The menstrual cycle is a natural function that should be normalized by society.
- Women (or anyone who menstruates) should be able to walk to the bathroom carrying a tampon or pad in public, without feeling pressured to hide it in shame and secrecy.
- Women should be allowed to discuss it in public.
- Men should not be grossed out about the topic.
- Pre-teens and teens in school should be educated about it more thoroughly.
- It should be understood and accepted by everyone.
It wasn’t until my last semester in college, my reproduction & physiology class, when I was properly taught about the menstrual cycle through institutionalized education. There was a lot of basic information, like the influx of specific hormones, that should have been first introduced to me all the way back in middle school. Everything I learned about my cycle during my prior school years, was the same old deal about the release of an egg and the shedding of the uterine wall. It was always a subject that was brought up in biology, but quickly glossed over, without welcoming any questions or discussion.
My life changed after reading “Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle.”
Around the time I was taking this reproduction class near the end of college, I bought myself this book. As soon as I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I would recommend it to anyone — young girls, adult women, post-menopausal women, and men of all ages. By understanding the cycle, you understand the flow of life.
Later on, I picked up, “Wild Power: Discover the Magic of Your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power” which was also quite life-changing. It truly sheds light on how spiritual the cycle is.
The greatest myth is that “the menstrual cycle” refers to the week of bleeding — but this is wrong — the cycle is ongoing and never-ending. Hormones shift back and forth for generally 28 days, and then it starts all over again.
Week 1 ~ Wintertime ~ New moon
Day 1 marks the first day of full-on bleeding. During the first one or two days, bleeding is much heavier. By the third and fourth, it’s a bit less. And usually by the sixth or seventh, it’s completely finished. There are increasingly many options to handle the blood. There’s disposable pads and tampons, reusable pads, reusable cups, leakproof underwear, and more. Although it might seem like a lot, not that much blood overall is lost during this week.
The most common myth is that phrase — when a woman is acting irritable — they say “she must be on her period,” referring to time of bleeding. This is incorrect. Really, you should replace it with “she must be PMSing.” Because when a woman is bleeding, she is actually at her calmest. She’s too tired to get mad. Her hormones are at their lowest and stablest point (with exception of steadily increasing follicle-stimulating hormone.)
In ancient societies, during bleeding time, a woman would spend it in isolation and deep meditation. In some cultures, she would be in a separate room from her family and eat meals alone. And in others, she would spend the entire time fasting, sleeping, and meditating. This was not due to shame or punishment. Rather, it was a gift for a woman to reconnect with her intuition and take a much-needed rest.
Today, in modern times, woman has no time to rest or step back from responsibilities. Jobs do not grant free vacation time for a woman’s period. And her family, most especially if she has children, still require her energy. On top of that, she must carry on as if nothing is happening — discreet trips to the bathroom, secret paranoia about leaking, smiling through excruciatingly painful cramps, and downing cups of coffee just to keep her eyes open.
Some women even feel too embarrassed to tell their partner, or their own female friends, that they’re bleeding. Often during this week, woman feels ugly and disgusting, like a monster, because society is conditioned to believe this perfectly natural bodily function is shameful — and so her confidence completely plummets.
Instead, woman should use this time to take advantage of her heightened intuition. If you pay attention, you can see how a woman looks more “out of it” while she’s on her period. This is not due to tiredness (maybe partially), but rather, her perspective is completely shifted inwards. She’s thinking about her emotions and feelings, she’s going beyond the physical and seeing reality for what it truly is, she’s transcending the material world and reconnecting with the spiritual. Illusions are shattered and the truth prevails.
Biologically speaking, she is infertile. And so, on a primal level, she generally feels no desire to reproduce or search for a mate. (Hence, no drama.)
Just like the new moon, this is a quiet and reflective time. This is wintertime, the time to be still and let go. This time can also be characterized as the transition from elderly woman to newborn child, the sliver between death and new life.
Week 2 ~ Springtime ~ Waxing moon
Day 7, bleeding should be completely finished. Hormones are fairly steady, with FSH now steadily decreasing, and estradiol beginning to rise.
This is the time in which woman feels refreshed and reborn, like a child. And just like the waxing moon, she is slowly leaving behind the spiritual world in order to reconnect with the physical world once again. This is a time of innocent curiosity, and playful caution. However, if she did not get enough rest during the prior week, this can be a very stressful and exhausting phase.
