Have you ever been drawn out of your home into the night by a full moon, gazing lustfully at her radiant brilliance? Or have you observed a change in your mood as you enter menopause that mysteriously coincides with the waxing and waning of the moon? These lunar and hormonal relationships may be intriguing, but there is more to them than simply folklore and old wives’ tales. The connections between lunar cycles, hormones, and menopause are experiencing a rebirth of interest in our culture today.
“A wise woman keeps a close eye on her moon cycle as she does her menstrual cycle; for each holds wisdom, power and surprising insights into her innate femininity.”
It’s important to establish one crucial truth before we explore the fascinating link between the lunar cycles and hormones: The human body, particularly the female body, is more than simply a physical structure; it is a dynamic, complicated system that is affected by a variety of factors, including culture, genetics, the environment, and yes, even moon rhythms.
Exploring the Historical Significance of Lunar Phases
For our ancestors, the night sky’s luminaries performed a considerably more significant role than simply being a pinprick in a dark velvet blanket. The moon played a substantial role in their way of life, whether it was the harvest moon signalling the start of the harvest season or the hunter’s moon illuminating the fall nights with its silvery brilliance.
But why did ancient cultures place such a high value on this heavenly glow-ball? Although it might seem a little crazy, we don’t need to scratch too far beneath the surface to reveal an intriguing link to biology, our way of life, and our hormones. Think of gardeners planting to the moon cycle and fishermen and surfers eager to ride the waves according to the waxing and waning of the moon.
“The moon does not simply disappear when we are not looking at it.” – Albert Einstein
According to ancient cultures, “cycles of the moon had profound effects on human behaviour.” This idea of the cyclic effects of nature was more evident when humans were more connected with our environment, when we ploughed the soil and spent time living with nature and IN nature. In the past, the moon’s phases were closely linked to many facets of life, such as fertility, hormonal balance, and even menopause.
A Greek Full Moon
The ancient Greeks were particularly fascinated by the moon. They closely aligned their month count to lunar cycles – a nod towards the notable similarity between the moon cycle duration (about 29.5 days) and the average menstrual cycle (about 28 days).
The term ‘menstruation’ is derived from ‘menses’, the Latin word for month, derived from the Greek word ‘mene’ meaning moon. The relationship between the moon, menstrual cycles and hormones is likely not coincidental.
But what about menopause? According to ancient folklore, the onset of menopause was believed to be ‘the body’s transition from a monthly lunar cycle to the grander cycle of the moon, namely the Metonic cycle’. Essentially, menopause is viewed as an ‘ascension to the wider rhythm of the cosmos‘ – a spiritual and biological transformation triggered by the moon.
The Moon-Maia Mythology
Not only the ancient Greeks were smitten by the moon. The Mayans viewed the moon as a strong feminine energy associated with menstruation and reproduction. They also equated the moon with the goddess “Ix Chel,” who was revered for her healing and fertility. Again, we circle back to the powerful influence of the moon on hormonal balance in women.
It is well-known that the moon cycle and hormonal changes have a long-standing connection. Even now, science is illuminating the influence of the moon on our hormones. But how can the moon possibly affect hormones?
Moon Phases and the Endocrine System
A growing body of evidence suggests that the moon phase you were born in could affect your hormone levels and behaviour throughout your life. And lunar cycles influence your circadian rhythm – your body’s natural clock.
A study conducted in 2013 found a connection between moon phases and melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. ¹
The pineal gland, a tiny endocrine gland in the brain, controls the sleep-wake cycle and secretes the hormone melatonin, essential for sleep. Much like the waves on the beach, the pineal gland is impacted by the moon’s gravitational pull.
The pineal gland is thought to control several hormones (not just melatonin) and circadian rhythms. Intriguingly, the theory that the moon’s gravitational force might affect the pineal gland and, as a result, the levels of other endocrine hormones furthers the hypotheses regarding the full moon’s impact on other hormones, too – serotonin, oestrogen and progesterone.
This “lunar effect” is supposed to be more noticeable on nights with a full moon. On these nights, melatonin production declines, causing sleep difficulties in some people. And we all inherently know that some people are more susceptible to the influences of the full moon, and these days, we’re not talking about werewolves and vampires.
The Moon-Menopause Matrix
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the moon and a woman’s menstrual cycles are similar. Nature certainly appears to enjoy a good bit of symmetry. However, the variation in hormone levels when entering into perimenopause might feel like a roller coaster ride, and the nature of your rhythm might become quite erratic.
The moon’s gravitational pull may interfere with specific hormonal pathways, altering hormone release and production. Some studies suggest that oestrogen and progesterone levels may experience slight fluctuations during the full moon. Although these variations are generally considered within the ‘normal range’, it’s wise to understand that even with these small fluctuations, intense menopausal sensations can indeed be experienced by some women.
While we’ve discussed the full moon’s influence on hormones – sleep hormones and sex hormones, another influence of the full moon is related to the gravitational pull. Like the oceans, our bodies can experience waves of fluid changes – bloating or swelling of the breasts and ankles. While scientific studies may not back this, this is another one of the possible hormonal influences of the full moon on our bodies.
Research is starting to confirm that there is indeed a correlation between lunar cycles and menopausal symptoms. ² But I wonder how much ‘evidence’ we need to confirm the effects of the moon on hormones.
Embracing Wisdom of the Full Moon
Menopause is a complex biological process influenced by various factors, including age, genetics, overall health, the influence of our mental/emotional well-being, society’s perception of menopause and of course, the lunar cycles.
As we move towards a deeper (re)connection with Mother Nature, we can begin to experience our place in nature and the cycle of life and, with this, relish the healing and creative energy of the full moon.
Although some might need more concrete scientific evidence to suggest that there is indeed a link between the full moon and hormones, the key is to remember that perimenopause is a time of transition and change. Our connection with the cycles of the moon goes back to before history; I encourage you to use her healing power to strengthen your journey through menopause.
Many free phone apps will let you know when it’s the next full moon so you can plan ahead for the moon cycles. The full moon can be an excellent time to journal your thoughts, write about your goals and passions and reconnect with nature. Make sure you have some nourishing snacks on hand, some cosy and comfortable clothing and some of your favourite tools for expressing your creativity.
If you have some experiences associated with your menopausal transition and the lunar cycles, I would love to hear from you.
¹ Cajochen, C., Altanay-Ekici, S., Münch, M., Frey, S., Knoblauch, V., & Wirz-Justice, A. (2013). Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep. Current Biology, 23(15), 1485-1488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029Cajochen, C., Altanay-Ekici, S., Münch, M., Frey, S., Knoblauch, V., & Wirz-Justice, A. (2013). Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep. Current Biology, 23(15), 1485-1488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029
² Sung Ping Law (1986) The Regulation of Menstrual Cycle and its Relationship to the Moon, Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 65:1, 45-48, DOI: 10.3109/00016348609158228
The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking action based on this article. While the author uses their best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises regarding the information’s accuracy, reliability or completeness. If you rely on any information in this article, you do so at your own risk.