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Irritable male syndrome

This term was coined by Gerald Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, and came to public notice in Britain in early March. Presumably he, or the MRC’s press officer, coined it on the analogy of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr Lincoln claims that men of any age who suffer stress can experience sudden drops in testosterone level, making them bad-tempered, nervous, or easily reduced to tears. One suggestion is that testosterone replacement therapy may restore men to their usual state (whatever that is). The idea has received what one may describe as a mixed reception, with comment from the female of the species being particularly acerbic.

If irritable male syndrome does affect men, diagnosing it won’t be easy. It’s far from clear what normal testosterone levels are, while extra doses of the hormone may increase the risk of heart disease.

New Scientist, Mar. 2002

Q: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable? A: Normal. Q: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome? A: You ask him to pass the salt and he yells: “Take, take, take — that’s all you ever do!”

Daily Mirror, Mar. 2002

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 11 May 2002

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Last modified: 11 May 2002.