As her intuition slowly weakens and loses it power, her energy levels increase and she stops feeling so “out of it” — rather, more “into it.” Feeling much more active, a woman may suddenly decide to take on a new challenge, begin a new workout routine, or fill up her calendar with social events. She must be careful not to get carried away, to preserve her energy while she can, and to pace herself gently.
At this time, a woman feels extra sensitive. If she overexerts herself, she can easily put herself in a situation that makes her vulnerable to criticism. The best approach for this week is to try new things and slowly reintroduce herself back into the world, little by little. Overall, it’s a fairly calm and balanced week.
On a primal level, her fertility increases throughout the week. And so, her interest in a mate, and other romantic endeavors, becomes heightened — but since she still has some time to fertilize, there’s no rush or stress about it. So basically, she’s interested in romance again, but she’s not feeling pressured or competitive about it. She’s interested, but she’s chill.
Week 3 ~ Summertime ~ Full moon
Day 14 marks ovulation, the day hormones suddenly spike and reach their significant peak. This is a crazy and hectic 24-hour-period, when woman goes from zero to one-hundred real fast. It’s nearly impossible to tell the exact day of ovulation, without use of technology such as daily temperature-taking or ovulation kits. It is said that in ancient times, when woman was far more in touch with her body, that she knew on an intuitive level which day she ovulated. Although it’s assumed to be day 14, it often varies, especially if she is traveling or exposed to more/less light than usual. Sometimes there may be intense cramping, or light bleeding, around this point.
This can best be described as a woman’s “full moon” — she’s social, she’s active, and she’s looney. Woman is polarized from her new moon, putting her intuition at its absolute weakest. Instead, she is fully and one-hundred percent engaged in the physical world, the same way a non-menstruating man is. It’s challenging for her to see beyond the surface, or go beyond the physical plane — instead, she’s wrapped up in illusions, thinking straightforward and superficially.
Studies show that during the time of ovulation, a woman spends much more money than usual. This is yet another example of how she is more engaged in the physical world — she’s indulging in materialism, she’s going out with her friends to shop, she’s making more impulsive online purchases, and she’s feeling like money can buy happiness. Also, she’s burning a lot more calories now. In turn, her appetite increases, and she’s buying/eating more food.
Following the sudden spike of hormones, comes the sudden drop of hormones, followed by a slower and steadier increase — yeah, a lot going on during a seven-day period. When her hormones increase, just like a drug, she feels “high.” You may notice her become suddenly excited on her day of ovulation, followed by a short period of sadness, followed by a longer period of happiness.
Primally, this is her best time to conceive — so it’s natural for a woman to feel more excited about romance and super eager to find a mate. On top of that, mates look more attractive to her physically, and she feels more attractive herself. Her confidence is at its highest. Her competitiveness and impatience gradually increases.
This phase can be characterized as a teenager or young adult who’s eager to make friends, go to parties, and go dating. She makes some bad, impulsive decisions. She wants to be popular and feel loved. She’s dramatic, gossipy, unwise, egotistical, and overly passionate. She’s fertile, and she’ll throw a tantrum if she gets rejected, but also knows there’s a bit more time ahead of her to conceive.
Week 4 ~ Autumn ~ Waning moon
Day 21 and forward, hormones gradually decrease (with the exception of FSH.) And just like a drug, she’s going through a literal comedown. And she is experiencing actual withdraw symptoms. She’s irritable, cranky, bloated, cramping, breaking out, the list goes on and on.
The moon is waning, and she’s letting go of the physical world in order to reconnect with the spiritual. I like to call this “hell week” because it truly is a s***storm. Moving away from ovulation day, into the luteal phase, her intuition is coming back and she’s starting to realize how many horrible decisions she probably made — all those stupid impulse buys.
This week is most intense of all, and it can either turn a woman psychotic or powerfully bold — or both. Transcending away from the physical plane, she loses focus, comprehension, and alertness. Now, her intuition is strengthening. Throughout the week, as her energy levels decrease, she slowly cancels plans with friends in order to stay in and watch a sappy movie she can cry about, or journal about how awful her week has been. She turns to overeating in order to fill the void that her hormone withdrawal has created.
It would be most beneficial to use this time to workout and be physically active, as it would help release all her pent up frustrations and get that much-needed endorphin high — but with a steady decrease of energy, most likely she chooses to slouch in her bed all day long. Pushing past her tiredness is necessary — she needs to get all her chores and errands done before bleeding begins — and then she can rest!
Anxiety grows because she knows something is coming. In modern times, it’s so easy to “avoid” your period, so easy that most women don’t even know when they’re PMSing. When you track your cycle, and you’re fully aware, it’s so much easier to calm yourself — “this is normal, my symptoms are normal,” rather than “what the **** is wrong with me?!?!?!”
