The Moon and Your Menstrual Cycle
By Ana Davis
How to be More Mindful of Your Cycle
It’s common knowledge that the moon affects oceanic tides and supports the growth of plants, but it’s perhaps lesser known that it can also influence your menstrual cycle.
The average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle is 29.5 days, which exactly mirrors that of the lunar cycle and it appears that ovulation can be triggered by the light of the full moon due to its interaction with a woman’s hormonal system.
In the Zambezi valley in Africa, women have known this for a very long time—they expected to ovulate at the full moon and menstruate when the moon was new. They took advantage of this by adapting the roofs of their houses with a special opening for the full moon to shine through. Another example is the Yurok American Indian women who menstruated in synchrony ‘utilising the light of the moon to regularise their menstrual cycles.’*
Even in our modern, urbanised environments our bodies reflect a connection to sister-moon. There are studies that show higher rates of conception (and therefore ovulation) occur around the full moon, whereas there is a decrease in conception (and therefore ovulation) around the new moon.
This pattern of bleeding in sync with the new moon is known as a ‘white moon cycle’ and while it is common, many women also bleed at the opposite end of the lunar cycle—around the time of the full moon, which is known as a ‘red moon cycle’.
It’s fascinating to compare how different we can feel physically and emotionally during these two lunar-menstrual patterns and to explore what they might reflect about aspects of our lives at the time.
White Moon Cycle
Bleeding in sync with the new moon means that you are likely to be ovulating with the full moon. This is therefore considered to be the optimal pattern for aiding fertility.
Dr Robert E. Svoboda, an American Ayurvedic physician, writes that when a woman ovulates with the full moon, ‘the heavens encourage her body and mind to be plump and juicy,’ and menstruating with the new moon helps her body, ‘to expel unused fertility juices.’
Therefore, if you’re regularly bleeding in alignment with the new moon it may mean your body is focused on ‘mothering’, either literally, as it prepares to conceive and nurture new life in the form of a potential pregnancy, or figuratively, in terms of an enhanced propensity for nurturing others. This energy can be fostered by ensuring you nurture yourself during your bleeding time with plenty of rest and withdrawing from outside work and social commitments—where possible!
In a Moving with the Moon approach to our cycles and our bodies, the dark and new moon phases of the moon are considered to be a more internal and introverted time of the month that suits rest and deep inner reflection. Menstruation is a time when we are naturally lower in energy and is therefore totally in tune with this more quiet lunar-energy.
But some women find this descent into darkness challenging.
Takayo finds her current white moon cycle a little ‘tough’, especially the waning moon phase when she often suffers headaches and bloating and feels like she’s ‘holding too much stuff’ and feels ‘overwhelmed’. But she says as soon as her period starts she feels a deep release, and by day 3 or 4 her low energy lifts and she feels ‘revitalised’.
Red Moon Cycle
The pattern of bleeding in sync with the full moon represents a connection with your inner creativity—birthing something within yourself, rather than a literal baby.
Interestingly many women report that this pattern feels much ‘lighter’.
Ashlee says that bleeding with the full moon is so much ‘easier’ and she feels ‘clearer in her head and heart’. ‘I also feel more balanced in my overall energy levels and decision making throughout the entire month,’ shares Ashlee.
Now post menopausal, Anna recalls that she found a red moon cycle ‘easier to manage with the demands of mothering’. ‘The dark/new moon bleeds were “deeper” and harder to handle when I didn’t have the space to withdraw into the red tent,’ says Anna.
As the flip-side to a white moon cycle, the red moon cycle is said to reflect your darker femininity, and many women find that their shadow side comes to the fore during menstruation, bringing these aspects into the light to work with and heal.
‘I definitely became more intuitive. It was a very bipolar feeling as the earth’s energy was so high, yet I was wanting to be drawn inwards and more yin,’ says Nadia, reflecting on a period of time when she experienced successive red moon cycles.
The Dance Between the White and Red Moon Cycles
Throughout your fertile life cycle, you may find that you experience both patterns of bleeding, or that your cycle is in transition from one to the other (i.e., bleeding with the waxing or waning moon) depending on your priorities at the time.
Becoming more sensitive to the subtle differences in your cycle and how they parallel with the moon in its various phases allows you to recognise your changing needs and leads to deeper understanding, and can even be a source of comfort, as Danika shares:
‘Having realised I was in a red moon cycle, one of self discovery and healing, it gave me a feeling of peace. I had unknowingly been going through a phase of self discovery and was feeling a little lost. I felt more comfortable with exploring my own creativity while knowing I was somewhat supported by the moon and nature as well.’
Sister moon will be my guide
In your blue blue shadows I would hide
All good people asleep tonight
I'm all by myself in your silver light
I would gaze at your face the whole night through
I'd go out of my mind but for you
I'd go out of my mind but for you
—Sting, Lyrics from ‘Sister Moon’
Words by Ana Davis
Yoga Teacher specialising in yoga for women’s health, Director of Bliss Baby Yoga, author of Moving with the Moon: Yoga, Movement and Meditation for Every Phase of your Menstrual Cycle and Beyond
Francesca Naish, Natural Fertility, p.105
Buckley and Gottleib, Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation, p.207
Christiane Northrup M.D. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, p.104
Dr. Robert E. Svoboda , Ayurveda for Women: A Guide to Vitality and Health, p.2