we often find similarities, parallels and curious correspondences between
some psychological, anatomical and physiological patterns. As I observed
in my book "Os Órgãos Sexuais
Femininos: Forma, Função, Símbolo e Arquétipo"
("The Female Sexual Organs: Shape, Function, Symbol and Archetype"),
our attention must be focused not only on the anatomical, physiological,
pathological and psychological aspects of the several organs, systems
and parts of the body, but also on their archetypal symbolism. Specifically
concerning Gynecology, the study of all archetypes related to women and
femininity acquires fundamental importance. One of those archetypes is
the one of the woman's predominantly "passive" and "receptive"
nature - though I am entirely aware that many women absolutely do not
accept this old archetypal view of female nature... Nevertheless, I must
remark that the concept of "female passivity" I am talking about
is, many times, much more "actively-passive" than actually "passive",
since it contains a powerful and strong "active" side ( see
brief introduction, let us go to the main subject of this article. The
uterus is an organ whose contractile physiology reveals quite well not
only the "passive", "receptive" side of female nature,
but also its "active" or "actively passive" side.
Whenever this organ is mostly relaxed, we can say that the uterus behaves
according to the basic female "passive-receptive" archetypal
pattern. Hence the old symbolic analogy of this organ with a receptacle,
a "vessel" intended to receive something inside it. Conversely,
on the occasions it has to contract ( during menstruation, orgasm and
parturition ), the uterine behaviour reveals the manifestation of the
"active" side of the "intrinsically passive-receptive"
female nature. Even according to this old archetypal concept of the female
predominantly "passive" nature, this nature often exhibits patterns
that are much more "actively-passive" than actually "passive".
( For physiological details on the uterine contractility and the several
endocrine, biochemical and neurovegetative factors that control it, see
my aforementioned book "Os Órgãos
Sexuais Femininos: Forma, Função, Símbolo e Arquétipo".
In basal ( repose ) conditions,
along the greatest part of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, the uterus
remains mostly relaxed, exhibiting only slight sparse contractions and
moderate variations in the tonus of its muscle fibers. Considering the
enormous contractile capacity of the myometrium ( the strong uterine muscular
layer ), this fact clearly demonstrates how much the uterus, in most circumstances,
tends to reveal the aforementioned intrinsically "passive" archetypal
pattern of woman's nature. That means that, even being capable of potent
contractions, the uterus only makes use of them during menstruation, orgasm
and childbirth. Therefore, usually the myometrium only behaves "actively"
in very special situations of the uterine physiology.
contractions of the uterus ( which can be slight, moderate or intense
) can be regarded as an "active" physiological reaction intended
to aid the expelling of the necrotic endometrium together with the menstrual
blood. They are mostly triggered by an increased production of prostaglandins
in the shrinking and necrotic endometrium. (
The formation of these prostaglandins in the endometrium during the menstrual
necrosis of this tissue generates the increase in the uterine contractility
typical of this phase of the cycle, giving rise to the menstrual cramps.
uterine contractions take place simultaneously with the orgasmic contractions
of the perineal muscles that surround the vaginal entrance, and seem to
be mostly due to a potent nervous stimulation * ( see Note
2 ). During sexual intercourse, both the uterine and perineal
contractions perfectly reflect the important "actively-passive"
aspect of women's nature. The sexual act is one of the situations in which
the female predominantly "passive" nature becomes more evident,
due to the elementary fact that, during the intercourse, men penetrate
and women are penetrated. In this context, the typical orgasmic contractions
of the uterus ( as well as those of the circumvaginal perineal muscles
) can be regarded as an "active" physiological response of women
to a situation which, for them, is intrinsically "passive."
Thus, here we have a manifestation of the "active" side of the
female archetypal "passivity", by means of which women clearly
The most potent
uterine contractions are those of parturition. The enormous contractile
force of the uterus during childbirth only becomes possible as a result
of the equally enormous increase in the myometrial ( and obviously uterine
) volume that takes place along pregnancy, as well as of the other anatomical
and physiological features of the uterus at the end of gestation and the
powerful hormonal and biochemical stimuli that trigger parturition. (
The most important hormonal factor responsible for the strong uterine
contractions of labour is oxytocin *. As to this hormone, see Note
) Though they are not voluntarily triggered, these powerful
uterine contractions can be regarded as the way by which women, after
nine months of "passive" submission to the evolution of pregnancy,
"actively" participate in childbirth, putting an end to the
long, strenuous, uncomfortable and physically and psychologically stressing
period of gestation.
From the symbolic
standpoint, in whichever circumstances it might be, the contractile capacity
of the uterus perhaps might function, for many women, as a reaction against
the predominantly "passive" and "receptive" nature
of this organ and female nature itself. This fact acquires great importance
in Psychosomatic Gynecology. Regardless of the fact that, as we have seen,
the uterine contractions are not under voluntary command, they can be
psychosomatically triggered through the neuroendocrine and neurovegetative
Cases of spasmodic
pelvic pain can be related to a state of chronic uterine hypertonicity
which almost always causes moderate to intense myometrial contractions.
Some cases of dysmenorrhea may be a psychosomatic manifestation of conflicts
that many women exhibit towards menstruation and female nature. As I have
observed in my book "Novas Perspectivas em
Ginecologia" ("New Perspectives in Gynecology"),
one more typical aspect of women's nature seems to be the presence, in
variable degrees, of conscious or unconscious negative attitudes in relation
to some of its features.
1: Here we have to face that complex and often misunderstood
archetypal subject of the mostly "receptive," "passive"
female nature, in contrast to the "active" male one. This concept
regarding women's psycho-sexual "passivity" actually is very
relative and is due to an intrinsic "receptivity" of women,
who desire to be desired. That attitude, in turn, results from the strong
self-erotic and narcissist component of female sexuality. Nevertheless,
this female archetypal "passivity" includes remarkable "active"
components, by means of which women often become much more "actively-passive."
A typical form of a well-known and very frequent female "actively-passive"
behaviour can be seen whenever a woman assumes complete control of sexual
intercourse. In such circumstances the woman is said to be "actively-passive"
because, though behaving in an "active" way, in the intimacy
of her sexual psychodynamics, her inner attitude often remains basically
"passive." Another obvious manifestation of the "active"
side of the female archetypal "passivity" is emphasized by Julius
Evola when he points out the enormous women's "non-active power and
magic," by means of which they attract and seduce men ( Evola, J.
- "A Metafísica do Sexo" ["The Metaphysics of
Sex"] - Edições Afrodite, Portugal, 1976 ).
: I hope feminists reach a deeper understanding of this subject
concerning the archetypal female's predominantly "passive" and
"receptive" nature, as well as its great relativity, and don't
get angry with me...
is a gynecologist dedicated to Clinical, Preventive and Psychosomatic
Gynecology. Graduated in 1974 by Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro, he is the author of several articles published
in medical journals and of the books "Novas
Perspectivas em Ginecologia" ("New Perspectives in Gynecology")
and "Os Órgãos Sexuais Femininos:
Forma, Função, Símbolo e Arquétipo" ("The
Female Sexual Organs: Shape, Function, Symbol and Archetype"),
published by Imago Editora, Rio de Janeiro, 1990, 1993.
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