Moon time. My time. Mystery time. What does menstruation mean to you? What does it feel like in your body? Years ago, the relationship I had with my period was rough and characterized by disdain and irritation. It was a time where I experienced heavy PMS symptoms, and my periods were quite painful. I would curl up in bed, probably cry and wish for it to be over soon.
Over the past year I’ve really started to love and even crave my period. I feel like a goddess when it comes with the life giving potential flowing through me. It’s an incredible opportunity to reconnect with my femininity and to experience myself as a manifestation of that potential. My PMS symptoms are mostly gone, so I can sit back and really enjoy the experience. I do more meditation and journalling, and find myself synced up with the moon each month. In the fall and winter, I bleed with the new moon, whereas in spring and summer I bleed on the full moons. This change happens in fall and spring, and in those two months I’ll get two periods in the month to get me synced up with either the full/new moon. This is the magic and nature of the womb. Menstruation is an experience of PLEASURE. The pleasure, honour, and core of womanhood.
The Menstrual Cycle
A lot of women I speak to don’t actually know much about their periods, or have poor relationships to their cycle. Many of their (male) partners, know even less or are pretty unsupportive. I’ve been pretty blessed with a partner who happily takes part in my period. He was the one who came home with a diva cup for me one day, and had already watched a youtube video on how to insert and take it out. He’s felt my menstrual blood during intercourse, and been there to rub my back and bring me tea when I was laying low. I’ve had partners in the past who would have been revolted at that thought, and in honesty, I’ve also hidden away my periods from such partners because I felt dirty, ashamed, or embarrassed. I can empathize with the women who feel discomfort when they think of their menstrual cycle, but the reality is that an intimacy with your period can truly open you up to a world of personal power, healing, and transformation.
Communication between the pituitary and hypothalamus signals the start of the menstrual cycle and plays into the amount of female hormones produced by the pituitary, which then stimulate the ovaries to produce proper amounts of estrogen and progesterone. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates estrogen, which shapes secondary sex characteristics (rounder breasts, pubic hair, feminine voice, broad hips) and the first half of the cycle. Have you noticed how your face, body shape, and perspectives change over the month? Estrogen climbs to its highest around day 14 and when balanced, a woman feels in control, feminine, creative, and outgoing, while imbalance may cause PMS systems, fibroid tumours, infertility, and inability to control emotions.
When the production of progesterone increases around days 15 and 16, it’s an indication of fertility and ovulation. Balanced progesterone levels causes inner reflection, intuition, and dream awareness, whereas imbalanced levels can cause depression, lethargy, and feeling sexually unappealing. This is the time where you might start to experience symptoms of PMS, including swollen or tender breasts, moodiness, bloating, as well as vaginal discharge. The egg leaves ovary and travels to the uterus, which at the same time is being flooded with nourishment from the increased progesterone; a thick mucus covers the cervix to keep bacteria out.
I have to stop and marvel at the complexity of the physical body, and what perfect balance is achieved without us having to think about it at all! If pregnancy doesn’t occur both progesterone and estrogen levels drop down again, the uterine lining dissolves, and the endometrium is shed as menstrual blood, and you’re back to day 1.
This all happens (or is supposed to) in a cycle of 28 days, closely linked to the transit of the moon (28 1/2 days), and the old calendars of 28 days. We can look to the moon and understand how our own fullness at the time of ovulation is a mirror of the moon bursting with vitality and luminosity. In the time of our menstruation, when we feel a greater need to go inward and find more rest and introspection, we can relate to the darkness and shadow of the new moon.
Days 1-5 Menstruation • New Moon • Winter • Crone
Symbolism: Dark, mysterious
Menstrual energy: Inward, nourishing, renewal, healing, creative renewal, intuitive creativity, new ideas, resting, reflection, inner processing, passivity, death
Moon energy: New beginnings, rebirth, instinctive
Days 6-14 After-bleed phase • Waxing Moon • Spring • Maiden
Symbolism: New beginnings, new processes and growth
Menstrual energy: Inward, nourishing energy, mental creativity, learning, clarity, concentration, structural thinking, increasing conscious awareness, dynamic, inspiration to action
Moon energy: Crisis of consciousness, reorientation
Days 15-17 Ovulation • Full Moon • Summer • Mother
Symbolism: Abundance, power, vitality, fire
Menstrual energy: Outward, world-nourishing, transformational, conscious reasoning, communication, empathy, teamwork, creativity, expression, sensual creativity, connection, growth
Moon energy: Fulfillment, consumption, illumination, healing, clarity
Days 18-28 Premenstrual • Waning Moon • Fall • Enchantress/Wild Woman
Symbolism: Maturity and harvest, persistence
Menstrual energy: Problem solving, assertive, clarification, listening to your inner needs, disintegration
Moon energy: Crisis of action, breaking bindings in order to change
Though our deep connection to the moon has diminished over time, there’s an intrinsic alignment with its cycle that a woman can’t deny. Just look up at the full moon bursting with brightness and potential, and you can feel its pull within. One of the most natural ways a woman used to sync up with the moon would be to sit under the light of the new moon, creating the necessary rhythm to then bleed as the lunar cycle faded into darkness. Disconnection from our cycles and intense imbalance is an issue many women are facing today. Want to learn more? Check out Part 2 of Period Pleasure: Disconnection & Reconnection.