Ever heard of irritable male syndrome or andropause? They’re not a joke, and it’s not uncommon for wives and partners to be the first to notice them.
Men are as hormonal as you
You’ve believed it for ages, and you’re right. Your irritable partner has major hormonal fluctuations that affect his mood.
While estrogen is your big mood stabilizer, it’s testosterone for the guys in your life.
And you need to know, testosterone feels good. It makes a guy feel strong and powerful. When he loses it, he feels weak and out-of-control. It’s just biological.
What makes a guy lose testosterone?
Does he feel successful?
Your man’s competitiveness isn’t him just being an ass. He’s biologically wired to seek out a testosterone boost from winning. Neuroscientist Alex Korb writes about how gorillas will fight each other to determine who gets to be the alpha male. One wins and immediately gets a testosterone boost. He states,
“Interestingly, the alpha male doesn’t get to be alpha because he has the most testosterone, but vice-versa. He gets the most testosterone because he proves himself to be alpha male by winning fights.”
Most guys know the feeling of a testosterone drop after a big loss, whether the loss of a relationship or a job. It’s a bad feeling. And most guys respond by trying to assert their dominance somewhere else. Sports are a great place for this. Your relationship not so much.
Natural male hormonal cycling
Even if everything is going great in life, men are going to have natural (and predictable) ups and downs in their hormones.
- Time of day – A man’s testosterone levels are highest in the morning and decrease throughout the day.
- Time of month – Yes, it’s not just you with a monthly hormone cycle. When a man’s hormones go through its monthly oscillation (sometimes called the “man period”), he may feel out-of-balance.
- Time of year – Testosterone levels tend to be higher around November and lowest around April. Need more proof? August has the highest birth rate. You do the math.
- Age – Andropause (or male menopause) occurs between the ages of 40 and 55. This is when a guy’s testosterone levels decrease. For some men, this feels pretty rough.
Those extra pounds can spur irritable male syndrome
If he’s been putting on weight, his testosterone levels are probably dropping. Fat cells convert testosterone into estrogen. When a man’s body fat is in healthy ranges, that’s a good thing. He needs small amounts of estrogen for many of the same reasons you do: strong bones, libido, etc. Too much estrogen and too little testosterone, however, isn’t good. The more weight he puts on, the more testosterone gets turned into estrogen.
What does low testosterone look like?
When a man’s testosterone levels drop, he may:
- act irritably
- feel depressed
- experience low libido
If you’re living with him, he might be driving you crazy.
Or, “Irritable Male Syndrome”
Does your husband get in a funk that he just can’t get out of? Is he increasingly grumpy, moody, and short-tempered?
Researcher Jed Diamond defines irritable male syndrome (IMS) as, “a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.”
If you’re concerned about your spouse or partner, talk to him. I’d love to help him work toward his best health.