Saturday, March 01, 2003

Does your Man have the Blahs?

Does your Man have the Blahs?
What you should know about irritable male syndrome
Content edited by Pamela Appea for KPTM-Fox 42’s Website
Posted March 2003

Are you suffering from irritability, depression, and bloating caused by hormones? Think we’re describing PMS? Nope.

These symptoms also describe a condition that may affect millions of men.

A few years ago, Michael and Connie Hillegrass hit a snag in their marriage. Something was different about Michael, like a switch had been turned off.

“There was no lust, no desire,” said Michael Hillegrass.

Scott Simmons also noticed changes when he hit the middle age years.

“[I was] tired, lethargic. I didn’t have a zest for work anymore and I started gaining weight,” recalled Simmons.

Both men went for professional help. The diagnosis? IMS or Irritable Male Syndrome.

Dr. Christopher Steidle, a urologist, treated Scott.

“IMS is incredibly common, up to 30 percent of men. This is a male version of PMS or premenstrual syndrome,” Steidle said.

When a man’s testosterone level dips, it can result in depression, weight gain, or loss of energy and a diminished sex drive in men as young as 30. Many of the symptoms are indistinguishable from old age, and for years many have thought the problem was just grumpy old man syndrome. Now we know the grumpy old man probably has IMS.

When the affection disappears, depression appears. It can be confusing for the woman behind the man.

Connie Hillegrass blamed herself. “Is he interested in someone else? What’s going on? There’s got to be a reason,” Hillegrass remembered.

The impact of IMS on family is incredible. However, while the effect on men is clear, the cause is not. Some experts believe that IMS could be caused by diet. Other experts argue that the role of diet in triggering this syndrome is minimal.

But Dr. Larrian Gillespie disagrees. Gillespie, a veteran urologist, believes two things trigger IMS.

“Under the circumstances of stress and then particular dietary changes, men exhibit these symptoms of male syndrome, much like women do with PMS,” said Gillespie.

She believes men can fight back by eating right. Gillespie’s book, “The Gladiator Diet,” looks at what “he-men of olde” used to eat before battle.

“People can’t get a chariot through a drive-in, so there wasn’t fast food,” quipped Gillespie.

“Fats and carbs block the body’s ability to use testosterone,” Gillespie added.

Proteins and unprocessed fats can help. “Consuming a diet of around 300-350 calories about five times a day will keep testosterone and insulin levels smooth,” Gillespie said.

Physicians like Dr. Stiedle can diagnose IMS by asking a few questions. Still, the condition carries a stigma with most men.

“I think men should come out of their shells. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” Steidle said.

Scott Simmmons found dramatic improvements thanks to hormone therapy.

“My belly went away!” Simmons added, “I’m more interested in just getting out and doing things.”

And it wasn’t just Scott who noticed positive results after he received the hormone therapy treatment.

“It’s like, wow, yes, this is a different guy, ya know? A whole different personality,” said Hillegass.

Patients say there’s no reason for anyone to go through life unhappy. Men should know there is help. Another reason not to ignore the problem? Irritable male syndrome is also linked with osteoporosis and weakened or fragile bones.