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Menstrual cycle and challenges of manhood

Adeoye Oyewole 
By Adeoye Oyewole (

The challenge of manhood is enormous because it includes the ability to fulfil a career, satisfy psychosocial demands of wife, children and significant others in the family setting and, of course, contribute to the development of the community.

A man can be a successful business man or an erudite scholar, or a revered religious leader, but when it comes to satisfying the needs of women, he may be an irredeemable failure. This challenge is a consequence of the effect of hormones on the psychology of women capable of inducing fleeting, inappropriate and sometimes irrational feelings.

Paradoxically, men cannot do without women, as they make our lives go on by adding meaning, structure and motivation. Sigmund Freud had postulated that all of life activities are intended to satisfy the sexual desire - the libido - which remains latent until women excite it in the direction of a predetermined focus. When a man fails to gain understanding of this unique make-up and the impact of hormones on their psyche, he fails to creatively harness the wonderful energy and psychological resources she can give.

A major reason for this is the uterus, with a Greek root word 'hysteria,' that is closely related to mood. The uterus is a major hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals, including humans. This organ is a major target in the elaboration of hormones, as they receive command from the higher centres in the brain, with attendant physical and psychological manifestations.
The development of secondary sexual characteristics, both physical and psychological, in adolescent is possible through this mechanism. The onset of menstruation in an adolescent is a major psychosocial event beyond the physiological process. This event brings with it a new form of identity and self awareness which, if not properly managed, may have an overall negative impact that could impair later marital relationship.
With the elaboration of the physical correlates such as the enlargement of breasts and the development of basic female anatomical curves, the hormonal stimulation with concomitant adventurous behavioral manifestations constitute a great challenge to parenting that must be creatively handled.

At the onset of menstruation, there may be complaints of irregularity, pains during menstruation, and at times embarrassment if bleeding is not properly managed. Unfortunately, at this point, some mothers erroneously tell their daughters lies that they could get pregnant if a man merely touches them, which unconsciously inflames intense curiosity that can later put them into trouble.
Folks with already established menstrual patterns may have premenstrual syndrome, which is the physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms that can occur within two weeks before a woman's monthly period. Nearly all women of child-bearing age have some PMS symptoms, but women aged between late 20s and early 40s are most likely to experience PMS.

Characteristic symptoms include fluid retention, breast tenderness, mood swings, undue irritability, feelings of depression and sometimes, transient feelings of suicide. A small number of women actually find their symptoms severe enough to stop them from living their normal lives. The exact cause is unknown; but it is thought to be linked to the changing levels of hormones in the body during the menstrual cycle. There is certainly no cure for this, but the symptoms can be managed with treatments, including medications, hormones and psychotherapeutic strategies.
Usually, symptoms improve when period starts and there is cessation of PMS at menopause. However, those who cannot cope may need to be referred to mental health experts. Menopause is another experience for women whose monthly menstrual cycles end permanently, signifying the end of child-bearing years.

Technically, menopause results when the ovaries no longer release eggs and there is a decreased production of hormones. By early to mid 50s, periods may likely cease. Menopause can occur in early 30s and rarely as late as 60s. However, there is no correlation between the time of a woman's first period and her age at menopause.
In addition, age at menopause is also not influenced by race, height, number of children a woman has had or whether she took oral contraceptives for birth control. Genetic factors therefore are more responsible for the onset of menopause.

Menopause comes with associated hot flushes, sudden warm feelings, night sweats, fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, mood swings, vaginal dryness and fluctuations in sexual desires or response. However, any irregular pattern in menstrual bleeding should be noted in a diary, as such cases should be reported to the gynaecologist.
These changes have grave implications on marriage and work dynamics. Central to the management of these problems is the spouse who must proactively adjust to the changes that hormones induce in the woman to enhance their creative adjustment. This is the challenge of manhood. Human resource managers need to understand this, as they handle work schedules and absenteeism.

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