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Education | Inspiration | Earth Love

Second Spring (Menopause) :: An Introduction

mythic quest Apr 28, 2021
Tiger with flower wreaths

This post feels appropriate as tulips are blooming, the cottonwood trees are budding, and the world is once again an explosion of color. The long winter is melting. Every April I wonder if the spring will arrive, will the grasses return, will the birds sing their soul songs. And every year the transformations do, indeed, at long last, happen!

Along with the beauty of rebirth, this is also the third spring I'm experiencing the transformations of The Second Spring. This evocative term is how Chinese Medicine refers to the perimenopausal and menopausal transitions in a woman’s life. A few definitions: perimenopause is the period of a woman's life before the occurrence of the menopause; menopause is the cessation of menstruation for a full year. 

As with all transitions, there are the peaks and valleys. The planting of seeds that will flourish for many years to come. The acceptance of riotously charged and changing symptoms. The realization that certain stages of life need to be completed in order to enter fully-resourced into the new. 

Below I’ll share some of my experiences in this journey, in the hope it can provide some measure of guidance and reassurance in yours.

 

It Does End BUT Life Will Change

My elders do provide the comfort that the difficult symptoms of perimenopause & menopause do end. Thank the Goddess!! Because my symptoms are outrageous, insane, and ever-changing.

I like to liken it to adolescence, which my teen at home is experiencing, with similar physical and emotional impact of the hormonal changes.

Unfortunately though, one of the differences between the transition to teen-hood and the transition to elder-hood is that teens are allowed, even expected, to ride the currents of their changes and be who they are. Sure, for that age group, that may be the only way to weather the storms.

AND I do wish for all women who are experiencing menopause to also be held with the same reverence and the world around acknowledge that this transition can be darn hard. Know that Big internal changes signal Big external changes. It isn't possible to go on with life as it is, hide symptoms and present a brave front. Major cataclysmic shifts are happening! And these shifts often feel like they are trying to swallow us whole. 

 

Adrenal Health Matters

This cannot be emphasized enough! 

 When one enters their Second Spring, the ovaries stop ovulating,  decreasing their production of progesterone and estrogen. Some of this slack can be picked up by the adrenal glands, as they are able to secrete progesterone as well as other hormones such as androstenedione (a precursor hormone for estrogen and testosterone).

But here’s the catch!

Throughout our lives, the adrenals are also responsible for the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol. For many of us, our 20s and 30s are spent in ambitious roles at work, raising family, engaging in social circles, staying on top of everything, all of which can heavily tax the adrenals. The adrenals produce constant cortisol to manage the stress responses, the fight-or-flight, the persistent feeling that we have something else to take care of or we'll be in some type of mortal danger. 

So by the time we reach our Second Spring, the adrenals can be completely depleted and fatigued. In whatever capacity they can, the adrenal must continue to focus on the production of baseline levels of cortisol rather than the production of progesterone and other sex hormone precursors.

The result? Adrenal fatigue can worsen a woman’s menopause symptoms (by A LOT) and create hardship during this transition.

 

Taking Stock

Of course, I can’t go back and change my relationship to stress in my ‘youth’, and how much I knowingly and unknowingly let in. 

But I can choose how to live from today onwards. 

One big realization : I COULD STOP PUSHING MYSELF SO DANG HARD. What am I actually gaining? What is anyone gaining? I wish to take a permanent re-route in this canoe of life. Rather than rowing upstream in cold, pouring rain, it's time to commit to the flow of the river, the ease, the endless gifts of current and time-honored direction.

When I shared this with my dear Menopause Support Group led by herbalist Cat Pantaleo, other members chimed in with similar awareness. Though our years on the planet were shorter, and energy much reduced, there was the desire to live more of our years in peace. 

The HOW of all this still remains at large. But I do commit to befriending the huge ambition inside of me, and begin cutting cords that tie me to its societal and ancestral source.

 

Move Through, Not Around

I have spent a lot of time trying to find a way to avoid this transition, feeling like a victim, denying the signs of getting older. And now, three years in, it seems to be causing more run-around and adrenal depletion. There isn’t a magic pill to take it all away!! [Though I have found some amazing herbs, foods, and ways of being that are helping with symptom relief, which will be shared in the next post].

And that’s the beauty of it. Perhaps going through this process of awakening and coming into the beginnings of Elderhood is supposed to be hard, or there wouldn’t be the magical insights, the growing stronger and wiser, the vast embrace of the steep unknown ahead. 

And I endeavor to accept that it’s just going to suck for a while. 

 

The Choice

I choose to be in full expression of my experience, the peaks and valleys, the insights and regrets.

I choose to stand tall and be the force that awakens suppressed selves inside all of us.

I choose to dance with my protectors and allies, Goddess Kali and Goddess Tara, and embody their expressions of compassionate ferocity for the highest purposes of Self, service, and surrender. 

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

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