We all know women’s bodies and feelings are influenced by a lot of things beyond our control. One of those influences, studies show, is the moon—a satellite of the earth that rotates around us in a 29.5–day cycle thousands of miles away.
Each month, the lunar cycle goes from a full moon to a new moon, moving itself in various positions and dictating our moods, sexual desires, and even reproductive tendencies, some scientists believe.
We’ve all heard about how the moon affects ocean tides, but what about a different kind of tide—your menstrual cycle?
While most assumptions on how the lunar cycle affects menstruation are speculation, several studies have been performed to try to find a correlation between the two.
In the 1980s, Winnifred B. Cutler published a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that studied 312 university women who were menstruating. She found that 40 percent of participants had the onset of menstruation within two weeks of the full moon, which means they were ovulating during the “dark phase,” or second half of the moon cycle, when the moon isn’t visible from earth.
The study showed 69 women had a menstrual cycle of about 29.5 days, the same length as the lunar cycle.
Dr. Christian Northrup, an OB/GYN, says the phrase “moon time” was used for ages as a euphemism for menstruation, and when women lived together in clans, their menstrual cycles lined up with each other and the moon cycles.
Thanks to evolution, we don’t necessarily have to be exposed to nature and the moon, nor do we have to live in a female cohort, in order to feel the effects of the lunar cycle on our bodies.
In her book Moon Dance: The Feminine Dimensions of Time, Sioux Rose says the lunar cycle directly impacts our emotions and “energizes the collective unconscious.” She suggests that our feelings are connected with the lunar cycle, and if we observe our relationship to the larger cycle, we can adapt a “this too shall pass” attitude.
She says as you get more used to linking your moods with the lunar cycle, you’ll be able to anticipate the feelings and emotions you have on a given day. She recommends keeping a journal of feelings and moods and tracking the moon’s movement each day.
You will see firsthand that moods are not accidental; there is a profound lunar method to the great cosmic “madness,” she says.
Michael Ra Bouchard, a Hawaii-based, board-certified clinical sexologist who offers telephone counseling, says the cycles of the full and new moons influence our sexual tendencies and feelings.
In his article “What Everyone Needs to Know About Women’s Mooncycles,” he says this is why you sometimes go through a period of intense sexual energy, followed by a period where you’re not feeling so hot and sex is the furthest thing from your mind.
He recommends monitoring the amount of tumescence, or “fullness,” you feel throughout the month. The best time to notice this feeling is right before your period, but it can be felt in lesser degrees throughout the moon cycle.
He says to look for—and write down—heightened emotions and sexual desire, an unwillingness and inability to make simple decisions, feelings of insecurity, a craving for sticky or gooey foods, a subtle musky odor emanating from the body and dark circles under the eyes as indicators of the moon’s influence during a full moon.
Some women, he says, release the “fullness” feeling by acting on the sexual desires, either alone or with a partner, or exercising. He’s also found crying, eating, pampering yourself—aka everything you do when you’re PMSing—to help with the release.
So give yourself a chance to discover the moon, and how it may affect your body. You might find answers to your own physical, mental and emotional questions.