I've talked before about the moon and how it can effect all living beings and influence certain occurrences and experiences. The new moon, the full moon, and all the waxing and waning in between has powerful effects on everyone and everything, but this post is focussed more specifically on women, and how intrinsically connected our personal cycles are to the cycles of the moon. By nature, women are lunar beings and, when all is as it should be, we sync to the cycles of nature. Today is the full moon, and I am currently on day two of my cycle, but the approach to both has been more intense than usual for me and what seems like all of my female friends, which is what inspired me to write this post. As I struggled with the worst PMS and the lowest, most irrational moods, constant bloating and the worst breakouts since high school, being able to bitch about it with friends that I discovered were going through exactly the same made it more empowering and exciting than frustrating.
As I opened up about constantly low energy levels and uncharacteristic mood swings, each of my female friends reported similar things - entire days spent crying, an unshakable sense of impending doom and foreboding fears. It made me think about how I'd be feeling if I hadn't happened to see them and hadn't had the chance to share these things, and that made me wonder why we don't talk more openly about these things in general. Feeling alone at such a physically and mentally draining stage of each month is the last thing any of us need, so, if you too are having the monthly cycle from hell, read on sister, you are not alone. Below you'll find more info on why we work the way we do, and how you can become more accepting and attuned to your body and mind during this stage of each month. I've also included a few of my own monthly rituals for managing and handling your cycle in more natural ways, which I assure you will reduce unnecessary pain, stress and other common side effects. The more we acknowledge these things and share them with others, the more we can lift each other up and embrace our natural cycles with acceptance and, almost, adoration (you'll see!).
By nature, all living things should be in sync with the cycles of the moon. The same way we adapt to the cycles of the year (ie, seasons), our bodies and minds are also, to some extent, governed by the phases of the moon. As women, it is thought that in a state of homeostasis and natural purity, we menstruate around the new moon and ovulate when the moon is full. However, these days especially, not everyone experiences this, due to ever changing environmental, chemical and dietary factors - many of which are unnatural. The pill, other hormone-altering medication or contraception being one example, and weight, diet, fitness regime and stress being just a few others. When you manage these things more naturally and when you are synced up with the moon, your cycle won't feel like a pain-in-the-vajay, but more an opportunity to let go and go with the flow (literally).
This month seems to have been a particularly intense month for myself and many of female friends and i’d like to add one anecdote in particular which further inspired this post. When I saw one of my oldest friends on Friday I was complaining about my moods and asked how she was feeling. She said she wasn’t feeling it as, currently on the pill, she wasn’t expecting her period for 2 weeks. This morning (Sunday) she texted me saying she’d come on with intense cramps. And that right there is further proof of the power of the moon.
"The new moon is traditionally associated with menstruation and if you find you get your period with the new moon this is known as a White Moon Cycle. The full moon is traditionally associated with ovulation, but some women do get their period on the full moon and this is called a Red Moon Cycle. The White Moon Cycle is the kind that is more commonly experienced. Historically this is down to the impact of light on the Earth and our bodies – the full moon is the Earth’s most fertile time because of the additional light received by plants when there is bright moonlight as well as sunlight, and this is why it is traditionally associated with the ovulation phase.
Although the White Moon cycle is more common – that’s getting your period on the new moon and ovulating on the full moon – a Red Moon cycle has interesting traditional connotations. Women who experience a Red Moon cycle have historically been thought to be healers, wise women, or medicine women. These women could take care of the other women who were on their period at the time that they themselves were ovulating. It’s also associated with creation in realms other than getting pregnant and having children – when the woman’s focus is on creating art, a business, or a new way of life for herself and others".
How to get more in sync:
+ Download an app to record and track your monthly cycles and notice and understand your personal patterns month by month. This will keep you more aware and more prepared, as well as more understanding of your emotions or energy levels. I use Clue.
+ Refrain from using the contraceptive pill or other methods which unnaturally alter your hormones. I know many people depend of these things for contraception, but it’s much healthier both mentally and physically to just accept more responsibility when it comes to it, and to find a more natural alternative. I use the Clue app, although I know it doesn’t claim accuracy and so I take it upon myself to act responsibly, especially during my fertile window. Many of my friends also use Natural Cycles which is 93% accurate. It includes measuring your temperature daily and inputting your own data into an easy-to-use app, which will then tell you whether you are fertile or not; alerting you whether you should use extra protection to prevent pregnancy or not.
+ Spend more time in nature. In big cities, sometimes it is difficult to even see the moon or find any corner of a natural environment, which is why busy, city people tend to get out of sync than others.
(Although there are these historical and traditional links, it’s not necessarily important that you get your period on the full moon or the new moon – although it can be pretty exciting when it does happen!).
From a young age, we are told to use sanitary products which could in fact be doing more harm than good. Many tampons and pads contain harmful, toxic chemicals and materials, and are thought to have damaging effects inside the body. Tampons are designed to block our natural flow, but whilst our bodies are releasing and detoxing, this isn’t the most ideal or naturally intended idea.
How to stop it:
+ Invest in a moon cup / menstrual cup. I could not get used to the idea of them at first, and initially made the change to organic tampons, but as i learnt more about them, the moon cup seemed the most suitable and sensible - not just for my body but also environmentally and economically. Thinx pants also seem fun but I’m yet to get my hands on a pair.
During your cycle, there is a lot going on internally and autonomically, and powering through daily life with low moods and low energy is more or less a disaster waiting to happen. Whether it’s before, during or after your cycle that you feel particularly fragile, sensitive, lethargic etc etc, take time to tune in, explore what’s going on within (hormone or cycle apps truly help not just during your cycle but throughout the rest of the month too) and surrender. Don’t resist what’s going on and don’t force yourself through anything. Go slow.
How to surrender:
+ Condense your schedule and accept that sometimes you just won’t feel up to doing things you usually would, or that you think you should. Once you’ve used a cycle tracker / app for a few months, keeping up to date with your cycle will be easy, and you can then get to know how and when to schedule things in, like time to be active, time to be social and time to do absolutely nothing. Scheduling in naps, slow days and self care rituals is just as important as scheduling in work and fitness.
+ Discover Moody. Thank me later.
How to soothe:
+ If you’re someone who suffers from painful periods or endures extreme dizziness, fainting, nausea or other side effects, I can honestly say that switching from tampons to a moon cup reduces cramps and tensions. A friend of mine also uses the Livia - a tech toy which reduces pain.
+ And if you’re someone who suffers from severe mood swings, hormone imbalances and low energy, I’d suggest using adaptogens powders and tonic herbs (see a herbalist if you are not familiar with these) to balance hormones and enhance energy and positivity. I love maca, cacao, pine pollen, he shou wu, ashwaganda, mucuna puriens, ginseng, cordyceps and chaga (I also supplement with magnesium, 5htp and vitamin D if i’m feeling particularly low).