When I was younger I got my period on the full moon like clockwork. This is something that is common for up to 20% of the menstruating population who are not using a method of hormonal contraception. About 80% of women do the opposite: they menstruate on the new moon and ovulate on the full moon.
Enter the birth control pill. My cycle no longer corresponded with the moon and as the years passed I felt more and more disconnected from my body.
Once I went off of it, I felt myself open up to a whole new world of body intuition and even greater creativity. When learning to observe what my body needed at different phases of the menstrual cycle, I was taught to compare different parts of my cycle to the lunar cycle. I deeply appreciated this practice and I still work with it today and teach it to my clients.
The “lunar phases” of our menstrual cycle
Our bleeding days are lower energy and correspond with the new moon. These are good days for intention setting as our intuition is heightened due to more communication between the left and right halves of our brain.
The rest of the follicular phase is like the waxing phase of the moon. As levels of estrogen increase, so do our energy and sociability.
This culminates in the ovulatory phase, which is like the full moon. At this point we are the most primed for action as levels of estrogen and testosterone are high.
Following this, the luteal phase corresponds with the waning moon. Our energy levels revert to a calmer, more introverted space as our levels of estrogen decrease, and our levels of progesterone increase. This is a good time for refining anything we’ve been working on as our brain is more predisposed towards detail orientation.
This brings us back to the new moon or bleeding phase and the cycle repeats.
Working with the moon
Working with these phases within my menstrual cycle has been very helpful for my self-care practices. However, over the past six months I have also been working with the lunar cycle via the methods of Ezzie Spencer.
According to Ezzie, there are yin and yang phases within the lunar cycle that alternate and change about every 3-4 days. By setting an intention at the beginning of each lunar phase and working towards it throughout the month and staying in alignment with the lunar cycle, you work with the moon to manifest your goals.
I really love this, and so far I’ve found it to be very effective. It’s also a great way to go about accomplishing my goals while maintaining a balance between feminine and masculine energies.
Reconciling the lunar cycle with my monthly cycle
But, when I started this practice, my menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle were no longer in sync and it sometimes felt like my biology and the moon were at odds. Since I found great value in observing both cycles, I’ve spent some time trying to figure out how to honor both.
This is what I suggest:
Consider the lunar cycle first. This is not because I want you to prioritize it over your body, but because your body is working to align with it. Consider whether the moon is in a yin or a yang phase and observe how this ties into your own energy levels. Try to schedule social engagements for yang phases, and lighten up your schedule around yin phases.
Second, take into consideration which tasks you will be more physiologically predisposed to during different times of your own monthly cycle. This means that a yang lunar phase during your bleeding days looks radically different than one at ovulation or even during the luteal phase. Taking discerning action during the beginning of your cycle usually entails goal refinement, while at ovulation it might mean more networking, social events or presentations.
Exercise + sleep should be dictated by how your body feels. When it comes to exercise and the amount of sleep you need, listen to your body first. Your body typically wants to do more around ovulation and to do a lot less heading into your bleeding days. Don’t push it. Sometimes the phases of the moon also influence your energy levels and you might act accordingly.
Observe patterns as they emerge. I’m sure this is starting to sound like a lot of work, but it’s really just a matter of paying attention to how you are feeling at different stages of both cycles. I simply use the lunar cycle and my monthly cycle as indicators and predictors of when I will excel at certain things so that I can plan accordingly. Have you ever accepted a social engagement and then just wished you could go home and make yourself a nice meal and eat in the company of your favorite TV show instead? This is how you minimize the chances of things like this happening, which helps to reduce burnout!
Stay open! You will have days that prove to be exceptions to the rule, so stay flexible. If you’ve booked a relaxing day into your schedule and it turns out you’d rather go out with your girlfriends, do it! Living in alignment with your monthly cycle and the lunar cycle is a tool at your disposal, not a mandate.
Creating more alignment
After creating space to honor both of these cycles, I now regularly bleed on the new moon and ovulate on the full moon.
Paying attention to both cycles helped to foster this alignment. You can also use other tools like sleeping in total darkness with the exception of the few days around the full moon to help cycle-sync your body with the moon.
In my health coaching practice I encourage women who are going off of hormonal contraceptives to take their last pill on the day of or the day before the new moon (even if its mid-pill pack!). This gives your body the extra support of the lunar cycle as your body readjusts to life without synthetic hormones.
The moon provides an excellent outward indicator that we, as women, are cyclical beings and are not the same on every single day of the month. By honoring the lunar cycle and your own monthly cycle, you’ll create less friction as you work with your body, and the universe, to create and maintain a life of ease, joy, productivity and contentment.