The Man Period: Urban Myth Or Actual Phenomenon?
Let’s be honest, if a woman appears to be moody or irritable, she’s often assumed to be on her period. It’s as if there could be no other reason why we could have an attitude, or be irritable. Of course they often overlook the fact that women aren’t the only ones with hormones that fluctuate like this that affect our moods. Nearly a quarter of men actually have “man periods” which affect their hormones according to a UK study.
What’s even more interesting is that those men have their “man period” every month, just like women do. They just don’t bleed. That same study showed the significant change in men’s hormonal fluctuation, which affected their mood and altered their behavior. Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, Ph.D., author of The Irritable Male Syndrome, has been studying the condition for over 40 years.
According to an interview done with Women’s Health Magazine for their May 2016 issue, here is what Dr. Diamond says about the “man period”.
As your guy is driving to the park, you offhandedly point out that he should take the next exit. He totally blows his lid and calls you a control freak. Excuse you?
What’s behind it: Must be spring. Men’s testosterone levels tend to spike in the fall and plummet in March, April, and May, a dip that can cause irritability and aggression (in both men and women, by the way). “That may sound counterintuitive because testosterone is the primary male hormone, and we assume guys would be more aggressive when they’re pumped up with it,” says Diamond. But it’s actually low levels that can mess with his mojo and cause irrational outbursts.
Help him out: “It’s tough because his anger is being directed at you, so you feel instantly defensive,” says clinical psychologist Michelle Brody, Ph.D., author of Stop the Fight! An Illustrated Guide for Couples. “But he won’t come down from his anger unless he either feels validated or has space to cool off.” Wait five minutes to let the tension settle, suggests dating coach Adam LoDolce, founder of SexyConfidence.com. Then try a brief touch, putting your palm on his leg or holding his hand, and ask if there’s something bothering him. “A light touch communicates an added level of compassion. It shows that you truly care about him and want to resolve the issue at hand,” says LoDolce.
Half an hour after dinner, you walk into the kitchen to find hubby munching on the leftovers you had saved for the kids’ lunches. He then asks if you bought any more Chunky Monkey ice cream.
What’s behind it: Has he been trying to cut down on carbs? Because low levels of serotonin—a brain chemical that regulates appetite and feelings of well-being—can be the side effect of a paleo or gluten-free eating plan. “These diets are so popular among men now, and low serotonin can make him both ravenous and cranky,” says Diamond. Another depleter? Lack of good ol’ sunshine.
Help him out: Serotonin also helps control impulses, so in the moment, your guy may really not be able to stop himself from eating. Making him feel bad about that won’t help. So simply scope out the food he’s hoovering: If it’s healthy, let him munch. But if it’s strictly desserts and junk food, make sure to stock the fridge with lower-cal grub until your man’s Hulk side subsides, suggests LoDolce. And if he shoos you out of the kitchen (with a “Lay off me, I’m starving!”), “it might help to remind yourself that he’s not really mad, he’s just hungry, which makes anyone irritable,” says Brody.
While standing in front of a full-length mirror, he pokes at his gut and says he doesn’t want to go suit shopping…or to your friend’s wedding. Nice.
What’s behind it: “Belly fat has a hormone in it that converts testosterone to estrogen,” says Diamond, “so if he has actually put on a few pounds, that could be threatening his feelings of attractiveness on several levels—not just feeling fat, but also feeling less energetic and less sexual.” Right now, James Bond he is not.
Help him out: Don’t merely dismiss his worries (has the “You’re not fat!” retort ever worked with you?). “When someone’s feeling extra sensitive, their perceptions can be off, but flat-out denying those just makes it worse,” says Brody. Instead, approach the problem in practical terms and help him find a solution, LoDolce says. “If he’s focusing on his gut, suggest he cut down on beer. His arms, do more curls at the gym.” Yes, he knows these things—but bringing the issue down to a simple, can-do level often makes the most sense to guys. What also doesn’t hurt? Telling him exactly what you find incredibly hot about his bod.
He comes home all psyched about the new sound system he just bought for the TV—his third expensive impulse purchase this month.
What’s behind it: All-caps stress. “The higher a man’s stress level, the lower his testosterone,” says Diamond. That dip can raise his anxiety and make him feel like he’s losing a sense of control, which can poke a hole inhis masculinity. Buying a big-ticket item (like tech or sporting gear) can bring back his feelings of power.
Help him out: Seeing your guy spending recklessly can be alarming. “In a quiet moment, talk about why this impulsive behavior makes him feel better,” suggests Brody. If he admits to feeling stressed or bummed out lately, bring up other, less costly ways to boost his happiness, like going for a long drive, learning a new physical skill (like surfing or boxing), or trying a meditation class together.”
So there you have it! You’re not the only one…your man has his period too! Keep that in mind next time he has an attitude for no reason. (smile)