The Tempest Online™

~ Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc. ~

Suffering My Monthly “Queeriod”

Posted by Daniel on June 15, 2011

Short Man..Shorter Fuse

I think I’m suffering from what can only be described as my “Queeriod”.

I’m bloated.

I’m bitchy.

I cry for no reason.

I’m retaining water…

…and pizza…

…and Twinkies…

…and air…and…

I have cramps (though this could be from the bangers).

I’m having migraines every couple of days.

I’ve gained weight for no reason (stop looking in my shopping cart!!!).

The idea that men experience a monthly cycle is not new. As early as the 17th century, the Italian physician Santorio Sanctorius, after carefully measuring the weight of his body, along with it’s various excretions (Santorio was nothing if not thorough), discovered a monthly cycle in body weight of approximately two pounds. He noted that the peak of the cycle was accompanied by feelings of heaviness and lassitude.

In later centuries there were various attempts to establish the existence of a male cycle. The late decades of the 19th century were a particularly fruitful period for some reason, with a number of authors (Gall, Stephenson and Campbell, if you must know) finding evidence for monthly fluctuations in mood, energy and sex drive. Later in 1929, a study found that men have emotional cycles of about one-month to six-weeks in length (as a friend of mine had suggested). During the low period of the cycle, men were reported to feel apathetic and indifferent. During the high period they reported more energy, a greater sense of well-being, and lower body weight. Hmmm. This explains my reaction to Dorito’s as well, I think.

It is probably not coincidental that all these symptoms have been associated with serum levels of testosterone. During periods of low serum testosterone men report feeling apathetic and indifferent. During periods of high serum testosterone they report more energy, a greater sense of well-being, and lower body weight. In fact a whole market in testosterone supplements has emerged to service aging men whose levels of serum testosterone have fallen.

But the experts who weigh ponderously on such matters say that a monthly hormonal cycle in men has not been established. Part of the reason has been the lamentably thin body of research devoted to the topic (I couldn’t find a single modern study). But it’s also a function of testosterone itself. Testosterone levels are notoriously difficult to calibrate because they’re often dependent on one’s psychological state, which in turn is largely a function of circumstance. Leaders of every kind (tribal, political, business) have higher relative levels of serum testosterone. Levels drop sharply in men who lose there jobs or watch their teams lose. And that’s not just in men. Women in high level corporate positions have higher levels of testosterone than their sisters in less driven professions.

Given the sensitivity of testosterone to life’s ups and downs, it’s easy to see how a discernable and very real cyclical pattern might get lost in the background noise. Perhaps the best evidence available to us is anecdotal. I know that I go through periods of high energy, high sex drive and periods of the opposite. I’m familiar enough with these cycles to know that any particular state will not last. While I can’t say with any confidence that these cycles revolve in a regular pattern, I can safely predict that if I’m feeling crappy on Monday, I’ll be feeling better by the weekend. Whether that constitutes a “Male Period” I can’t say. All I know for certain is that if science ever establishes its non-existence, I’ll never be able to use it as an excuse for bad behavior.

Then I’ll just move on the excuse of “Manapause”.

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