I recently watched a webinar by Dr Taryn Jacobs from CHE Online, the Centre for Homeopathic Education based in the UK. The webinar was titled The Wisdom of the Female Hormonal System and was eye opening in many ways.
The Female Hormone cycle is an ancient, natural and sacred cycle. There has been a modern belief that some parts of the female cycle are dysfunctional and not ideal, whereas Taryn talked about the natural and medicinal aspects of the cycle.
Taryn even refers to the cycle as monthly medicine, with a woman moving through all the different parts of herself both physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
In ancient and traditional cultures women menstruated together and the cycle was a part of the culture that women moved through together. In modern culture however, women are by themselves and not able to put aside the responsibilities to follow this pattern. This may cause unconscious resentment, anger and frustration because the deep and ancient pulses cannot be followed in our modern world.
Every two and a half days there is a change in hormonal profile, biology, nervous system and in everything including voice, face and scent. Change is aligned with lunar, season and day night rhythms, and is as powerful as the tides.
Women are magnetic – studies have shown that during her fertile phase women are more attractive to men and women – both sexually and in a preference for listening, smelling and looking at them, and also more magnetic compared to oral contraceptive users.
Problems arise when the internal calendar does not fit with modern demands. When there is a mismatch of activities with the time of the month there can be both physical and mental or emotional effects, including a belief that she is wrong and broken or dysfunctional, and that something is wrong with her.
But society is wrong, Women should not be expected to be the same person every day.
The Menstrual cycle will set limits on the body, just as a day/night cycle and the need for sleep, and the cycle will impose boundaries around what is needed for health.
There is a cultural bias these days towards the first part of the cycle, where women are energised, magnetic and dutiful, and less of an understanding of the part of the cycle where they look at unspoken truths and inner healing.
The cycle is not just hormonal, but physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual, and there is a continuation past menopause, although it is no longer tied to menstruation.
The follicular phase, from Menstruation to Ovulation is when Oestrogen is high and is a time of energy and relationships, social and interested in the world, driven, productive and achieving, with energy for getting out there, and for more energetic forms of exercise. Some key words for the high oestrogen follicular phase are active, growing, creating, focused and driven.
On the other hand the Luteal phase, from ovulation to menstruation has Progesterone levels high, and is about connecting with the self, awareness, insight and intuition. This is a time to look inwards, for comfort and more reflective exercise practices like yoga or Pilates. Progesterone slows things down, stops the frenzied energy and has a balancing effect on the nervous system. This means quiet, reflection and stillness.
When the balance is right, it allows women to reach their fullest potential. The boundaries give space to reflect, time to grow in knowledge and wisdom with every cycle.
The follicular phase is more Yang and sun energy, the first half like the spring, then moving into summer – lots of energy and growth. After ovulation, there is more Yin or moon energy, like autumn and winter when things cool down, become a time for dormancy, for leaves to decompose so that there is the ability for growth in the next cycle. Like the seasons, every part of a woman’s cycle is a natural and important part of the cycle of life.
Some of our modern problems come when as women we are ignoring our own natural rhythm, and trying to live in the Follicular phase when we need to be honouring the Luteal part of our cycle. The Follicular phase is about everyone else, connected to everyone, driven and achieving. The Luteal phase though turns us to see the parts of ourselves that we may not want to show the rest of the world. This is the time when the demands of the world are at odds with the need to prioritise ourselves – while we may not be able to fix this, but acknowledging that this is happening and not fighting ourselves, or hating this shadow, it helps travel through the cycle, and when coming to menopause to transition to the next phase of life.
Taryn commented that these days as many as 50% of women over 35 have oestrogen dominance. This could be from too much oestrogen or not enough progesterone, but either way means there is too much of the “doing” hormone and not enough of the “resting” hormone.
Symptoms can be PMS, mood swings, dysmenorrhea, cysts, fibroids, PCOS, thyroid dysfunction, sore tender breasts, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, weight gain especially centrally, bloating or water. All of these symptoms are exacerbated by fighting against the natural cycle and not honouring the time women need to rest and reflect.
Taryn suggests charting the menstrual cycle, and then using that to help plan life where you can. Parties, presentations and even trying on new clothes are ideal during the Follicular phase when you have more energy and are expressive and driven. During the Luteal phase you can be more critical of yourself and others, as it is a time to pause and reflect. It is a great time to look at your commitments and make decisions about what you can and can’t do (you won’t over schedule to burn out like you might during the Follicular phase) and to do more gentle and reflective exercise practices like yoga or Pilates- none of the aerobics or high fitness from earlier in the cycle!
This webinar gave me a new perspective on the hormone cycle and in particular “pre menstrual syndrome”, that it is not a disease, but a cry for help and for women to stop, listen and reflect. It has certainly already made me reflect on my practice and how I will support women with their menstrual cycle, and given me a thirst for more knowledge around this area.
If you would like to learn more one resource Taryn suggested was Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr Christiane Northrup. I have bought it for myself, and now just need the time (maybe in my Luteal phase) to slow down and read it.
Picture credit: Bianca Van Dijk from Pixabay.