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Menstrual cycle

Updated: Feb 1

We, as human beings, are part of nature and what connects us all is an inevitability in the face of cyclicality. The birth, growing, peak, falling, and death are elements of a repeatable cycle of life that is written in the law of nature. It is a rhythm of our planet. Every time you inhale the air into your lungs, the birth of the breath happens, you take more and more air until your lungs are full, then you exhale until there is no air anymore. The breath is dead to give birth to a new one. That is one of the infinite amounts of examples that cyclicality is inevitable to keep us and every other species on earth alive.


The day and night cycle keep our circadian rhythm in check and help our bodies to know when it’s time for being awake and when we should rest to charge batteries for the next day. Seasons of the year, the cycle of the moon and planets, the menstrual cycle - it is all about the constant dance of life and death, the law of nature.


Those days, it is hard to live in accordance with this law because we, as the human species, became disconnected from Mother Nature. We became more focused on cultivating productivity and economic growth than on taking care of our beautiful planet. Our only home. The consequences of this are tragic but I am not going to focus on it now. The topic I want to introduce you to is the gift that is an imprint of Mother Nature in a woman’s body, a sign that somehow, we are still connected with our planet. That gift is the menstrual woman cycle.


The words “female” and "woman" are used throughout this post to refer to people who identify as female and have typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female.


It is written in our nature to intensely feel the cyclicality through monthly contact with the diversity of our physiology and emotional states. So let’s dive a bit into physiology first. The cycle of each woman is different and very individual but what is common to most of us is that this cycle has always 2 phases - follicular and luteal. The time of ovulation and bleeding should also be mentioned.


The follicular phase


It starts with the first day of bleeding which usually lasts about 3–5 days. Most of the hormones are on a low and stable level but you can still feel symptoms of PMS and uterine contractions can cause discomfort.


After the bleeding body starts to produce more estrogen hormones. The uterine lining grows and becomes thick. It becomes rich in nutrients to prepare for a possible pregnancy.


A high level of estrogen usually makes us look more attractive and feel happier. You may notice that your skin or hair looks better during this and your breast is growing a bit. This hormone helps in the production of serotonin which is a mood-balancing brain chemical that improves our mood. All this is conditioned by evolution. Our body knows that this is the best time to find a partner to fertilize.


Another important hormone that is released at this time is testosterone, which is mistakenly considered to be only a male hormone. There are many women who have a higher testosterone level than many men. This hormone gives us more energy and vitality.



Ovulation


Appears in the middle of the menstrual cycle, usually around the 14th day, counting from the first day of your period. Ovulation is a moment of estrogen peak. It is a good time for intellectual activities and to be social.


Libido level increases and the chance for get pregnant is the highest. The egg is released from the ovary and can be fertilized by sperm.


If fertilized, the egg is traveling to the uterus where the pregnancy can start to develop. When unfertilized, the egg disintegrates so the uterine lining is preparing to be shed during the bleeding phase of the cycle.


This is quite an interesting moment of the cycle because you may feel very energetic, horny, and ready for action but at the same time, you may feel there is a lot going on inside your body and it can be simply exhausting. It is important to understand how this time is for you and find your own way to make it comfortable.


Luteal phase


This is the time after ovulation that lasts until the first day of the bleeding. Now your body is preparing for a potential pregnancy.


Estrogen levels drop but the progesterone increases. This hormone is responsible for keeping the body strong and healthy for a new baby. If the woman gets pregnant she needs to have a strong immune system and that is why the temperature level usually increases during the luteal phase.


If a woman won’t get pregnant, the uterine lining slowly starts to shed and leads to menstrual bleeding.


Energy and libido level drops. This time, especially when it is closer to the period may be difficult. PMS symptoms might appear and the intensity of how disturbing it is usually depends on lifestyle and level of stress. A woman can become more anxious, very emotional, or even depressed.


It is a hard time so I believe it is important to give yourself lots of love and care. It can be a moment of deep insight into your inner worlds, the awakening of strong feelings and intuition.







The symbolic interpretation of the menstrual cycle



I like to compare these phases of the menstrual cycle to years' seasons. The follicular phase is like spring, a new beginning, the fresh and vital energy that appears and makes us feel ready for whatever is coming. Ovulation is a peak of possibilities and strength, like a beautiful summer day. Then the autumn is coming and lowers the mood. All I want at this time is to hind under the blanket with a good tea and books. And the last one is cold winter, a moment of death that is necessary to start up a new cycle.


