Redditor Nemo’s wife has “a pretty regular cycle,” he tells MEL. “Almost exactly 30 days.” Seven years ago, she went off birth control and had a daughter, and since then, Nemo says, he’s much more attuned to his wife’s hormones. In turn, he believes his own hormone cycle has synced up with hers.
“I’m very sensitive to the way she smells,” the 35-year-old explains. “When she was pregnant, she smelled amazing, in a way that was sexy, but also appealing outside of sex as well — just… good. Really good.”
Ever since his wife’s pregnancy, he’s noticed the way her smell changes with her cycle. And once he smells love in the air, he says, his own libido kicks in.
Such is the case with another redditor, who posted in an r/AskMenOver30 thread explaining that he feels his libido rise and fall on a monthly basis, and “anecdotally feels it is aligned” with his partner’s hormonal cycle:
“I don’t know if its hormonal or a physical reaction to subtle changes in her, I’ve noticed over the past couple yrs that for about 1 week a month, my libido is extremely high. I typically need a release anywhere between 2 to 4 times a day and am constantly thinking of it; normally it’s once or twice every couple days. I don’t know if there’s anything biological about this and my T levels are pretty normal so I’m curious.”
The men in this thread aren’t alone in thinking this is a thing. Here’s a study from 2015 suggesting men have a monthly hormone cycle — though the scientist’s results were never replicated and are widely dismissed. Actually, the science is well established that men experience hormone cycles on a 24-hour basis.
So what are these hormone-sensitive guys actually feeling — and is it really what they think it is? I talked to a few experts for their thoughts on the topic.
According to Alisa Vitti, founder of hormone health-care company FLO Living, “men create their testosterone for the day while they sleep.” It results in a spike in testosterone in the morning, which then dwindles as the day goes on — assuming there aren’t things that trigger a spike in testosterone like sexual or physical activity.
But are they really synced with their partners? Vitti says these guys aren’t imagining things. “Men and women operate on a totally different hormonal pattern,” she tells MEL. “But they do have a most synchronous time of day for emotional and physical connection: in the mid-afternoon.”
In Vitti’s book WomanCode, she writes that this is the point in the day where most women’s cortisol — or their alertness and energy — levels are highest. Men might not be at their highest testosterone levels then, but it is the point in their daily hormone cycle where estrogen peaks. “The combination actually makes men more emotionally present during sex,” she writes, “and better able to focus on a woman’s needs and satisfaction.”
So some say there is a daily time when hormones can more closely “align.” But what about the guys who swear they’re feeling very horny only once a month?
Sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt argues it might simply be a sociological response. She says biological syncing “is a stretch.” She links to “one tiny study that demonstrated (mild) fluctuations in (some of but not all) cis men’s hormones when his female partner was pregnant.”
“The monthly cycle hormone fluctuations, then, seems even less likely, and less convincing from a biological perspective,” she says.
From a sociological perspective, though, it could make sense.
“If your partner gets really aroused before their period, for instance, their enthusiasm can be arousing to you, making it seem like something is ‘syncing up,’” she tells MEL. In other words, if every third week of the month your partner is all horned up, men will naturally get horned up too, and in hindsight this might appear to be a synced-up hormone cycle — especially if you’re not considering what your partner is going through hormone-wise.
Such is the case with Nemo, who feels his wife’s libido rise with the cycle of her period. “Her libido increases leading up to her period, and lingers high during and after,” he explains. “And her friskiness, and friskiness-adjacent activities like flouncing about in low-cut tops and cracking dirty jokes, makes me, er, perk up and pay attention, as it were. After a couple years of this, it may be a bit Pavlovian at this point.”
He admits himself that this might be a sociological effect rather than biological: “I don’t know to what degree our libido cycle is ruled by hormones versus housework. We’ll go a week or two where it’s go-go-go with barely time to sleep, then we’ll be all caught up for a few days and spend the whole time screwing around, in both senses of the phrase, until things pile up again.”
Whether you believe in the biological facts or not, Vitti says, overall it’s a good thing that these guys are aware of their partner’s cyclical phases. Not only from that standpoint of the sexual health of a relationship, but if “one partner is aware of his woman’s cyclical phase,” Vitti explains, “then he can customize his approach with social, emotional and physical interaction to optimize the relationship.”
In fact, Vitti has created an app for this very subject, called the MyFLO App, which includes a feature for women to let the men in their lives “know which phase she’s in.”
She explains, “He’ll get a hormonal dossier with a list of things that she’ll find most enjoyable during that time. Sometimes she wants to stay at home and order in, and other times she needs some space. You don’t have to be psychic. You just need to know her cycle.”
And though it might sound weird to be like Nemo and so intimately knew your wife’s cycle, he says it’s helped keep the spark alive in his marriage.
“Emotionally speaking, even in a marriage, initiating intimacy is putting yourself out there, in a way. If you’ve enjoyed each other recently, it’s a lot easier to step over that line and initiate with an expectation of success,” he explains.
He adds that knowing his wife’s cycle helps break down the barriers that can pile up and lead to a dead bedroom. “If one or both have been too tired, or too irritated, or too inattentive recently, it’s a much bigger barrier, which tends to contribute to the cycle,” he says, adding that “maybe it’s hormones that provide the initial push to overcome inertia; maybe it’s something else.”
Still, Nemo confesses he and his wife wish they could be more intimate than they already are, but life gets in the way. “We wish we could be intimate more often, but the travails of parenthood interfere more often than not,” he concludes. “But for about a week every month, we’re more willing to let other things slide and prioritize that part of our relationship.”