For most of my life, I have called in balance and not known how to obtain it. That is not a me thing, it is a side effect of living in a patriarchal dominated society. In this case, by patriarchal, I mean that our work week is designed off of men’s hormones, a 24-hour cycle. If we can manage to redesign women’s work weeks using cyclical living, we can find that balance. Have you noticed how some days you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to and others you can hardly get out of the door with your keys, your head, and your needs for the day? After reading this article and other pieces on cyclical living, you will understand the physiological platform that creates this dynamic and how to use it to your benefit. If you are no longer cycling, or born male-bodied, you can incorporate cyclical living using the moon as your guide. The new moon represents menstruation, the waxing moon represents the follicular phase, the full moon — ovulation, and the waning moon — the luteal phase. Using cyclical living principles calls back femininity into power and provides a method of living that harnesses this power to our benefit in a male-dominated world.
When I first began to learn about women’s health outside of medical school, I was a bit pissed. I felt like an entire secret magical garden that I contained was hidden from me.
I chose a special integrated medical program in order to have wisdom woven into knowledge and to know both medicines in this world.
And still, women’s health was presented from the scientific lens, leaving no space for curiosity. The thing is, as women, we have cycles that are as unique to our relationship with our physiology as the moon is with Earth.
The nuanced shifts in cortisol, thyroid, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, and every single hormone in our body waxes and wanes with menstruation and ovulation. We can use this knowledge to structure our lives in our work week, our community, our families and in our self-care.
As times have shifted, we are demanding more equity and justice for female bodies, for Black and Brown bodies, and for ourselves. Speaking out requires us to mobilize healthy aggression. As we address cultural causes of oppression, it is very helpful to have tools of self-care that structure rest, go, fight, and pause. As we have more opportunities for high performing jobs, managing health, and balance, this structure is essential. Womxn are equal in the workforce, and still have to fight for equal pay, equal respect, and equal representation. Womxn have magic. Womxn can harness intuition, living in a middle world, as we go out and slay the workforce. The key to shifting our lives to feed both ourselves and the workforce is using cyclical living as a method of restructuring our schedules.
Here, we will focus mostly on ovulation and the magnetism of the egg. The term ‘egg wisdom’ is popularized by Kate Northrup, who is the daughter of Christine Northrup. Kate teaches scaling business, while listening to your body, and is a leader to be recognized in Western culture. As we approach egg wisdom, it is important to note the leading factors that set you up for success for the moment of ovulation.
On those days that you feel like you are on your game, in all parts of your life, may be a function of the physiology of ovulation. In the time leading up to ovulation, day 1 of menstruation to around day 13, you are in the follicular phase. During the later part of the follicular phase, estrogen manages to build an anabolic state. This is a great time to organize and structure your life. Physiologically, cortisol moves from high to lower, estrogen begins to take the lead, and your thyroid levels are lower. Using estrogen and cortisol as key players, you can begin to structure your schedule as this: begin organizing projects for work and home, lift heavier weights, build muscle, run more, and run faster. You are less likely to move into a sympathetic dominant state because you are not pushing an already high cortisol past its limit and using your metabolic state in a way that matches your cycle.
This is also a time to structure your monthly goals so that you can rest more during the luteal phase and receive what gifts you are striving for in a gentler way, without chasing after them and grasping too hard at a single goal. This is where the concept of egg wisdom enters our cycle.
During the structuring and organizing of your follicular phase (day 3-ovulation), your ovaries are working hard to begin growing plump follicles that house the egg. At some point, a “star follicle” begins to outshine the others. She is the one that carries the egg that is meant to be released. As she releases the eggs into the fallopian tubes, a chemostatic process moves the egg into the center of the tube. There, she waits. She knows this is the opportunity to grow life, she knows this is the single opportunity to be fertilized, yet she sits and waits. The magnetic frequency that she emits is something to write home about, yet she doesn’t go out flashing it to the uterus, which is closer to the potential sperm. She waits there, during that 24 hours, using her egg eyes like magnets, pulling in what is meant to be. If sperm arrives through the cervical opening into the uterus and all the way up the fallopian tube (sperm can live in the vaginal canal for five days!), the egg remains still, using chemical signaling as the law of attraction. The egg relies on cervical mucus to direct the sperm into the reproductive tract, then the fallopian tubes use their finger-like projections to direct the sperm to where she is. The magic of stillness does not stop there. The egg then, through an acrosomal reaction, has the ability to choose the healthiest sperm and alter its DNA all through sitting calmly in the law of attraction.
What does egg wisdom mean to me? To me, egg wisdom is a reminder that though I have a brilliant mind and spirit to shout my teachings to the world, it is a time to remember the magic of being female-bodied. We can push through, control, and micromanage our way to success in this society, and there may be times for that control.
However, there is a magical moment when we can sit in our magnetic selves and watch for the correct moment to release our potential. The thing is, many things seem to take forever in a society that we are expected to consistently be producing to achieve success.
If we model our standards of achievement after the wisdom of our cycles, we can begin to tone down the push and control impulses and allow space for magnetic creation. Often, when we are in a state of attempting to control our lives, our projects, and loved ones around us, we are in a sympathetic state. We are bracing for something to happen or else moving forward toward our goals. If we remain in that sympathetic dominant state for too long, inhibitory mechanisms begin to take over to shove us back into parasympathetic. When parasympathetic (or dorsal inhibition) begins to rise, it can cause a state of fatigue that is very difficult to override. Even in time with the two states together, continuing to push can feel something like the gas and breaks on at the same time. I often see this in clients that have a mix of apathy, depression, stagnation, and anxiety.
Modeling our actions off of egg wisdom, where we mobilize during the follicular phase, take a moment to pause and wait, we allow for us to honor our bodies’ need for rest. Structuring and pre-planning those moments allows for us to continue the work we do in a way that is magnetic and seen in this world as more than just doing. This state of being is an honoring of our bodies, our wisdom, and carries the resiliency that our ancestors have passed to us. Inhibiting the celebration of rest is a structure of colonialism/patriarchy. The more we discuss this model of being, the more we enable forward movement into a world that is better for the next generations to come. This is what I call cyclical living for fertile creation: honoring egg wisdom, intuition, and using body literacy as a form of empowerment.
Dr. Alexandra Cope is a naturopathic practitioner and womxn’s fertility specialist. Her mission is to help womxn become empowered in their femininity through learning the steps of their cycle, how to heal menstrual disharmony with herbs and nutrition, and how to maximize productivity and health according to the lunar month. Dr. Cope is taking patients online and in Richmond, Virginia. You can also find her on Instagram @copesthetichealth.