Irritable Male Syndrome

photoIrritable Male Syndrome or becoming a Grumpy

Although the book How Not to Murder Your Grumpy is a light-hearted take on this subject,  and is intended to raise awareness of this syndrome, men really can go through a period of time that some refer to as the male menopause (or ‘Irritable Make Syndrome’). Obviously, it is not like the female menopause in as much as men don’t experience the array of symptoms that women do. They seem to suffer mostly from a form of depression brought on by a variety of factors,. This, in turn, can lead to sleepless nights, feeling downhearted and other associated symptoms.

The female menopause starts on average about fifty-two years of age and can last ten years. However, there is no definite time for men to begin to feel grumpy. Indeed many men in their thirties say they are already beginning to feel grumpy, while others claim the closer they got to retirement or recognising they are mortal and life is short and getting shorter by the day, played a significant part in their change of mood.

There are many factors that contribute to men becoming grumpy. Some are physical symptoms that men experience when a drop in testosterone levels occur. Others are a combination of factors, including a feeling of being ‘thrown on the scrapheap’ as they approach old age and retirement. For some, ending their working life is a huge concern. They lose with it their raison d’être and can only peer into a bleak abyss of lonely retirement. Even the thought of throwing out all those work clothes that identified him as a man with a purpose can be daunting for a man. The prospect of a future that includes doing household DIY chores, possibly a couple of hobbies while getting old and frail is frightening. Men generally direct their frustration and anger towards others or situations that irritate them rather than deal with such personal issues. Hence rants about pot holes or the youth of today or the wretched weather.

Women often go through menopause at a time when children are leaving home and experience a feeling of empty nest syndrome. This seems to magnify the symptoms of menopause and adds to the feeling of worthlessness. Men too, can also experience this. They may feel their time as a father and supporter, important figure is over. They have lost an important part of their identity. Add to that obvious physical changes as they get older and you have more ingredients to make you grumpy.

Another important factor is that unlike women, men are less likely to go to their doctor about physical or mental health problems and don’t have a supportive male network who can communicate, swap stories or sympathise with each other. One can hardly imaging three men in a coffee shop discussing the best nasal hair trimmer to deal with the abundance of ear and nasal hair they are now controlling, or a man asking a doctor why he is feeling ‘low’.

Much like men need to be patient while we women go through emotional ups and downs during menopause, we need to comprehend why they are becoming miserable and fed up. There are many articles on this subject and I urge you to read them. It may help you understand why your partner is becoming grumpy and may help them recognise that they’re not alone.

I have written several articles for wellbeing magazines on this topic and been interviewed many times. All my responses came from a great deal of research and dealings with doctors, surgeons, psychiatrists and men from countries all over the world, willing to discuss their grumpiness. Here are a few:


“Get off my lawn!” Why Some Older Men Get So Grouchy taken from my interview for NBC with Bill Briggs


Donald Trump, 66, shows his grumpy stripes in frequent Twitter outbursts.

The look: A scowling face, a wagging finger, and a shaking head. The targets: The economy. Teenagers. Windmills.

Some informally dub it “grumpy old man complex.” British author Carol Wyer labels it “irritable male syndrome,” a spike in the outward crankiness of guys of a certain age.

As more baby boomers hit 60 — the age when male grumpiness seems to kick in — be ready for a growing chorus of grouchy flare-ups, like a Donald Trumprant set to explode.

The condition isn’t just a stereotype represented by the proverbial fist-waving shout, “Get off my lawn!”Testosterone levels generally fall as men age, according to the Mayo Clinic. Such hormone drops are known to dampen male moods, says Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, head of the International Society of Men’s Health and a urologist in New York City.

“Testosterone is a hormone that grows muscles, reduces fat in the body, affects energy, and improves sexual desire,” Shabsigh says. “However, it also has neural-psycho effects. And in some men we encounter in our practice, those affects can be mostly visible: low mood and irritability.”

Read more of this article HERE.


Grumpy Old Male Menopause by Carol E. Wyer for Women’s Health Magazine.

An article in Cosmopolitan, Do Guys Have Periods? caught my eye this weekend. Well, of course men don’t experience periods the same way that women do, but I read, with interest, that some men certainly become moody. The article suggested that this happens not on a monthly basis, but can occur at any time, and it is often referred to as ‘Irritable Male Syndrome.’

I read on because this supported my theory that not only do men suffer moody IRS spells when they are younger, but as they become older, they go through a menopause, slightly similar to a woman’s menopause, but with fewer obvious symptoms.

The male menopause has been much debated and at last is becoming more recognised by the medical profession. Just like the mood swings women experience thanks to changing hormone levels, a significant drop in testosterone levels can turn your man into a miserable grump for no apparent reason. Cosmopolitan suggests that the drop in testosterone levels experienced by young men, can be put down to a variety of factors including stress or a change in diet. I would further suggest that the male menopause along with its more obvious symptoms of grumpiness, depression and anger is also down to this, anxiety over ageing, worries about retiring and generally malcontent at being older.

I live with one such man. He wasn’t too difficult to live with when he was younger. I put his grouchy moods down to work pressures since he ran a successful business that was demanding. What came to light in more recent years, was a more significant change in his demeanour as he approached sixty and retirement.

Unlike the man of a few years ago, he now goes through regular periods of low esteem and morale. He has days when he can’t be bothered about anything, and days when he wakes up depressed for no good reason. He is bad tempered, unapproachable and difficult to live with at times. He grumbles incessantly about everything form pot holes to television programmes. Other times he is completely normal, amusing even. He exhibits a similar behaviour to my mother when she went through the menopause. Talking to other females of my age we discovered our men all acted similarly. No surprises that they were all men who had been successful at work and now were at home. Each women echoed my own findings. There was no doubt in our minds that our moody men were going through some sort of ‘change’.

