By: Meg Grant, Age 21
In the past year or so, I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon: Men have PMS. Now before you get all tweaked out: I’m not saying that men actually get full-blown periods. But, there is scientific evidence to show that men, too, in fact operate on a monthly hormonal cycle. According to a study done by a group based in the UK, at least a quarter of men experience extreme food cravings and stomach cramps during their “periods”. Some researchers have even gone so far as to say that men basically get their periods, just without the bleeding.
Jed Diamond, author of Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome, states that men have symptoms of “hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger” during these cycles, comparing such symptoms to women’s traditional PMS. Diamond also discusses how men’s periods (what he terms Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS) can contribute to strife within the close relationships of men (especially romantic relationships) because such symptoms exhibit themselves through violence and irrational blame. He asserts that IMS is the culprit for many men’s relationship issues.
Rewind. If IMS can be used as justification for something as serious as men acting violent towards their significant others, then why can’t my PMS as a woman be used as justification for some time off due to severe cramping and migraines? That’s great that we have figured out that men have their versions of “periods”; but, why isn’t that another reason to take a hard look at how we as a society view the menstrual cycle? How is it that a process, which physiologically affects both men and women in similar fashions, can be seen so differently based on gender?
I wish that PMS would be legitimized and demystified so that people would respect women experiencing such symptoms. I am sick and tired of men in particular attributing every mood swing or state of irritability to PMS. Like maybe I’m mad because 1 in 4 women on college campuses are sexually assaulted. Or because women still make 79 cents to men’s dollar. Or because I can’t go for a run in my neighborhood and not be catcalled. There are many reasons why I might be irritable that have nothing to do with my period, just like men have reasons why they’re upset that have nothing to do with theirs. So why do we still degrade the menstrual cycle but legitimize men’s hormonal issues? Why is it okay for men to be moody, but not women?
I’m not saying that I want to medicalize PMS- that route has its own problems. PMS is a natural part of a woman’s beautiful cycle. For me, having a period and PMS means that someday I can give birth to a child and experience motherhood- which is something I am greatly looking forward to. I am, however, saying that basically everyone gets their period so can we please stop acting like it is so \ taboo? It’s a part of life. So, let’s just ‘go with the flow’.
** If you want to help women who cannot afford their own feminine necessities, please contribute to our #projectperiod campaign by donating tampons, pads, diva cups, or wipes! You can find more information in our #projectperiod tab.