Meet irritable male syndrome, the culprit for your partner’s unexplained mood swings

Call it the man period or male PMS, but irritable male syndrome or IMS can cause anxiety, low sex drive, and of course extreme mood swings.
irritable male syndrome
If your partner is swinging between moods, then he could be a victim of irritable male syndrome. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 8 Dec 2019, 13:16 pm IST
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Every month, before periods strike women go through hell thanks to PMS or premenstrual syndrome. From mood swings to tender breasts and headaches–the affliction renders us irritable (to say the least) thanks to hormones. Men, on the other hand, have no such hormonal fluctuations to fight. Right? Wrong!

If you’ve often wondered why your partner has mood swings for no rhyme or reason, then come meet IMS–the PMS of a man’s world.

What is IMS?
IMS or irritable male syndrome is caused by fluctuations in the male sex hormones, testosterone, and could be the reason for his unexplainable mood swings and irritability.

“The Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) can be defined as a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in men and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity,” explains Dr Sneha Kothari, endocrinologist, Global Hospital, Mumbai.

“There are many causes of IMS, but the most common cause is low testosterone, which is why IMS is also called andropause,” adds Dr Vijayant Govinda Gupta, urologist and andrologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Delhi.

What the symptoms of irritable male syndrome?
“Men can get really cranky when their testosterone levels drop. They can even have hot flashes just like women do during menopause,” explains Kothari.

Pointing out other symptoms of IMS, she adds that the crankiness could be accompanied with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, irritation, low sex drive, sexual dysfunction, loss of bone density, and muscle mass, headaches, and backache.

That’s not it. According to Dr Gupta, it can even cause problems in your marital bliss.

But why him?
Although IMS is a common occurrence in men above the age of 40 due to age-related decline in testosterone production, it can happen in younger men too. Why? Because testosterone starts dropping after a man hits his thirties.

irritable male syndrome
Your partner’s testosterone levels could be causing IMS. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But what are the triggers for IMS? Dr Kothari explains:

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1. Changes in brain the chemistry, often associated with a diet too high in protein and too low in healthy carbohydrates.

2. High level of stress can be a trigger, especially when combined with rapid hormone changes during mid-life.

3. A poor diet and lack of exercise contributing to weight gain.

4. Poor lifestyle choices like excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.

What can you do for your partner in this case?
If you were able to match the symptoms mentioned above with your partner’s behaviour, try taking these steps recommended by Dr Kothari:

Address the stress: If stress is the root cause of his problem, then you’ve got to address that first. Encourage him to indulge in stress-busting activities such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and other physical activities that he might enjoy doing.

Communicate: Talk to your partner about what’s bothering him and how you feel when he acts out. There’s nothing that good communication can’t solve, remember?

Encourage exercise: Not only can exercise keep him fit and healthy, but it can also release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can help improve his mood. A 30-40 minute workout at least five days a week can take him a long way.

Encourage healthy eating: Have healthy meals together. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and meat and avoiding sugary and high-fat foods can keep you both in a good place—both physically and mentally.

Limit his alcohol consumption: Keeping his alcohol consumption to an absolute minimum and cigarette smoking to a complete zero can make sure his testosterone levels aren’t going further down, you see.

Be patient, but don’t be scared to seek help: Ladies, you’ve got to be patient and non-judgemental in this case. However, if all the talking and patience doesn’t pay off, it’s always best to seek professional help.

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