Research on the subject led me to Jed Diamond, a leading expert in the field of ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’. He spent thirty-five years researching the subject and gathered responses from nearly 10,000 males on this subject. His best-selling books The Male Menopause and Irritable Male Syndrome deal with reasons why millions of men are becoming angry and depressed and why they so often vent their frustrations on the women they love the most.

I became convinced that my grumpy old man was, in fact, going through a male menopause, where moods are erratic and grumpiness abounds. What could I do to help, other than be supportive? As Cosmo suggests “Cut him some slack”. I cut him plenty. I let him complain and grumble and be completely unreasonable. I also developed a strategy to keep him occupied and ensured he had a dose of humour each day. Every day, I would throw in jokes or funny stories I had picked up. It paid off.

It is an uphill struggle some days. Having discussed what is happening to him has helped in some small way, although he remains sceptical and refuses to seek medical help. Being cheerful and supportive also assists, even if you do feel like hitting him over the head some days with a Le Creuset saucepan.

There is no easy answer to it, however, leaving your curmudgeon to grump about when he wants to be left alone will help, as will a variety of activities and challenges that will help him feel more youthful and useful.

More recently still, I have been asked on numerous occasions if young men are Grumpy old Men in waiting. If Cosmopolitan is right and men are experiencing IMS in their thirties, then there is every likelihood they will become full-blown Victor Meldrew-a-likes by the time they are facing sixty. You should be ready to accept this inevitability. Be prepared ladies. Remember a Grumpy is for life, not just for Christmas.
Read more: Do Guys Have Periods – Irritable Male Syndrome – Cosmopolitan


Find out ways to keep your Grumpy Old Man occupied: Huffington Post


Have a laugh and discover new hobbies, activities and challenges for your Grumpy: How Not to Murder Your Grumpy


Jed Diamond is an expert in this field and has written extensively on the subject. He has also endorsed How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and reviewed it. You can read the five star review on the How Not to Murder Your Grumpy Page. His website is full of helpful information. You can access it by clicking the link: The Irritable Male Syndrome

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Could you be suffering from Irritable Male Syndrome? Take the Irritable Male quiz and find out. Click HERE

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16 thoughts on “Irritable Male Syndrome”

  1. Angry

  2. Why? I’m not being rude and I have only posted facts based on experts advice and talking to men and women.

  3. Brava! So much has been said about female menopause, but not men’s changes and aging emotional problems!

    Thank you.

  4. Brava! to you, Carole. This was spot on.

    So much has been said about female menopause. Men are important too! Everything we can do to make them laugh, encourage them, and every opportunity to tell them how amazing and gorgeous they are helps.

    Aging is difficult for men too. Society (favoring younger men in the workforce, and socializing) & feeling uncomfortable in their own older skin must be painful.

    Does hormone (testosterone) therapy help? This is the question. I would like to know.

    Thank you for your article.

  5. Thank you so much for your kind words. Apologes for the delay in responding but I have had internet problems resulting in no internet whatsoever. Finally, I am back online. I’m not sure about hormone therapy for men (getting themn to a doctor is difficult at the best of times) although I happen to know that the inventor of LadyCare magnet which has had huge success in the UK and US originally invented it for men to help with prostrate problems. If you need any more info on it I’ll be happy to email it to you.

  6. Thanks, this is really helpful!

  7. sabrina wilson said:

    Thanks for painting a picture in my mind my husbend ia in his early 30 and is already moody and grumpy at times but I have been learning to focus more on what make me happy . But it sure can kindof drive a wedge between your relationship . GOD PLEASE HELP OUR MEN

  8. Just be patient! We all can be moody and grumpy. You might need a few hobbies for him to keep him out of yoyr hair though 😉

  9. maria bergman said:

    Notice in many of these articles about male irritability, it’s made into a cute explanation about ‘grumpiness’. And god forbid any mention of hormonal causes. That needs to be glossed over as well.The world talks about PMS and Menopause and women carry that around their entire life. Any visible emotions and a woman is confronted with her ’emotional instability’. Testosterone is a big problem in this world and it needs to be examined and regulated. It has caused death, war, and aggression for millennia but because of male dominance, it’s never addressed. It’s time for this issue to be out in the open. To all women: stop making excuses for the aggressive, irritable male in your life, and in the world.

  10. Hi Maria, thank you for your comment. I agree that testosterone is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but you will appreciate this site tries to educate through humour. I have written more detailed articles for magazines and spoken at length on radio shows about how levels of testosterone affect men and women.

  11. Maria is certainly correct about the role of testosterone in a man’s moods, although her rant was a bit emotional 😉
    I’m a thirty-something who essentially hit manopause early due to the unfortunate loss of my testicles. I can confirm that after my monthly testosterone replacement injection I feel a whole better than at the end of that month. To say that I’m moody and irritable is understatement. My poor suffering better half is more understanding than, I guess, most men are about PMS. Just my $0.02. Cheer up Maria! Keep the humour coming, Carole – it’s always welcome! 🙂

  12. Really helpful, thank you. Since he retired my husband seems to be nothing like the kind, caring man I married 33 years ago. This has helped me understand why and what to do about it. I may have to re read t regularly for support!

  13. It can be a hugely frustrating experience but stick at it. My ild grumpy is a lot less grumpy now he understands what make shim feel so down.

  14. It’s so refreshing to hear from a man who’s gone/going through this and has manged to maintain a sense of humour! It’s tough going, especially when there isn’t enough support from people. I’m glad your other half is understanding. We all age differently and we all need support from time to time. Thanks for commenting.
    PS So sorry this response has only just become visible. I somehow managed to archive it!

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