Updated: Jul 9, 2022
Erin Kloster, Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by Dana Eshelman, MS, RDN
Where did the syncing of the moon cycles with the females menstrual cycles come from?
There are many spiritual and cultural traditions that link the full moon and the menstrual cycle. In Ancient Greece, physicians believed the moon and monthly menstruation were linked. In Indigenous cultures, menses was a time to rest and reflect to some and a time of strength to others. In Buddhist traditions, the link between the lunar and menstrual cycle indicated health.
It is thought that when your menstrual cycle is in sync with the lunar cycle, you will menstruate around the new moon and ovulate during the full moon. Pretty cool right?!
One week we may experience a decline in our energy levels and mood, and the next we may feel on top of the world. Obviously, many factors are at play when it comes to menstruation, hormones, mood, and energy levels, and the lunar cycle has not been proven impact these.
However, here are some ways the lunar cycle and our menstrual cycle, mood, and energy levels can have commonalities and how you can support yourself during each phase:
Menstrual phase: The new moon is the first phase of the lunar cycle. When a woman’s cycle is in sync with the lunar cycle, menstruation is thought to occur during this phase. Similar to how the menstrual phase is essentially a new beginning for us women, the new moon also signifies a new beginning, so it’s no coincidence that the two can occur simultaneously. This phase is oftentimes thought of as the perfect time to create space for yourself to get some much-needed downtime. During this phase you might feel tired and worn down. Honor your body and allow yourself to rest. Incorporating meditation, journaling or trying to get in some extra sleep are all great ways to support yourself during this phase of the lunar cycle and menstruation.
During the menstrual phase estrogen is on the rise, so it’s also an important time to incorporate foods into your diet to help support this phase of menstruation. Increasing your intake of whole foods and decreasing the amount of fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and salty foods can be very beneficial during this period. Drinking soothing tea like chamomile is also beneficial to help combat those painful cramps that tend to rear their ugly head during this phase.
Follicular phase: As we transition into the first quarter moon phase, is it thought this is when women begin to enter the follicular phase of menstruation. This phase might have you cultivating new ideas and feel a heightened sense of motivation. You might start to feel more like yourself and notice an improvement in your overall mood and energy levels. This is a great time to set intentions and goals for the rest of the month or start a new project.
Estrogen is still high in this phase so incorporating foods that will help metabolize estrogen is a wonderful way to support yourself during this phase. Try eating more fermented foods like kimchi, broccoli sprouts and sauerkraut and make sure to stay hydrated. This is also a great time to get in more exercise as your energy levels begin to increase.
Ovulation: Transitioning to the full moon phase is thought of as the ovulation period during the menstrual cycle. The full moon is believed to be the time when our creative, social and physical energies are at their highest which makes it an ideal time to connect and socialize with friends and family. You may be feeling physically stronger and have a higher urge to exercise, making it a great time to get in those high intensity workouts or start training for a race. An increase in libido is also common during this phase and may have you feeling more confident and in need of some extra TLC. Honor your body and feelings and do whatever makes you feel your best!
With your estrogen at an all-time high during this phase of menstruation, you should try eating more foods to help support your liver. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds. They pack incredible health benefits and including anti-aging properties and protection from environmental toxins which are known to have an impact on hormones. It’s also important not to neglect sleep during this period. With your energy levels being highest during this phase, you may feel a sense of restlessness and a need to get things done. It’s important to still allow yourself to get adequate sleep and rest to help support your hormones.
4. Luteal Phase: As we enter the last quarter moon phase it is thought that this is when the luteal phase of menstruation occurs. During this phase we may be feeling more sensitive and emotionally drained. You might notice you are having more mood swings and feeling more sad, depressed, or anxious during this phase which is totally normal. This is a good time to take some extra time to yourself and honor your emotions. Turning to meditation to help calm anxiety is a great way to support yourself during this phase. Keeping a gratitude journal, reading, yoga, and getting outside in nature are additional ways to help support your body and emotional health during this phase.
Estrogen and progesterone both surge and then wane during this period. Try eating more foods that will produce serotonin, like leafy greens, quinoa, and buckwheat. You will also want to focus on magnesium-rich foods that fight fatigue and low libido, like dark chocolate, spinach, and pumpkin seeds. It’s also common to experience fatigue and low energy levels during this phase. Listen to your body and make sure that you are to get plenty of rest during this time so that your body can relax and rejuvenate.
Nevertheless, menses syncing with the lunar cycle is a controversial topic and is not proven in modern day research (1). Helfrich- Förster explains the roots of this theory developed when "the moon was much closer to earth, so the forces of the moon on Earth were much larger." In our current lifestyles, there has been a change around reproductive physiology and behavior (1).
The variances in energy, mood, and recommended practices during each phase of menses can still be used to help guide you in your cycle and create a balance.
1. C. Helfrich- Förster et al., “Women temporarily synchronize their menstrual cycles with the luminance and gravimetric cycles of the Moon,” Science Advances, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abe1358, 2021.