You can also see the menstrual cycle as a metaphor for the stages in a woman’s life that is born, starts life, and become a small girl. It is a time of vitality and innocence like the follicular phase. Then a girl starts to grow, become a teenager, then a young woman, who finally jumps into her time of reproduction which is ovulation. Regardless of whether a woman decides to maternity or not, the next stage of her life is perimenopause, which may be a challenging time like the luteal phase with its PMS. After menopause, when a woman does not have her period anymore, the aging time begins. It is the last stage on an axis of femininity like the period is the last moment of the menstrual cycle.


From my observation, most of us have feelings of aversion and dislike when it comes to the parts of the cycles that reflect elements of falling and death. It is hard sometimes to find yourself in the dark, heavy energy of autumn or feel happy during pre-menstrual tension or when youth is already behind. But if we are open to that uncomfortable gloom and all the feelings that come with it, I guarantee that the magic will happen eventually. In nature, everything is how is supposed to be. It is our personal attitudes and beliefs that split something into good or bad.


For each part of the menstrual cycle, I adjusted the dominant energy of the woman archetype.


Archetypes are universal patterns of behavior, characters, events, and ways of thinking that live in a sphere of the collective unconscious. They exist in every one of us and penetrate all areas of the psyche. However, they stay elusive and intangible. But myths and fairytales are symbolic representations of archetypes that can help us to catch them on a level of imagination. Contact with a myth, symbol, or image representing a particular archetype can activate in us a sense of connection with this archetype on a deeper level.


I would like to introduce you to 4 woman archetypes and some of their representations that can be found in myths. I choose the ones that are close to me but they may not resonate with you. That is why I encourage you to make your own research, to dig deep into amazing worlds of myths and fairytales to find figures and symbols that speak to you somehow. Go into contact with and observe what is happening.


I like to travel through my menstrual cycle with some kind of narrative. Every stage represents qualities of one of the woman archetypes but it does not mean that we have no access to other archetypes' energies during a particular stage. These qualities are always available to us and can be reached in many different ways. I want to offer you one way of exploring them which is related to the journey through the phases of the menstrual cycle.


Bleeding -> Witch

Follicular Phase (after the bleeding) -> Virgin

Ovulation -> Mother

Luteal phase -> Wild Woman


If you find it interesting and would like to know more about these archetypes I invite you to Kali Temple Library where you can find articles about each one of those archetypes and some of their representations.



A menstrual and lunar cycle


In Ancient Greece, it was believed that the moon and menstrual cycle were connected and at the time of bleeding, women become spiritually and mentally powerful. Some still believe that there may be a link between those two. Many are fascinated by this theory while others are very skeptical.


A famous study from 1968 shows that synchronicity between menstrual and lunar cycles might exist.


‘Among the 826 female volunteers with a normal menstrual cycle, aged between 16 and 25 years, a large proportion of menstruations occurred around the new moon (28.3%), while at other times during the lunar month the proportion of menstruations occurring ranged between 8.5–12.6%; the difference was significant’


Another study from 1987 supports this theory and the one from 1977 claims that women whose beginning of the cycle comes with the new moon had a bigger chance of becoming pregnant.


But the newest studies tell something different. In 2013 there was 74 woman examined for 1 calendar year and no significant link between the moon and menstrual cycles were found. Data collected from the Clue app in 2019 found no connection as well. However, one study from 2021 suggests that the menstrual cycle might have been connected with moon phases in the past but modern lifestyle and excess of artificial light destroyed that link.


The scientific community has no coherent opinions on this matter, but the fact is that in many cultures and folklore connections between the menstrual cycle and moon phases were significant factors, and the events related to these phenomena were cultivated. And for some groups, it is cultivated until today. I highly encourage every woman to explore this area by herself. To observe the body and mentality as it changes throughout the cycles and celebrates this. There is a great tool called Moon Mandala* that you can print and use to note your observation during the cycle in your own unique way.


Knowing and understanding the menstrual cycle can be very helpful when you plan your life duties and events. But what is more important is that, with this knowledge, you may feel less lost in this constant change that happens in your body. You may come into every menstrual phase with awareness of what comes with it. On a metaphysical level, you can understand the wisdom of your body and the cyclicity. You can understand this connection to nature that is written in all of us but is too big to be described in words. You just feel that. The feeling of belonging. There is a big power that comes from it. It can simply bring more harmony into your life and a deeper understanding of your nature.


*Moon mandala that I share comes from the sources of Escuela Mandragora that contains content just in polish.


sources:


Ewelina Tyszko Bury, Kamila Raczyńska-Chomyn 'Ona. Zdrowie, seksualność, ćwiczenia mięśni dna miednicy'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1_TZPPmvvI


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