How old are you turning this year? Did you know that our bodies have notable life changes and transitions in 7 year cycles for woman and 8 year cycles for men? I want to share with you a little wisdom I’ve learned from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that I have observed to be pretty spot on over my many years of clinical practice as a Registered Acupuncturist.
I actually find that the shift tends to begin 4 to 9 months prior to the beginning of a new cycle and lasts up to 6 months after. It is then that life begins to settle and normalize. For example, not long after a woman turns 27, she may start feeling like something intense is going on or that a big change is on its way and she may feel this way for up to 6 months after she turns 28.These cycles revolve around the essence that courses through our bodies and in Chinese is known as “jing”. We inherit a fixed amount of congenital essence from our parents at birth and obtain acquired essence from the foods and fluids we ingest. This essence is stored in the kidneys and forms the material basis for life to take place.
Let’s dive in and see what happens every 7 years in the life of a women up to the age of 56! You will notice that males experience similar changes, just a little slower because their essence changes in 8 year cycles. If, for example, you want to know roughly what changes happen for men at age 40 (8x5), check out the fifth 7th year cycle for women, age 35 (7x5). Another observation...perhaps the midlife crisis between 40 (8x5) and 48 (8x6) for men is legit?!
A women’s essence changes in 7 year cycles and at each stage there will be a pretty major shift typically combined with some intensity.
Age 7 (7x1)
A girls kidney energy becomes abundant. Her teeth change and adult teeth start coming in. Her hair grows strong and the reproductive system starts to develop. These little girls are no longer babies and begin asserting their independence, yet still want to be nurtured as an infant. Oh the tug and pull of getting older!Age 14 (7x2)
Menstruation begins. In the coming months and years, her period will come regularly, her blood and body fluids become abundant and technically they are able to conceive. Wowzers!? My daughter is 13 and well, I don’t have it in my head yet that she could technically have her own children next year!? At 14, puberty is well on its way and hormones are raging.
Age 21 (7x3)
Her kidney essence peaks. Her adult teeth have completely developed and wisdom teeth often come out. Growth is at it's utmost and her fertility energy is full. And, she's legal to go any place she’d like!
Age 28 (7x4)
Her bones and muscles are strong. Her hair and skin glows and her body is in optimal condition. Because her qi and blood and essence are abundant, her fertile energy reaches its peak. Therefore, this is considered to be the best age for her to start having children. This can also be a challenging and intense time as women are often on their own trying to figure out life and navigate the many dynamics taking place at this time. This 4th 7 year cycle, clinically speaking, tends to be pretty intense for most women across the board and big changes take place.Age 35 (7x5)
Because her yang channels begin to weaken, all of which happen to pass through the face, her complexion starts to wither. She can start to see wrinkles on her face and the hair can even start to thin. A women's peak condition and energy gradually begins to decline. I find that not many people talk about this shift at 35 but I definitely noticed the subtleties of aging begin at this age.
In my opinion this is actually the time to start taking extra care of yourself. Consider taking some supplements and tonics to strengthen and nourish your body and start scheduling regular visits with your acupuncturist, naturopath, chiropractor, massage therapist, and any other body worker you find beneficial. This is an important stage for you to be able to influence and delay your aging. The aging process is natural and inevitable but our choices and lifestyle can greatly influence how vibrant our older years will be.
Age 42 (7x6)
The yang channels continue to weaken, her face wanes and begins sagging and her hair can begin to turn grey. A women’s physical and fertile energy declines and it becomes more difficult to conceive. There is also deterioration to the gums, teeth and eyes.
Clinically speaking, if you haven’t already begun to take diligent measures to preserve your blood and essence and think about your future self, get on it! Make sure you are sleeping enough, making healthy dietary choices, exercising, and keeping high stress to a minimum. Deal with the elephants in the room and honour and preserve your inner peace and happiness. Age 49 (7x7)
Menopause begins. The vitality in the main yin and yang channels of her body greatly declines, infertility sets in, the uterus closes and she no longer menstruates.
Professionally speaking, I can see that this is another major transition in a women’s life and possibly the beginning of a new and more beautiful life, with more wisdom, often more money, more confidence, more stability and new dreams. Go get ‘em tiger! Much of this transition is dependant on our attitude and perspective.Age 56 (7x8)
Finally, men and women are at the same maturity level, 7x8=56. They've both been through their midlife crisis and are more sure of what is really important. They've had enough life experience to realize that they're not immortal.
There is often more stiffness in the joints and tendons and this age and you begin to feel a little bit more creaky. All the more reason to stay active but avoid activities that are high impact. At this point in life you definitely don't have the lubrication you once had.Acupuncture and Chinese medicine acknowledges and incorporates this invaluable wisdom around the cycles in which our body changes, transitions and ages over a lifetime.
Of course everyone is different and these changes can occur earlier or later than 7 or 8 year cycles depending on the endowment we inherit from our parents at birth and how we take care of ourselves along the way.
We can’t change what we were born with, but we do have the power to influence our lives and the aging process by the choices we make everyday around areas that directly influence our essence such as sleep, food, exercise, sex, work, etc.So, be good to yourself along the way and don’t let things get too imbalanced for too long. When you are old you can’t turn the clock back and I certainly hope you won’t look back with regret. Live your life fully, openly, honestly, healthfully with lots of love, acceptance and happiness along the way :-)