Cramps, moodiness, cravings, weeping at the drop of a hat -- if you're a woman in her reproductive years, you know the agony of the menstrual drill. Our cycle's symptoms vary over the course of our lifetimes -- between puberty and menopause. But one thing that’s a given about "Aunt Flo", she is invariably known to be less than fun.
Even if you have the ideal 28-day cycle and ovulate like clockwork, there's no guarantee your body is going to function with such ease forever. And face it: most women suffer at least a bit each month, their symptoms running from mild to severe.
The ancients called Aunt Flo "Moon Time" because, like a woman's cycle, the Moon runs on a 29.5 day schedule, slightly shorter than the 30- or 31-day month on our (Gregorian) calendar.
Aside from downing Advil, watching rom-coms, and eating a full tub of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, what can you do about what some people call "The Curse"? Start by not calling it by ugly names; the more you dread your period, the harder it will be.
One of the keys to synching up with the cycles of the Moon is to embrace your entire cycle -- from the follicular phase to ovulation to the luteal phase and, yes, even the days when you're bleeding. It's normal -- and natural -- as natural as the waxing and waning of La Luna in the sky.
Back in the days before we had electric lights, it was very common for many women to cycle with the Moon, ovulating at the full Moon and bleeding at the new Moon. Our circadian rhythms were attuned to the lunar rhythms, without much effort.
Even though we no longer rise when the Sun does and sleep when it sets, we can attune our bodies back to the Moon's healthy cycles. According to Christiane Northrup, MD, you bleed more heavily at the full Moon, so as you become aware of your own cycle, you'll try to gently adjust your body to ovulate with the full Moon, and bleed at the new Moon.
The first step is to figure out when you ovulate. Do you know? If you're one of those lucky 28-day gals, you most likely ovulate between day 13 and 16. Download a period-tracking app if you don't already have one, and begin noting when you bleed.
Generally, ovulation occurs 14 days before the period begins, but if your cycle is irregular, it's hard to pin this down. That's why it's wise to learn the various symptoms of ovulation -- from basal body temperature to other indicators like vaginal mucus; it's not as complicated as it sounds. You'll eventually realize that your creativity peaks near ovulation -- just like your body -- your mind is more fertile.
While you're getting more in tune with your own body's rhythms, begin to note of when the Moon is new and when it's growing full, which happens every two weeks. You can check in with Astrology.com or get a pocket ephemeris (an astrology calendar) in order to keep track of the lunar phases.
If it seems like you're not bleeding or ovulating near (within 3 to 5 days) of either the new or full Moon, try to spend more time in the moonlight, especially on the nights of new and full Moons. Go outside, at least for a half hour, when the Moon rises, and gaze at it if possible. If the weather is inclement, just try to tune in to the Moon’s energy -- you know it's up there, even if you can't see it clearly.
When you're outside, under the stars, feeling the energy of the Moon, close your eyes and meditate. Tell your body to sync up to the rhythms of the Moon. On those evenings, try to go to sleep earlier and wake earlier as well, avoiding artificial light and the flickering of the TV or blue light of your mobile devices. Make sure your bedroom is as dark as can be, except for a sliver of moonlight.
Synching your cycle with the Moon can take months, so be patient, and note any changes that occur near the beginning of each season (at the equinoxes and solstices) when your body can shift. The benefits of melding your cycle with the lunar cycle are many: an overall lower level of stress, increased balance, less hyper hormones and easier periods in general.
Being in tune with the Moon allows you to remain deeply in tune with your body, helping with creativity, fertility and overall happiness. Even though you're living in the 21st century, you can have this direct connection to nature, just like ancient women did -- so why not give it a try?