Irritable Male Syndrome: Wherein Dudes Feel All the Feelings


Gosh, women and their messy emotions and crazy behavior while PMSing. What a womanly thing. But guess what?! Guys PMS, too. Joke’s on you, dudes, because you can also feel crazy emotions and it sucks and can we please just hug and eat ice cream together?

The actual term, Irritable Male Syndrome, was created by Dr. Gerald Lincoln in Scotland when he discovered a drop in testosterone levels in sheep after mating season. They soon became irritable, easily annoyed by sheep that walk too slow in front of them when they just need to get to the grassy field over there. The irritation caused unrest, clashes and sometimes injuries.

Obviously, I’m not saying that men and sheep are the same thing. But human IMS is also caused by a drop in testosterone levels, and it can make a man angry, grouchy, anxious, depressed or full of self-loathing. It is more common with men over 30, since testosterone tends to drop with age. Dr. Gregory Jantz has found that IMS coincides with a mid-life crisis in certain men, perhaps in some cases IMS is actually the founding case of a mid-life crisis. So next time you catch dad listening to Selena Gomez, you might know the reason why. However, just plain ol’ stress can cause IMS at any age.

There aren’t any similar physical traits of IMS to PMS. Men’s breasts don’t get sore and I’m pretty sure their ovaries don’t explode with a million daggers (it’s funny because they don’t have ovaries). However, the aggression and depression that IMS impales on men is bad enough to sometimes require hormone creams, medications and help books. If those don’t help, a man can change his diet or practice stress-relief activities.

I think that this is great. Not because I’d like for men to suffer a fraction of our monthly pain, but because I think that the “discovery” of IMS is a great gateway for us to start talking about emotions, and how moody emotions do not discriminate between the genders when they decide to paralyze someone with irrationality.

Dr. Jantz noted that a reason why men might be more aggressive while IMSing is that they feel less like men. So they overcompensate, do things that society has deemed as “manly” when perhaps, the solution to the mood swings is to accept these emotions as a natural part of our bodies. Even better: talk about these emotions. I’m not saying that they should go full-out ice cream and Ryan Gosling mode with a bunch of boyfriends, but there is really honestly nothing wrong with talking about our emotions. You feel like shit?! I feel like shit?! Great, let’s all talk about it instead of going through some weird crisis.

I’m stoked for the day when being emotional and trying to understand those emotions are no longer a “feminine” thing or a “PMS” thing, but just a human thing that everyone experiences.

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