With the advent of modern medicine and modern conveniences, women have moved farther and farther away from the day-to-day rhythm of being a woman. Medicines and pills can regulate a woman's cycles, hormones, cramps, pain, and even moods. What all of these modern conveniences forget, however, is that a woman's life is so intertwined with her cycle that it is like the baseline of a song. Modern conveniences and medicines take that baseline or "drumbeat" out and force women to live their life out of their natural rhythm. To be able to heal, women need to get back in touch with this "drumbeat" — this female rhythm that is so essential to being a woman and that is so essential to life as well.
Denial of natural rhythms can cause women to feel confused, depressed, anxious, tired, and empty. A woman who has suffered for many years a rhythm that she and her family cannot identify may eventually even choose, of her own accord, to alter her "mysterious and annoying" rhythm with antidepressants, birth control pills, or any other medicine so that she can function in a rhythm that society more readily accepts. However, this denial and discard of natural female rhythms can result in much more than some occasional emotional upheavals. It can result in a slow chipping away of the female identity, issues with body image, relationship problems, fear, and sexual confusion. [Asset Included(Id:1258433658956;Type:Image_C)]
To regain the true female identity and cadence, women need to get in touch with how their cycle affects them physically, emotionally, and spiritually and learn to work with those rhythms, instead of against them. Women need to learn to honor and love those rhythms and see the wisdom in them, instead of feeling they are victims of their cycles.
The first step is understanding how and why those cycles function as they do and what happens to a woman physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually during each of these cycles.
The Physical Realm
A woman first experiences the follicular phase of her cycle. This phase lasts from the first day of menstruation until ovulation, when a mature egg is released from the ovary. The hypothalamus gland, which is located in the brain, starts this process by releasing gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). So, during this first phase, a woman's hypothalamus is performing extra duties above and beyond its regular tasks, and an excess of the hormone is being released into the female body. One can note that there are differences in GnRH secretion between females and males. In males, GnRH is secreted in pulses at a constant frequency, but in females, the frequency of the pulses varies during the menstrual cycle, and there is a large surge of GnRH just before ovulation.
It is also important to note that the main function of the hypothalamus is homeostasis — to keep the body in balance. It serves as the "health maintenance organization" of the body, regulating its stability or equilibrium. The hypothalamus also generates behaviors involved in eating, drinking, general arousal, rage, aggression, embarrassment, escape from danger, pleasure, and copulation.
A woman continues to change in the physical realm until the first day of her period again. This phase between ovulation and the first day of period is called the "luteal phase" of the cycle. Although it is without the surges in hormones a woman experiences during the other two phases, it does come with its own changes. During this time, the glands within the endometrium secrete proteins in preparation for a fertilized egg. If implantation does not occur, then the endometrium breaks down and the glands stop secreting. This results in the shedding of the uterus lining we call menstruation.
Obviously, without an awareness of these cycles, it would be difficult to maintain a steady and confident self-image when hormones and proteins are being released into the body at different times of the month, and the glands controlling these emotions function on a cyclical basis. Many tests for emotional illnesses take into account how easily a person can control those emotions and how steady those emotions are. Steadiness of emotions is even considered an asset for leadership and for daily functioning in a job.
It is difficult for women to maintain a stable and confident sense of identity when the very definition of what is "good" in society is based on a steady meter of "two-four time" and a woman's body functions in the meter of syncopation or rhythms within rhythms.
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