The last post was the beginning of the discussion of the honor bestowed on those fortunate to be born with feminine parts: a uterus (womb), ovaries, and breast. The term “womb one” was also introduced in an effort to emphasize the magnificence of the feminine in her ability to nurture the development of new life.
Historically, we have come to regard the gift of being the vessel through which life comes forth as a curse or hindrance and this is due, in part, to the fact that we have lost reverence for life and that which allows life to exist. It’s true that hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances can cause excessive discomfort, but this is easily corrected with diet, lifestyle, herbal and nutriceutical therapies. In addition, attitude, or the way we regard our situation also plays an enormous role in how we experience our lives as womb ones. As Wayne Dyer puts it, “Change the way you think about things, and the things you think about change.”
How do we improve our outlook on the physical and psychological changes that occur on a daily basis? By understanding what is happening with the ebb and flow of hormonal and neurotransmitter fluctuations that create the ultimate potential for fertility, birth and nurture of life. The process is complicated, so take your time and refer to the diagram as you read, keeping in mind that the changes occur as an orchestration of various parts of a symphony that combine to make up the exquisite melody of the womb one.
We’ll start with the brain since it sparks the beginning of the reproductive cycle. The secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GNRH) by the hypothalamus is the beginning of the womb one’s ability to bring life into existence at adolescence. The GNRH’s pulsatile release stimulates another part of the brain, the pituitary gland, to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which, in turn, stimulate the development of follicles (immature eggs or oocytes) in the ovaries and, ultimately, the onset of menstruation.
The womb one’s reproductive cycle is typically 24 to 35 days with an average of 28 days in length and is divided into three phases. The follicular phase, which varies more in length than the other phases, starts on the first day of menstrual flow (menses) and consists of follicular development in the ovaries for approximately 13 days.
Menses lasts roughly five days. By day six, the developing follicles actively secrete increasing amounts of estrogen, which stimulates thickening of the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. By the end of this stage, only one of the follicles will have developed to maturity and the remaining follicles recede for unknown reasons.
Paradoxically, estrogen stimulates the synthesis of LH and FSH, but inhibits their release until it reaches its peak level, at which time GNRH and progesterone help estrogen to stimulate the release of an LH surge and FSH on day 13 or 14, marking the beginning of the approximately 2-day long ovulatory phase.
LH stimulates the release of the mature follicle, now called an ovum (mature egg), from the ovary so it can make its way to the fallopian tubes for possible fertilization. By day 15, LH also stimulates the production of the corpus luteum from the remnants of the ruptured mature follicle remaining in the ovary. LH levels sharply decline by the end of the 16th day.
Ovulation marks the beginning of the luteal phase, which is always 14 days long. Ovulation also damages the estrogen producing cells of the follicle in the ovary, so estrogen levels decline.
During the luteal phase, the corpus luteum secretes primarily progesterone and a little estrogen in increasing quantities, peaking at about 6 to 8 days after ovulation or day 21–23 of the cycle. The increase in estrogen and progesterone levels stimulates milk duct dilation in the breasts, which can result in breast swelling and tenderness. Progesterone causes the endometrial tissue to thicken with nutrients and fluids that will nourish a potential embryo.
If the ovum has not become fertilized, the corpus luteum degenerates. As a result, estrogen and progesterone levels gradually decline around day 26 of the cycle. The lack of progesterone and estrogen causes the spiral arteries of the endometrial lining surface to close off. The surface blood pools into “venous lakes” that burst and, along with the endometrial lining, form the menstrual flow. The stage is now set for GNRH to begin the cycle again.
Next month we’ll delve deeper into the psychological and physical affects of estrogen and progesterone as well as other hormones that affect this intricate production. Until then, see if you can pinpoint where you are in your cycle and visualize the changes occurring with your body on a daily basis. It might inspire reverence for the intricacies transpiring for the purpose of setting the stage for the potential for new life and awareness.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as medical advice or as a substitution for medical care provided by a licensed medical doctor.