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Posted by Sugandhaa Pandey

We all have heard our reasonable explanations been given the blanket cover of—“Is it that time of the month again?”, or “Are you PMSing?”, or “This is the hormones talking, right?” Folks, now you have your own arsenal to fire back at such remarks that devalue your intellect. Men also have periods.

Men Also Have Periods?!

And when I say that ‘Men also have periods’, I do not refer to monthly blood loss but to a monthly hormonal cycle. Science has proven that hormones ebb and rise over days, weeks and months in men, like in women. Studies have also proved that testosterone levels fluctuate in men with varying seasons. This is called Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS), a term coined by psychotherapist Jed Diamond.

Image Source: Rooster Magazine

Factors leading to male hormonal fluctuations are, but not limited to, the level of stress the body is exposed to, age, bad sleep cycles and eating disorders. These can in turn affect a man’s psychological well-being as well as noted by sex therapist Janet Brito.

Factors leading to male hormonal fluctuations are, but not limited to, the level of stress the body is exposed to, age, bad sleep cycles and eating disorders. These can in turn affect a man’s psychological well-being as well as noted by sex therapist Janet Brito.

Symptoms of ‘man-struation’ mimic those of pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS). It entails experiencing anger, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, fatigue and mood swings. These symptoms may result in testosterone deficiency. These hormonal cycles are regular enough to be called ‘male-period’. Both genders share the same biological phenomena. But if this is considered only in its physicality—presence of endometrium, ovary, eggs, and uterus—then opinions will differ. For example, men do not go through the cramps and blood loss that women go through, on a monthly basis.

Also read: The Menstruation Benefit Bill Proposes Two Days Menstrual Leave. Does This Help Women?

Middle-aged men, like middle-aged women, experience a decrease in their natural levels of testosterone. Juxtaposed with menopause, this condition is also called andropause or sometimes commonly referred as ‘male-menopause‘.

Image Source: The Popple

Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS is not a recognised medical ailment. Endocrinologist from Comenius University, Peter Celec, published a study in 2002 that showed the both men and women experience lunar rhythms of testosterone, for men on day 18 of a 30 day cycle. But his findings have not been accepted in practice. Celec believes that if women did not bleed, establishments would be skeptical of their monthly cycles too. Hence, the treatment of IMS is aimed at mitigation and adaptation—exercising, healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and finding ways to relieve stress.

The major problem with men seeking help, or accepting that their bodies are same as women, is denial. Men have been trained to believe themselves to be the superior sex, peaking rationality, more sinewy arms, less emotions, and no crying.

Denial.

Each one of us, as individuals, goes through bad days that result in crabby attitudes. But persistent mood fluctuations are not normal. It’s an indication of a possible ailment. It’s an indication that one should seek medical help, if necessary.

The major problem with men seeking help or discussing Irritable Male Syndrome, or accepting that their bodies are same as women, is denial. Men have been trained to believe themselves to be the superior sex, peaking rationality, more sinewy arms, less emotions, and no crying. Patriarchy is cultural violence. It has bred a toxic masculinity based on biological differences which is harmful to everyone. It seeks to reinforce rigid gender norms. There exists non-binary people and gender fluidity is an accepted terminology. Being a man is not about having the required genitalia. We all are humans who have certain biological functions inherent in us, but these biological functions should not contribute to one’s individual identity, or form a basis of discrimination, or establish a hegemony of prowess of one over other.

Image has been provided by the author herself.

Patriarchy nurtures the notion of aggression along with itself. While teaching a male to break the fetters of emotional slavery, it is not allowing the male to resolve his emotions. Homo sapiens are an emotive species. We have evolved to communicate our emotions in better ways. Evolution of language and arts is an example that reinforces these ideas. Patriarchy conditions humans to go against what comes naturally to them. It has been suggested that violent activities like mass shootings are a result of such conditioning. It results in mental health problems culminating in suicide. If toxic masculinity is replaced by a culture of open-ness and acceptance, some good can come out of it.

Also read: It’s 2018, Why Are We Still Stigmatising Menstruation?

19th November, 2019 was International Men’s Day. While it was commendable that many came out to thank the men in their lives for constant support, I wish this article to nurture a culture of supporting men. Celebrate men in your lives and also remember to care for their mental health. It is not a duty dictated by your gender stereotype, only a humanly instinct.


Sugandhaa is a masters in Philosophy from LSR. Her major areas of interest are feminism, art, and aesthetics. She enjoys engaging with historical fiction – when she isn’t reading it, she is daydreaming about it! You can find her on LinkedIn.

Featured Image Source: The Office Quotes

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