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Can Men Get PMT?

male pmt

I, like many women feel, that we have been given the raw deal when it comes to our fluctuating hormones.  Whether we are menstruating, pregnant or going through the menopause, our bodies are constantly changing.  And there is at least once or twice a month when I wish I was a man. During this sensitive time of the month some men and most women make allowances for our sometimes unbalanced and wayward emotions. Country singer, Tammy Wynette, got it right when she sung ‘sometimes it it’s hard to be a woman’.

Men, seem to have an easier time of it, or so I thought, until I came across a recent study which reported that men claim to suffer from PMT too.  The survey by interviewed 2412 people; half of these were men and had been in a relationship for more than a year.  The results showed that 26 per cent of the men had premenstrual symptoms.  56 per cent were irritable at certain times of the month, 51 per cent were tired, 47 per cent had increased cravings, 43 per cent were hungrier, 43 per cent were more sensitive, 15 per cent felt more bloated and 5 per cent also believed that they suffered from menstrual cramps.  Most of the women agreed that their boyfriend/husband had a time of the month where they suffered from a ‘man period’.  Almost 44 per cent of the women said they had to ‘try and cheer him up’ and 39 per cent said it was ‘like walking on eggshells’.  However, 33 per cent of women said they didn’t believe their man suffered from a ‘man period’ and told him to ‘man up’.

Dr Jed Diamond, an experienced psychotherapist and author of ‘The Irritable Male’ believes that men do have periods which he calls ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’.  He believes there are 4 main reasons for the mood swings.

  1. Hormonal fluctuations

When testosterone is either too high or too low it can cause mood swings. In the    1950’s Allan Erslev, a Danish Scientist took male urine samples and discovered that the hormones increased and decreased for 30 days, in sync with the moon’s cycle.

  1. Biochemical changes in brain chemistry

A low level of serotonin can result in aggression in men.  One of the reasons for a low production of serotonin is not eating a healthy diet.  Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein can cause irritability in men. She said “Eating protein when we need carbohydrates will make us grumpy, irritable, or restless.”  The research also found that alcohol temporarily increases serotonin.  This explains why we feel in good spirits when we first drink, but the effects don’t last long, and when the serotonin is reduced, we experience sleep problems, depression and aggression.

  1. Increasing levels of stress

The body can’t distinguish between positive or negative stress but we can look at alternative ways of handling it.  In cave man times men had to hunt and kill animals for food.  When they were in danger, they ran away.

This was survival.  Because times have changed and our lives have become more sedentary in general, we are not using up that adrenalin.   This can lead to anxiety and irritability.

  1. Changes in male roles and identity

In Paleolithic times men’s roles were straightforward, it was to make weapons and bring home an animal they had slaughtered for the family’s dinner.  However, in recent times men’s roles are not as clear. In some families if women have the better job, they go out and work, while the man stays at home to care for the children.  When it comes to marital breakdowns the mother often gets custody of the children and the father might only see his children at the weekend or on holidays etc.  This could lead to them feeling stressed and powerless.

So guys when you are going through your ‘man period’ remember to listen to your body and increase your carbs instead of your protein.  Be kind to yourself and remember this low mood will pass, in a few days you will be back to yourself again.

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