Aligning with Natural Cycles: A Personal Journey of Hormonal Health
posted by Cynthia Robinson on December 5th, 2018
After having been recently initiated into motherhood, it’s become increasingly clear what a profound gift and responsibility it is to bring life into this world. Like many women I know, it’s been a step I didn’t want to take before feeling ready, and managing my fertility was a continuous source of stress as a young adult.
I had my first child last year, at the age of 37. Here in Peru, where I live and co-founded the Paititi Institute for the Preservation of Ecology and Indigenous Culture, most women my age have many grown kids and I’m often asked by local women, “How did you not get pregnant!?”
For most local women, options are limited. Right around the time I was preparing for motherhood, I met a local woman from Bolivia also wishing to start a family. As we connected on our inspiration to become mothers, she shared with me she was given a shot 10 years earlier to prevent her from getting pregnant. At the time, she wasn’t informed the shot could cause permanent sterilization. It was simply the option available to her for birth control in her early 20s. She shared that it wasn’t merely offered, but forced upon many women in her region.
In each natural medicine clinic our non-profit organizes, I have seen this story play out over and over in one form or another. I’ve come to understand that the main issue isn’t the contraceptives but the lack of education and options available for women to make informed choices. This has been my call to become a part of the solution.
There are many ways to approach birth control today and I honor the choice each person feels is most appropriate. However, what’s become clear in my own journey is that I really didn’t understand the whole range of choices available to me until sickness urged me to awaken the source of healing within!
On my journey, sickness resulted from many years of artificial hormonal regulation with birth control pills. The real solutions involved getting to know the intricacies of my body’s cycles, physically and creatively, and how these cycles are interconnected to the rhythms of nature I’m immersed in. From this unfolding insight, my monthly cycle transformed from a burden to a deeply empowering aspect of my life.
Convenience at the Cost of Humanity – My Story
In my early 20s, I visited a midwife clinic to address my irregular cycle. I was seeking a natural option and trusted this clinic to guide me in a holistic way. However, the only option offered was a birth control pill. My cycle became “regular”, though it never felt like a real solution. How could imposing an artificial cycle onto my body be healthy in any way?
In addition to the irregular cycle, a long-term relationship convinced me to stay on the pill for over seven years. When this relationship ended I was relieved to finally get off the pill and realign with my body’s natural rhythms. Little did I know that the process of getting off the pill would be a long and arduous journey. As my body detoxed and regulated from years of chemical birth control, I experienced strong physical reactions – ovarian cysts, thyroid and blood sugar imbalances, which took over four years to recalibrate.
It’s so convincingly convenient to take a pill, ensuring a “regular” cycle and feeling “safe” from unexpected pregnancy. In our modern world, it’s become easy to ignore, and even fight with the intelligence of nature rather than learn from and work alongside her. I know this ambition well – forge ahead, accomplish, push my agenda. Through getting sick I realized the convenience to be quite illusory and although my agenda seemed to me “humanitarian”, it really was not humane.
This artificial convenience comes at a high price in today’s society, with both personal and collective implications. What we put in our organism also impacts the greater environment. For example, as birth control hormones enter the ecosystem through waste water, studies show a negative impact on terrestrial and aquatic life. It begs the question – What impact do all of our modern conveniences have on the greater whole?
Gradually restoring an intentional relationship with my innate nature, sickness and challenges ignited evolution and greater awareness. It dawned on me that I really knew very little about my physiology and anatomy. What is this magical hormonal dance happening inside and why?
On my search to answer this question I was guided to learn about Body Literacy and the Fertility Awareness Method which gave me a framework to understand fertility by deeply tuning-in to myself. The effect was opposite to chemical birth control, which was automating and encouraged me to tune-out. Not only is the Fertility Awareness Method equally as effective as chemical contraceptives if applied properly, but this method served as a doorway for a much deeper evolutionary exploration in my experience.
This tuning-in opened me up to acknowledge and honor the profound interdependence and interconnection I have with mother nature. My body cycles are dancing with the seasons and flowing with the tides. And as my body physically cycles through ovulation and bleeding, so does the creative flow within my soul. The cycle of birth and death, expansion and contraction is as much mental, emotional and spiritual as it is physical.
Far more profound than artificial control is the potential of deep attunement to the natural energies in and around each of us. With greater awareness of my cycles and patterns, Mother Nature’s intuitive wisdom and her creative power are unfolding my true humanity.
In Service of Natural Womankind
While diving into my own healing journey over the years, I’ve been blessed to simultaneously support many others at our healing center in Peru. So many of the insights into my own process were made possible through the magic of the intentional healing circle and the insightful reflections offered by the journeys of others.
In working with women I noticed a consistent pattern. Those using the pill or IUDs have much stronger purification and physical challenges with indigenous ceremonies in our retreats. It’s as if the artificial and the natural cycles are in conflict with each other. I also witnessed many cases where, once a commitment on the natural healing path was made, the women’s organism would begin to physically reject IUDs, periodically resulting in infections and intense pain.
These observations lead our organization to the decision that we couldn’t allow participation in our longer retreats for those on contraceptives or with an IUD. While not wishing to tell others what personal choices they should make regarding birth control in their own life, the side effects became too apparent for us to ignore in connection with natural healing practices.
This decision initiated an inspiration and a sense of responsibility to share alternatives – first by deepening my own personal process and second supporting the proper training to teach these methods.
This sense of responsibility grew deeper as I stepped into greater service during our Intercultural Healing Exchange initiatives with natural medicine campaigns for the rural Peruvian Communities.
Be the Change – The Call to Practical Solutions
It’s a gift to have access to the continuous unfolding wisdom of my organism and this education is a privilege I’m inspired to share with others, especially here in Peru as a developing country. My personal challenges with hormonal health set the foundation for an inspiration to create educational opportunities for women everywhere to find deep connection with both their bodies and all of nature.
After over two years of planning, we’ve developed a unique educational opportunity for women to do just that, in collaboration with Sarah Bly, FAE DEM who brings 20 years of experience teaching in the field. The first course will be four days long, “Empowering our Feminine Cycle: Body Literacy & Fertility Awareness Method” happening March 21 – 24, 2019. (Detalles en Espanol AQUÍ >>)
The next step will take place in March of 2020 with a 1-month intensive teacher training! The 4-day training program mentioned above is a prerequisite to attend the teacher training. In case you can’t make it this March it is possible to fulfill the prerequisite online. (If interested in this training – email us to receive updates).
This is a rare teacher training opportunity since Sarah has developed a way to condense what usually is a two year teacher training program into a one month intensive format. In order to make this wisdom more available in this part of the world, we’re inspired to train alongside our international community a group of local women teachers who can continuously share with the local communities here in Peru.
With this training available to our international community, each woman joining from developed countries will make it possible for us to sponsor at least one local Peruvian woman. Scholarships will also be available to those in our community who are dedicated to sharing this wisdom in other developing countries.
It’s our sovereign right as women to access the wisdom of our organism. It’s my wish to share what I’ve learned on my journey and to continue to grow through our mutually awakening powers of creation.
May we each know ourselves deeply and in this way come to care deeply for others.