Lunar Magic: Moontime For The Modern Girl's Menstrual Cycle

Lunar Magic: Moontime For The Modern Girl's Menstrual Cycle

Up until my mid 20’s, I had been pretty ambivalent about this whole menstruation business. Like, I knew I would get my period every month. I knew it would suck and be painful and make me a total monster. I knew I would probably eat more than my bodyweight in chocolate. And I was cool with all that. It’s just the facts of life, I thought.

Spoiler Alert: there’s more to this whole period thing than just bleeding and eating chocolate, and it all ties back to the moon.

Then one day, after a couple years of rockin' the single girl in the big city life (read: turning my den into a dressing room, waking up alone with pizza in my bed, and dodging cat calls and ass grabs like it's my day job), I snagged myself a BF.

And to everyone's surprise, he was more than just defense against the dark arts of street harassment (like, when I was walking downtown with him, not one male told me to smile, or smacked his lips at me). He was a real BF who loved me for me and didn't even flinch when he saw the unicorn mask in my dressing room or the chocolate stash in my nightstand. He was a keeper.  

I liked him sooooo much that despite my obsession with babies, I agreed not to trick him into an "accidental" pregnancy. So, I downloaded Clue, a nifty period and ovulation tracking app, onto my iPhone and within a few months of tracking my periods, I started having some major revelations about my menstrual cycle. 

Full disclosure: For those of you who might be wondering what a period-tracking app has to do with preventing pregnancy when you’re not on “the pill,” the answer is everything. While Clue is definitely NOT a contraceptive, it is a very handy tool that, when combined with common sense, can help you make smart decisions in the heat of the moment...if you catch my drift. 
 
And for those of you wondering why I don’t use “the pill” or any other pharmaceutical birth control methods, it’s because picture your worst nightmare, and then imagine being that nightmare 24/7...YEAH, that’s been my experience with birth control. If this sounds at all familiar to you, check out this article by Urban Alchemy on How To Get Off The Pill Without Your Entire System Going Crazy.

ANYWAY,  When I started tracking my moods and my symptoms — the bad ones like cramps, acne, irritability, but also the good ones like feeling motivated, productive and energized — in my handy little period-tracking app, I started to better understand the cyclical nature of it all.

And when I started to understand the cyclical nature of it, I knew what to expect and could better plan for what I knew would be coming.

For example: With Clue, I could pinpoint (almost, exactly) when I would get my period. So, knowing I was going to be getting my period on a Friday, and knowing that typically, on the first day of my period, I’m a bit anti-social and enjoy alone time…I would plan for a solo night in, order my favorite takeout food and watch movies in bed.

Other things I can also pinpoint (almost exactly) with Clue: when PMS will begin, my ovulation window, when I'll legitimately be able to justify spending $12 on a gourmet chocolate bar, etc. etc.

It was a revelation, I was sure of it. I had hacked my period — I had effectively learned how to harness my moods based on my cycle to optimize every week of every month (though I wasn't always doing the best job of it).

But my discovery was just a small one. The more research I did, the more I realized, there’s a whole lot more to this menstrual cycle business than I had any idea about and — this is where the lunar magic sentiment comes in —  it all ties back to the moon.

Moontime For The Modern Girl's Menstrual Cycle

lunar-cycles-menstruation

Let me break it down for you...

Each month, the moon cycles through 4 distinct phases:

  1. New
  2. Waxing
  3. Full
  4. Waning

And each month, your menstrual cycle also goes through 4 distinct phases:

  1. Menstrual
  2. Follicular
  3. Ovulatory
  4. Luteal

Okay, that’s cool, right? We’re starting to see some connection, here. Both the lunar cycle and your menstrual cycle take about 28-29.5 days to complete.

Things start to get really interesting when we dig a little deeper and realize that each phase of each cycle tends to have a different effect on our energy, moods, and spirit. And if we can clue-in to these phases — understand what's going on in our body, head, and heart — we can actually use this information to our advantage.

1. Menstrual/New Moon

You’re bleeding. You also might be crying. a lot. And that’s okay because this is the phase in our cycle when our emotional strength is at its lowest. Time to Netflix & chill. Relax. This is a good time to listen to your body, to slow down, to give it the rest it needs.

This might mean taking a day off from the gym, or it might just mean subbing out your usual run for a nice walk. Instead of working overtime, you might skip out early. Or, instead of staying out and up late, you might stay in and draw a bath.

For extremists like myself, being on your period is also a perfectly acceptable excuse to spend an entire day in your pajamas—forgoing work, gym, and all other obligations—and succumb to some of your more indulgent cravings.

2. Follicular/Waxing

According to The Moon School, in this post-bleeding phase, “the pituitary glands release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is the signal the ovaries need to get ready to ovulate.”

It’s also in this phase — after we’ve come out of our chocolate coma and put on real pants that don’t have a drawstring or elastic waist — that our confidence is on the up and up (changing out of sweatpants can do that to a girl). With our physical and emotional energy on the rebound, we're ready to get back out there.

3. Ovulatory/Full Moon

Nevermind werewolves or crazies or howling at the moon, this is the part of our cycle that freaks all sex-educated boys out the most. Oooooo-ovulation!

My BF will literally steer clear of me during this phase (on account of the whole not ready to bring a child into this world, thing) which is honestly an impressive feat because it’s during this phase that we are physically at our strongest, emotionally energized and sexually confident.

Lucky for him/all fertility-spooked boys, we have better things to do during this phase, like throw or attend a party, do something totally creative, or try something new and  exciting.

4. Luteal/Waning

The fertility high has faded, and we’re coming down now. As our emotional and physical energy is on the decline, we’re also starting to experience symptoms of PMS.

It’s during this phase that you might find yourself totally irritable or incredibly anxious or wondering why your BF continues to chop the carrots that way even though you’ve told him a million times, THAT’S NOT HOW YOU DO IT.

Word to the wise: don’t try to do too much, or be too much of anything during this particularly PMS-laden time. Focus on self-care. Go inward.

*

Application of this knowledge doesn't happen over night. But simply understanding these phases allows you to make more informed decisions about how you live and schedule your life.

Regardless of where my period occurs in the moon cycle, I have found that I am capable of being my "best self" when I'm going with the flow and listening to what my body is telling me during each phase. 

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ps. this article is the second of three in my magical menstruation series. stay tuned next week for the every girl's menstrual survival guide. you can read last week's post here.

The Every Girl's Menstrual Survival Guide: 9 Tips You Need To Know Right Now

The Every Girl's Menstrual Survival Guide: 9 Tips You Need To Know Right Now

Your Period is Not "Gross" and 4 More Menstrual Myths, Debunked

Your Period is Not "Gross" and 4 More Menstrual Myths, Debunked