In the soft glow of a waxing moon, humans have long found inspiration in the ethereal beauty of our celestial companion. The moon, in its enigmatic cycle, has been a companion to Earth, influencing tides with an invisible, yet undeniable pull. Equally mystical and perhaps as ancient in human consciousness, are the rhythms of menstrual cycles. With an average length mirroring the lunar cycle’s 29.5 days, it's tempting to muse – is this synchrony mere coincidence or a subtle cosmic connection?
While the moon's influence over the vast oceans is a scientific fact, the question of its sway on menstrual cycles invites us to explore with a blend of wonder and empirical scrutiny. While modern science has given a resounding “no” in a response to the question, “are menstrual cycles influenced by the moon, a new Swedish study — The menstrual cycle is influenced by weekly and lunar rhythms — suggests otherwise. Let’s dig into the mystery, the myth, and science as we unravel how the moon influences periods.
Ancient Menstrual Mysteries Have Modern Mystique
From ancient Greece to modern times, the mystique of the moon and its perceived connection with female bodies have woven a tapestry of beliefs and interpretations. Aristotle, in the 4th century BCE, viewed the menstrual cycle through the lens of celestial influences, stating that menstruation naturally occurs during the waning moon, attributing this timing to a colder and more humid environment caused by the moon's phases. This age-old parallel has led some women to refer to their periods as "moon cycles," a term that resonates with the spiritual and sacred aspects historically attributed to menstruation.
In various cultures, moontimes have been revered as spiritual archetypes symbolizing rebirth and regeneration, often tied to rituals and ceremonies.
Different lunar phases during menstruation have been given specific names, each with its unique symbolism:
Red Moon Cycle: where menstruation aligns with the full moon and ovulation with the new moon, is associated with leadership and healing roles.
White Moon Cycle: bleeding during the new moon and ovulating during the full moon, is seen as a reflection of natural fertility and the earth's cycles.
Pink Moon Cycle: menstruation during the waxing moon and ovulation during the waning moon, symbolizes transformation and a journey toward wholeness.
Purple Moon Cycle: where bleeding occurs in the waning moon and ovulation in the waxing moon, is interpreted as a time for peace, rest, and reflection.
These interpretations extend beyond mere symbolism; they are linked to the concept of cycle syncing, where lifestyle choices are adjusted according to the phases of your menstrual cycle, echoing the rhythmic patterns of the lunar cycle. This practice underscores a deep-rooted belief in the interconnectedness of the natural world and human biology, a thread that continues to intrigue and inspire to this day.
But is there any science to this?
The Old Science and Skepticism
Traditionally, science has approached the moon-menstruation connection with skepticism. Menstrual cycles, governed by complex hormonal interplays within the body, seemed far removed from the gravitational forces that guide the moon. Research has been inconclusive, often punctuated with more questions than answers. Critics have noted that menstrual cycles can be pretty different from person to person and don't always match up neatly with the moon's regular phases. For a long time, science, which focuses on how hormones control the menstrual cycle, mostly thought of the moon's influence as more of a myth or cultural idea rather than something physical or real.
The New Study: A Lunar Rhythm in Menstrual Cycles?
But as with all mysteries, curiosity persists.
In 2016, the period-tracking app Clue commissioned a study that analyzed over 7.5 million menstrual cycles. While the study concluded that periods likely do not sync with the lunar cycle, a groundbreaking new menstrual moon study by René Ecochard and colleagues, published in January 2024, sheds new light on this age-old question.
Spanning three years and involving over 35,000 women, the study's scale is as impressive as its findings. The researchers uncovered a circaseptan (7-day) rhythm in menstruation, most pronounced in cycles lasting 27 to 29 days, with menstrual onset peaking on Thursdays and Fridays. This weekly pattern, consistent across ages, seasons, and lunar phases, suggests an intrinsic rhythm to menstrual cycles that aligns subtly with the week.
In other words, periods are less likely to begin when the moon is in a waxing crescent and first quarter phase and are more likely to begin on a Thursday or Friday.
The study also identified a circalunar rhythm, though it's less pronounced than the circaseptan one. This rhythm varies with the seasons, pointing to a connection between our biology and the lunar cycle. All of this suggests that while the moon’s influence on menstruation is not as commanding as its pull on the oceans, it is present – a gentle, perhaps ancient rhythm that echoes in the background of women’s reproductive cycles.
Implications and Empowering Perspectives
What does this mean for our understanding of menstruation? First, it invites a broader view of menstrual cycles, not as isolated biological processes but as phenomena potentially synchronized with natural rhythms. It empowers us with a new narrative – one where our bodies do resonate, however faintly, with the celestial.
For scientists, this opens up new avenues of research. How does this lunar connection manifest biologically? What mechanisms underlie the subtle synchronization? For women, it could mean a reconnection with natural cycles, a way to understand their bodies in harmony with the universe.
If you’re curious about how your period lines up with the moon, track your menstruation using a chart or use an app like Moody Month, which includes moon phases. While understanding your period in relation to the moon is intriguing, keep in mind that what matters most is that you’re experiencing a cycle that is consistent for you, since a fluctuating cycle may be symptomatic of menstrual issues, such as endometriosis or PCOS.
A Blend of Wonder and Science
This new study, bridging science and the mystique of lunar cycles, reminds us that wonder and empirical inquiry can coexist. In understanding menstrual cycles, we are not just unraveling biological mechanisms but also exploring a connection that has captivated human imagination since time immemorial. Like the waxing and waning of the moon, our quest for knowledge is an ever-evolving journey, illuminated by the light of science and the glow of enduring wonder.