Irritable Male Syndrome: What Sheep And Middle-Aged Men Have In Common – World Atlas


Posted: May 12, 2020 at 9:47 am

It may seem strange that sheep and middle-aged men share a pattern of behavior, but that seems to be the case with the irritable male syndrome. Irritable male syndrome (IMS) is a specific pattern of behavior that is most prominently featured in Soay sheep and some other mammals. It appears annually.

The Soay sheep are a specific breed of domestic sheep that can be found on Soay island in Scotland. The thing that the Soay sheep have in common with other mammals that share the IMS pattern of behavior is that they all breed seasonally. The irritable male syndrome usually appears at the end of the mating season.

The mating period of the Soay sheep lasts around five weeks, and it occurs near the end of each year. This would mean that it most often happens during November and December. They give birth five months after mating. The male sheep (rams) will experience a rise in their testosterone levels before and during the mating season. This means that the rise of testosterone lasts throughout the entirety of autumn. Once winter appears, their testosterone levels drop, and they stop mating.

Once the drop in testosterone levels starts to happen, the rams start being more nervous, even withdrawn. They often start to strike out irrationally. This is the irritable male syndrome in a nutshell. Once the testosterone levels drop, male mammals start exhibiting similar patterns of behavior. It was noticed in other species, such as reindeers and Indian elephants. Of course, there are theories that it occurs in middle-aged men as well.

One thing that the discovery of this syndrome shows is that male mammals are not constantly reproductively active. Previously, it was believed that males would keep the same level of sexual activity from the moment they hit sexual maturity onwards. However, we now know that it is not true. This is even more noticeable in mammals that live longer.

They experience changes in testicular activity during the duration of their lives. Then there are cases like the Soay sheep where it happens yearly. Many variables can influence testicular activity, and most of them apply to humans as well.

When it comes to irritable male syndrome and humans, it is often referred to as andropause. Author Jed Diamond popularized this concept. He describes it as a major change that happens in the lives of middle-aged men. He believes that it can impact their lives on a physical, social, interpersonal, hormonal, psychological, spiritual, and, of course, sexual level. According to Diamond, this change happens in all men, sometimes as early as the age of 50, but most often after the age of 70.

He also believes that andropause is similar to what females experience with menopause. Some also compare it to PMS. However, this has not been accepted by medical experts officially. Many medical experts believe that this condition is being given too much attention, and it becomes overdiagnosed. However, in medical terms, it is called late-onset hypogonadism.

They claim that with the large number of people being diagnosed with this condition, it only helps increase the sales of various testosterone-boosting supplements and human growth hormones. Although there are some similarities between the way sheep and humans act in this context, there are far too many variables that need to be taken into consideration when viewed medically, for these similarities to be considered significant.

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Irritable Male Syndrome: What Sheep And Middle-Aged Men Have In Common - World Atlas

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