I can imagine that in ancient times, the end of a woman’s cycle involved deep preparation — setting aside the time and space to begin your menstrual retreat. Although in modern times we no longer have that luxury, we can still prepare by cleaning the house, buying extra groceries, and checking off our to-do lists in order to assure that “week 1” has as little responsibilities as possible.
Week 4 can be hell, but it can also be a beautiful storm. At this time, woman has more bravery, audacity, and passion — allowing her to make bold moves, stand up for herself, and put her foot down when it’s necessary. This is when woman draws boundaries, when she says “enough is enough!” to those who take advantage of her, when she seeks justice and preaches righteousness. Do not get in her way! If you respect her, she honors you; if you disrespect her, she rips you apart.
On a primal level, woman’s fertility and chances of fertilizing decreases with time. At this point, her body is screaming, “OMG, TIME IS TICKING!!! WE NEED TO GET PREGNANT, LIKE NOW!!! HURRY UP!!!” And so, at the start of week 4, she may act more desperate around mates, and ferociously vicious around competitors. By the end of week 4, she’s feeling resentful, hopeless, and depressed. It doesn’t matter if she consciously does not want to have (any or more) children — this is just her body speaking, which shows itself through her subconscious. Again, this is on a primal level, not an intellectual or rational one.
As the moon wanes, illusions fade, and the truth returns. She may struggle with the surrendering process, refusing to see things that she was too blinded and naive to acknowledge during weeks 2/3. She can no longer live in denial or hide from her genuine emotions.
Week 4 is characterized as an older adult or menopausal woman. She is growing wiser. Her confidence does not rely on her looks, but her inner strength. She is intimidating, powerful, and experienced. But she is also a little crazy, she’s not as “in touch” with the trends, instead she follows her own path.
The moon & the ancients
Now, you can see how the menstrual cycle relates to the moon — where phrases like “moon time” and “a woman’s moon” comes from. She is waxing and waning, retreating from the world and then rejoining with the world, inhaling and exhaling. She goes between truth and illusions, between internal and external, between stillness and action, between yin and yang.
It is believed in ancient times, before the invention of electricity and fake light, that a woman’s cycle was controlled by the light of the moon. Darker nights, around a new moon, would trigger bleeding — while lighter nights, around a full moon, would trigger ovulation. Some believe that all women who lived in the same area, menstruated together.
Personally, I find that easy to believe — considering it is proven that light has a direct affect on cycle length, as well as women who spend more time together end up syncing cycles. With electricity, use of computers and phones, and modern-day traveling, of course it makes sense that most women have unpredictable cycles that generally misalign with one another.
The ancients, as well as modern-day astrology followers, believe that the moon has a direct affect on us — women, men, animals, even plants, and of course the tides! Data shows that more crimes are committed during a full moon — which can easily relate to how the full moon makes us crazier and more energized. And so, the moon affects us all — the new moon making us feel more withdrawn, calm, and wise; and the full moon making us feel more impulsive, social, and active.
White moon vs. red moon
So how would the effects of the moon relate to a woman’s menstrual cycle?
A white moon cycle is when a woman’s menstrual cycle aligns perfectly with the moon cycle — her new moon (bleeding) is during the new moon; her full moon (ovulation) is during the full moon. In this way, she is more connected with the world. She is popular, favored, well-mannered, and beloved by society and authority. This is a highly harmonious alignment.
It is said that a woman with a white cycle is someone who is hoping to have children — of course that is not always the case. If not children, this is someone who wants to create — a business, a project, a promotion, a new career path, etc. This cycle brings luck in material abundance.
A red moon cycle is when a woman’s menstrual cycle is opposite of the moon cycle. It is said that in medieval times, a woman with a red moon cycle was chastised by society, looked down on by authority, and prosecuted as a “witch.” Although this type of cycle is anything but harmonious, it is incredibly powerful. It’s not necessarily bad, in contrast it can be a blessing.
Red moon cycles relate to a priestess, a healer, a medicine practitioner. This may serve as a sign that her spirit is not currently seeking children or any romance, that she is being called towards a higher spiritual calling.
Throughout a woman’s life (at least in modern times), she will shift back and forth between white moons and red moons, so these are very flexible descriptions. If you are someone who menstruates, ask yourself if your cycle aligns with the moon or not (it doesn’t have to line up perfectly, but somewhat close.) And then reflect on whether your “white moon” or “red moon” description fits you at the moment.