’s hormones, Vitti says. If a man is gaining weight around his midsection and having acne issues, it’s best to avoid soy.
Diet can be a big factor, says Diamond. Men on a low-carb diet (who also eliminate healthy carbs) can lower their levels of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which can make them feel more irritable.
Lack of sleep is also a potential issue, Vitti says —it can prevent a man’s body from making enough testosterone, leaving him feeling sluggish and moody.
“It’s important to recognize that there are a lot of new factors in our day to day self-care that aren’t helping us keep our hormones balanced,” Vitti says. “You’re supposed to feel vibrant and vital. If you’re not, it’s not normal and not something that we should gloss over.”
Think you or your partner suffers from man periods, but want to know for sure? Diamond has a quiz on his website to help determine whether it’s an issue.