Biological discussion of female midlife today. You have been warned! Herself speaks.
Thirty-three years or so of menstrual cycles, interrupted here and there by the incubation of the Offspring and a bit of ovulatory dormancy while nursing -- that's a long time of ebb and flow. With a six-week interval (and the concomitant problems of an extended cycle), it's been quite a ride. Even now, a few years after divorcing my recalcitrant and troublesome uterus, my ovaries still dutifully perform their tasks, and I thereby continue bear witness to the cyclical ups and downs on a relatively regular basis.
Follicular phase: productive, energetic, cerebral, with an abundance of patience and a dash of cheerfulness. I find things to write about and have a willingness and an ability to do so. I get things done, and I am light on my feet. My brain is contentedly busy, and life is brighter.
In contrast, luteal phase: slower, heavier, more primal, with a higher body temperature and a quest for caloric intake that is relentless and nearly insatiable. I will eat anything not nailed down -- and sometimes to my detriment, for the amount of willpower to abstain from foods that are migraine-inducing is dramatically reduced during this time. Motivation to write (or clean, or exercise) is harder to come by, and must be dredged up from the very depths. I get things done, but the effort seems so much more. My brain is restlessly busy, and life is a darker shade.
And I wonder: what is in store once menopause -- which surely at my age must be somewhere on the horizon -- arrives?
Will it be a follicular-like state as the endpoint? Will it be luteal-like? Will I wake up one morning, and think back about the past several months to realize that I have at last been released from cycling? Will it be announced by the advent of hot flashes, or not? Will I be oddly sad, as I was after the hysterectomy, to know that I have crossed a bridge and can never return to where I once was? What happens next?
I might be a bit afraid. And perhaps just a wee bit tearful. But then again, that could just be a sign of my current luteal phase.
Such a mystery, to be a soul tethered in an earthly, vulnerable vessel.
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