Move over PMS, IMS may crush your bad reputation. If the men around you or, for the guys reading this – you – are acting like a frustrated 12-year-old, it may be more than an occasional bad mood.

Similar to PMS, Irritable Male Syndrome is a term used to refer to various degrees of hypersensitivity, feelings of withdrawal, sadness, anxiety and frustration, and being unenthusiastic or uninterested in what’s going on around you. The syndrome is about more than buying a sports car or punching a wall; it can have very negative mental and physical effects on the men who suffer from it, their partners, children and colleagues.

Talking with Clients about IMS

When I talk with female patients, colleagues and friends about IMS, every woman instantly diagnoses a man in their life with the condition. Of course, when I share with male patients and friends, the reaction is often, “Who me? Never!”  However, ultimately everyone says, “OK, tell me more because I am seeing or experiencing this…”

Just as women go through hormonal changes; men are affected too by drops in testosterone levels. Years ago, “andropause” was the first glimpse at what we are now calling IMS. Today, men are more susceptible to suffering from IMS due to:

More physical stress on the body from toxins in the environment. Endocrine disruptors can have many negative effects on your health. The disruptors include drugs, pesticides, compounds used in the plastic industry and in consumer products, and even some naturally-produced botanical chemicals. Health effects attributed to endocrine disrupting compounds include reproductive problems (reduced fertility, male and female reproductive tract abnormalities, and skewed male/female sex ratios); changes in hormone levels; and various cancers.

Emotional and mental stress. Stress-related mood swings can include anger, tenseness, sarcasm, hostility and defensiveness and “acting-out” symptoms such as drug use, gambling, womanizing and workaholism. A recent study on stress found:

• 46 percent of the men surveyed stated they felt often or almost always stressed

• 40 percent claim they are rarely sexually satisfied

• 55 percent stated they had a strong fear of failure

• 62 percent expressed a desire to “get away from it all.  Source:

And, the World Health Organization states that by 2020, the top ten diseases will show a direct link to stress.

Stress influences cortisol. In turn, cortisol creates inflammation in the body, which can make people susceptible to inflammatory conditions like arthritis and heart disease. Cortisol also blocks immune function, creating susceptibility to infections and prolonged healing time.

Even more, when hormones are blocked, the risk increases for osteoporosis, memory loss, mood changes, muscle loss and fat gain. Fat gain is a risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.Cortisol also blocks sex hormone receptors. As you see, nothing is in isolation – there is a ripple effect throughout the body from stress.

Treating IMS

IMS can put a strain on all relationships as others in the household may find the person distant, aloof, irritable and mean. As tough as IMS can be to deal with, it is treatable.

First off, I recommend decreasing stress by decreasing cortisol. To do so: exercise, meditate, receive massages regularly, supplement with liquid B12.

While decreasing cortisol, it’s important to raise testosterone levels to combat IMS. To do so: lift weights, supplement with prescription testosterone (cream, gel, patch or pill delivery) as well as assorted natural supplements.

Not sure if your testosterone and cortisol levels are level? Check them through saliva hormone testing and serum tests. Saliva hormone kits are very simple to use, painless and convenient. They can be done at home and without any needle punctures.

If IMS is persistent, I recommend seeing a doctor for hormone testing. Integrative medicine doctors and naturopaths deal with these issues on a daily basis.

A Quiz to Help your Clients

Concerned about a client? Here’s a brief quiz you can offer them from

QUIZ: Is Your Relationship Being Undermined by IMS?

• He flares up quickly

• He is easily annoyed, becomes grumpy, or impatient

• He has trouble controlling his temper

• He drinks or uses other substances to relieve stress

• He feels empty or “burned out”

• He feels that people continue to disappoint him

• He feels emotionally numb and closed down

• Your sexual relationship is less enjoyable and your desire for each other is decreasing

• Even though you love each other, you don’t feel “in love” in the way you would like to be.

If you answer “yes” to 5 or more of these statements, it is likely that your relationship needs help.


This article was featured in Spa Canada Magazine and written by Dr. Kathryn Dundas

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