The Moon and Your Menstrual Cycle
With both the spooky blue moon approaching October 31st and my period most likely arriving on the same day (thank you tracking apps), I couldn't help but wonder— like the moon controls the tides, does the moon also control my period? *insert GIF of Carrie Bradshaw typing here*
Throughout history, there have been cultures and civilizations that believed there's a relationship between the phases of the moon (aka the lunar cycle) and the phases of a menstrual cycle. There’s even evidence that suggests this belief goes as far back as Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. The words menstruation and menses come from the Latin and Greek words that mean month (mensis) and moon (mene) after all.
A big reason it was so widely accepted for so long is the fact that both cycles are approximately 28 days long. BBC’s Science Focus also suggests Charles Darwin perpetuated this belief, claiming it proved our ancestors lived near the ocean and needed to sync with the tides. A survival WAP if you will.
Since then, there’s been some more extensive research that explores the link between the moon cycle and the human menstrual cycle. Let’s get into it.
Does the Moon Affect my Menstrual Cycle?
Sorry witches—ultimately, no! According to recent studies, there’s actually no direct correlation between the phases of the moon or the lunar month and human menstrual cycles. While it’s true the moon’s gravitational pull is powerful enough to control the ocean’s tides, there’s no scientific evidence that proves that the moon can affect the ebb and flow of your cycle.
Based on research conducted by Clue, your menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle may indeed link up, but only because your cycle length is so similar. The fact both cycles are pretty much the same length is interesting though, and there are a few theories about that as well. One of the main beliefs is that moon light can have an impact on some of our biological processes. It’s not a crazy theory as far as theories go— as we know that light can have an impact on people’s bodies. One of Clue’s recent studies demonstrates that some people who work night shifts are more likely to have irregular cycles, which is possibly due to light exposure.
However, because everyone’s cycle is different (and everyone’s light sensitivity is different too), there isn’t a consistent conclusion. And while there’s no direct link between the moon and your menstrual cycle, that doesn’t mean it can't be significant to you.
The Significance of the Moon Cycle
Ancient peoples weren't the only ones connecting the moon and menstrual cycles. To this day, many people still find comfort, empowerment, and spiritual meaning by mapping their cycles to the moon phases.
This often plays off the traditional beliefs and lore that ovulation and fertility are linked to a full moon. It’s hard to know how this idea started, but it’s sometimes attributed to an ancient Assyrian astrological text that suggested that women are fertile during certain phases of the moon.
It can also feel really powerful knowing that so many ancient mythologies have female lunar deities. For example the Greek goddess Selene, the Roman goddess Luna, and the Chinese goddess Chang'e are all rulers of the moon.
Scientifically Proven Factors That Affect Your Cycle
While the moon may not be one of them, there are a ton of other scientifically proven factors that can affect your cycle. Changes in your cycle happen all the time because the process is super delicate— so here some things that can influence your flow. If you have questions about any of these, make sure you consult your doctor (and not the stars):
- Lifestyle factors including stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and diet.
- Pregnancy obviously stops your monthly cycle as fertilization and implantation stop your period. If you think you’re pregnant, visit your doctor for a check-up!
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that can lead to infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods.
- Uterine fibroids or polyps are benign growths that can cause heavy bleeding and disrupt your cycle and can be super painful.
- Birth control & other medications interrupt your natural menstrual cycle in order to prevent pregnancy (that’s their main purpose).
- Perimenopause happens just before menopause (when periods stop completely) and is usually characterized by an irregular menstrual cycle as periods gradually stop. Menopause is diagnosed when you go 12 months without a period.
To Infinity and Beyond
While there's no clear scientific explanation or proof, this doesn’t negate the fact that many people who get periods find value in tying their cycles to nature.
It’s no wonder that so many cultures and civilizations found strength and comfort in ritualizing the moon's cyclical nature. So, don’t forget to establish your own personal rituals too. Whether that means following the lunar cycle in relation to your period or simply taking a hot bath or meditating to combat the emotional and physical symptoms of PMS— a ritual of any kind is always comforting.
You can read all the peer-reviewed journals in the world but, at the end of the day, you know what your mind and body needs at any given time. So, when it comes to you and your menstrual cycle, you do you (boo 👻 )!