Periods! Blegh! Most women get them and most of us hate them.
It’s not just about the uncomfortable cramping, bloating or bleeding, but the hormonal changes that can leave us changing moods faster than changing tampons and making our family members run for cover during the week (or so) that we have our period.
We at SAHM Headquarters have affectionately termed this week as “Red Tent Week”, usually the week of the event, but can extend to the week beforehand also. But events of late have led us to ask the question; do men experience their own version of the dreaded Aunty Flo? Do our fellow mankind suffer their own ‘man periods’?
Studies have shown, through extensive research, that although men do not suffer the physical symptoms of menstruation, such as bleeding, cramping, and bloating, they do experience hormonal shifts and the accompanying mood swings.
Like women, men have their own unique hormone, known as testosterone, which fluctuates four to five times a day. The female equivalent, oestrogen, only fluctuates every three to four days. One theory states that men can actually sense when a female is menstruating through a refined sense of smell (eww!) and their testosterone reaches its peak during this period.
These biochemical changes cause mood changes in the male, and the nature of these moods simply depend on environmental factors. If they are stressed or in a situation that causes them distress or frustration, the male experiences an unexplained heightened response of anger and/or irritation, and vice versa. Apparently, the more stress a woman brings upon her male during her period, the worse his ‘man period’ will be!
Men that have a spouse or girlfriend, particularly one who lives with him, are more likely to experience ‘man periods’.
Those who are not involved closely or intimately with a woman will usually respond less intensely to those woman who work or reside in close proximity to them.
Another theory is that men suffer from IMS (Irritable Male Syndrome) in conjunction with our PMS. This, again, is based on the theory of the fluctuating testosterone levels and biochemical changes of males. IMS can also be seen as ‘sympathy PMS’, where men develop similar emotional symptoms as their female counterparts just before and during menstruation.
Men with IMS are seen as being irrationally angry and irritated, suffer from increased anxiety and display low self-esteem (sound familiar girls?).
Scientists from as far back as the 17th century have also studied the idea of the ‘man period’ and found some startling results. When a man’s weight and excretions (much like our cervical mucus) were monitored, they showed a significant increase at a certain time of the month.
There was a distinct presence of the usual pre-period acne break out on the face, sex drive was found to be lower and there was a general feeling of lack of energy and fatigue. These studies were also carried out with animals, particularly deer and elephants, with the same hormone fluctuations and feelings of laziness and irritability being recorded!
So, what do we women do if our man is experiencing a ‘man period’? Well, the answer is really up to the individual. If your other half tends to cut you some slack in the mood department when you are experiencing the dreaded PMS, you might return the favour and cut your man some slack. Or you can play the ultimate female card and write the whole thing off as a load of crap and ignore him.
If, however, you or your male partner feel that his symptoms are becoming a concern, see your GP. Treatment could be as simple as a change in lifestyle or, to a greater extent, hormone cream or medication, but it is medically beneficial to get hormone levels checked if you believe it is more than just a ‘man period’.