Weepy, Grouchy, Depressed: Irritable Male Syndrome Is Just Like PMS

Pass the ice cream -- guys have their own hormonal problems to deal with

My husband always knows when I’m getting my period -- even before I do. I complain about being hot, I rage when there’s no chocolate in the cupboards, and sometimes (fine, all the time) I cry over something dumb, like a toilet paper commercial.

Usually, it annoys me that my PMS-y behavior contributes to the stereotypes of women and our crazy hormones. But in the Best News Ever Department, scientists say it’s not just a wacky female thing. Dudes get grumpy and nutty, too, when their testosterone goes awry. For them it's called IMS -- Irritable Male Syndrome.  (Is that like Irritable Bowel Syndrome?)

When do guys go through this cantankerous time? Any time after 30, when their testosterone levels start to slide. Call it male menopause (maybe a mid-life crisis?). Though they don’t get hot flashes, IMS-addled bros may suffer from crying jags, exhaustion, a flagging sex drive, and a strong urge to buy a red sports car. The psychological toll makes them overcompensate: They rebel, pick fights and pick up 22-year-old strippers as they desperately cling to feelings of masculinity.

The scientist who coined this marvelous term, Dr. Gerard Lincoln, initially observed this change in male sheep. Come wintertime, when testosterone levels fell, the animals’ mood tanked along with it. They became irritable, depressed, disinterested in sex and easily annoyed. Like humans experiencing sidewalk rage, male rams would get all up in arms (or hooves, if you prefer) if another animal dared walk too slowly in front of him. Brawls ensued. Injuries occurred. The pastoral fields were filled with strife. Lincoln soon realized this irrational lashing out and general churlishness was not limited to sheep. Other male species went through this during the mating off-season. (Maybe guys just need to get laid more!)

Though males of the human sort usually experience IMS in mid-life, they can also go through less perceptible mood swings any time in their life if it’s an especially stressful time. It can make them both cry and laugh more easily. Aww...

So the next time you’re weeping into your Ben & Jerry’s over the unjustness of the world -- read, Sean Lowe being booted from Dancing With the Stars -- pull out an extra spoon and invite your beau to scoot in beside you. He could probably use a good cry and a batch of Chocolate Therapy, too.

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