Men have a cycle too?
Rebecca Verhofstede - Midwife & Menstrual Cycle Expert
Shocking though it may be, but yes men have a cycle too. Men do actually have a hormonal cycle but there are big differences from yours.
A man’s cycle is shorter and less intense, but they can actually experience symptoms that can mess with them too. In fact, there is even a male version of PMS called IMS (or, Irritable Man Syndrome).
In this blog post, we’ll cover:
- Do men really have hormonal cycles?
- The rhythm of the male cycle
- The male cycle and working life
- What does testosterone do for men?
- Testosterone decrease: causes and effects
- The lasting decline: the male menopause
- What can a man do about testosterone fluctuations?
Do Men Really Have Hormonal Cycles?
Yes! While women have a cycle of about 28 days on average, a man’s cycle is actually every 24 hours.
Women’s cycles have four phases (menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal) but men experience spikes and dips in hormones too, just on a shorter timeframe. And, (lucky men!) it usually doesn’t impact them at all!
What’s interesting is that some studies show that men also have a seasonal cycle. This means that at certain times of year, men produce less testosterone. The study showed that men produce the least testosterone in autumn and more in the spring.
The male cycle is controlled by testosterone while women’s cycles are all about estrogen and progesterone. For women, the hormones control the release of an egg every month whereas for men, the cycle is all about testosterone production and the variations are far less dramatic than in women.
The Rhythm of the Male Cycle 🔁
Men produce testosterone at night. The testosterone levels rise and peak in the morning around 8 o’clock. From then on, the testosterone slowly decreases reaching its lowest point between 7 and 9 o’clock in the evening. This cycle repeats every 24 hours.
All this is happening without a man noticing anything at all. This makes sense because if testosterone production had any sort of negative effect, it would disrupt their sleep cycle which is key to producing testosterone in the first place.
For us ladies, changes in hormones definitely disrupt our slumber. After ovulation and before our period, estrogen levels drop and this causes our body temperature to rise. As a result, both the length and quality of our night’s sleep is impacted. And unfortunately, this happens every single month.
The Male Cycle and Working Life
Conveniently, the rhythm of a man’s cycle is perfectly aligned with normal working life and regular day and night patterns. Men are at their best during the day because their cycle works in harmony with a 9-5 lifestyle.
This is especially useful in the morning when testosterone is at it’s highest. It helps provide energy, confidence and determination and there’s usually enough testosterone left to stay cheerful and motivated for the rest of the day.
By lunchtime, excess testosterone can help with productivity, focus and teamwork. And just when testosterone starts to wane, it doesn’t really matter because… the workday is over! Isn’t that lovely?!
And What About Women?
Our cycles don’t really seem to care about our professional lives. A female cycle is aligned with the irregular monthly moon rhythms so we don’t have the same hormonal advantage as men in the workplace!
We tend to work on a monthly cycle, not a 24 hour one.
But don’t worry, we can be just as efficient as men. We just need to understand our cycle and make the most of it rather than working against it.
If you want to learn more about it, read our post on Cycle Syncing.
But in short, the best way to do this is to keep track of your cycle and pick up extra work and activities when your energy levels are at their highest. We know, it’s easier said than done and often we can’t structure our lives this way, but understanding our own bodies is the best course of action to avoid stress and burnout.
What Does Testosterone Do for Men?
Testosterone is a super important sex hormone in men It plays a role in:
- Sex drive
- Muscle mass and strength
- Cognition and memory
You can literally watch testosterone in action in men rather predictably. For example, young men often start doing riskier things if there’s a beautiful woman nearby! This is because their testosterone levels rise in response. Those caveman instincts are still alive and well!
More testosterone can also make men more assertive and confident and some studies show that it can also make men less empathetic. Again, going back to our cavemen days, this makes sense. If a man is too compassionate, it could mean that he no longer has the will to fend for himself in the face of an attacker.
Interestingly, married men with young children often have less testosterone than unmarried, single men.
Women, of course, also have hormone fluctuations but our symptoms are both physical and mental. Often, symptoms appear just before we get our period and can be so severe that they disrupt our daily life. These symptoms are most commonly referred to as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and can range from severe mood swings, sore boobs, binge eating, cramps to acne, anxiety, headaches and bloating.
Do you suffer from PMS? Read our post here about how you can reduce your symptoms!
The Lasting Decline: The Male Menopause
For women, the menopause is well documented (though not talked about very much!). This is when estrogen levels drop by about 60% and the production of progesterone stops almost completely. Understandably, this radical shift in hormones can cause many challenges for women.
But men also have a sort of menopause. From the age of 25, testosterone levels start to slowly decrease – by about 1% per year. Men hardly notice it!
But, by about 35-40, this decrease can be quite extreme in as much as 25% of men.
A large decrease in testosterone in men can resemble menopausal symptoms in women! These symptoms include thing likes:
- Lower energy levels
- More belly fat and less muscle mass
- Lower sex drive or erectile dysfunction (like softer erections)
- More emotional reactions to things
Sorry guys… there’s nothing a man can do about this natural decline in testosterone but this change can be less severe if a man maintains a healthy lifestyle. Things like good sleep, strength training, a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight are all good steps to take.
And what is the difference with women?
Women tend to start the menopause around age 40 and you can’t really do much to fight it! Because the decrease in estrogen and progesterone happens so quickly, women will almost always experience some symptoms (compared to just 25% of men).
What Can a Man Do About Changes in Testosterone?
There are some things like gels or testosterone boosters that can be used to reduce testosterone decline, but a man should never do this without the guidance of a doctor.
Very little is known about the side effects of taking testosterone. If there was a magic pill a man could take that would automatically give him huge muscles and massive erections while also reducing depression and increasing confidence, well, it would indeed be magic. But sadly, it doesn’t work that way.
A healthy testosterone level also requires a healthy lifestyle so the best course of action is for men to stick to traditional stuff: sufficient exercise, nourishing food and minimising stress where possible – this will all help ensure more stable hormones and fewer menopausal complaints.
We hope this article has given you a better idea of exactly what the male cycle is and how it compares to the female cycle.
Do you still have questions about your cycle? Contact us, we are happy to help you!
Want more information about the male cycle? Here’s two Guud recommendations for you:
- The Testofactor, Ralph Moorman
- Homesickness for lust, Ivan Wolffers