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What’s the Moon Got to Do with Fertility?

pregnancy-test-1412563-1279x852Image via freeimages.com/Lesli Lundgren

by Laura Cipullo and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

My Aha Moment

Did you know that our menstrual cycles function in relation to the earth’s rotation around its own axis? That was the aha moment I recently had, writing my third and latest nutrition book, The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, published this past December. Even more fascinating is that our female cycles operate with the moon, so if you’ve ever heard your hippie friends say their periods follow the moon cycle, you should know they aren’t crazy. (Sleep and food cycles, controlling cravings or general increases of appetite, are in rhythm with the moon, as well.) What it all means is that menstruation and fertility are part of our natural biological rhythms. In honor of the full moon happening today — Saturday, 1/23/16 — here is your guide to fully understanding the moon cycle and menstruation.

 

Understanding The Moon Cycle

While the moon rotates around the earth, the earth is rotating on its axis and around the sun. This gives us a day, a month, and four seasons. The moon cycle has four phases lasting about seven days each. So think about it: How many days do you get your period for? Approximately seven days, once a month. Get the picture? Most women get their periods with the new moon! Isn’t that fascinating?

 

The Four Triggers

But sometimes, a body clock can get desynchronized living in this modern world, and that can put a wrench in our periods. Just like almost everything else, food, light, sleep and stress affect our menstrual cycles. Too little food and too much food both can cause our cycle to cease. A change in light exposure and sleep patterns can disrupt our body rhythms, causing an irregular period. (The body naturally needs eight hours of sleep and 16 hours of alertness, based on our hormonal cascades that aim for balance in the body.) Meanwhile, high levels of stress can increase cortisol, which can prevent your period — something you might have already noticed in your own hectic life. When the sleep hormone, melatonin, is rising, the stress hormone, cortisol, should be lowering, but when you constantly push yourself to the limit, working late nights–which causes stress and increases exposure to light — sleep becomes more difficult, as melatonin never gets released.

The Four Rhythms

You have a 24-hour cycle known as a circadian rhythm. Next, there is the dark/light, sleep/wake cycle that operates with the 24-hour cycle. The third rhythm is the ultradian cycle, controlling activities like eating, which operates many times within a 24-hour period. The fourth is the infradian cycle that operates one cycle over many 24-hour cycles, and this is the cycle of the moon and of course, your menstrual cycle.

Your Cycle Affects How You Eat, Too

Know that the increase in cravings before you get your period and that strong drive of hunger are part of the monthly cycle — your body preparing itself for menstruation. You burn more calories, so your body conveys the need for more calories with increased hunger and cravings. When this happens, check in with yourself. Identify which day and/or week of your menstrual cycle you are in and write it on your Women’s Health Body Clock Log. You can also get an app for your phone or iPad such as My Days. Once you start recording your cycle with respect to eating, hunger, energy and even mood, it will all make so much sense. This will help you predict food cravings, bellyaches and even bowel movements. Another great example of clock biology and clock nutrition at work!

 

Minding the Moon, Menstruation and Mood

Turn inwards and listen to the natural message your body is sending you. If your menstrual cycle is off, there is a good chance it too can be reset with balanced and healthy habits. Below, you’ll find The Women’s Health Body Clock “Rock the Clock” Log, with the addition of your very own menstrual and moon cycle log. Both will help you learn how your mind and body cycles with the moon. This is a great tool to identify how your cycle affects your food and mood, and vice versa. Your mom likely didn’t tell you this when you first started menstruating, so you’ll probably find this information eye-opening and relieving, as all my clients do.

 

Mindful Eating While Minding Your Menstrual Cycle

Adapated from the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet

 

 

 

Time

 

E,B,P

 

# 1-10

H/F

 

Feelings

Thoughts

Behaviors

 

Food Eaten

 

#1-10

H/F

 

Feelings

Thoughts Behaviors

 

 

GI Symptom if any

 

Reframe with Kindness

And Note Tool Used

Menstrual Cycle

Day _______

Circle how   food intake was affected by day of   my cycle:

 

Increase in hunger;

Neutral;

Decrease in hunger

Circle energy level:

 

Alert

Neutral

Fatigued

Circle or add in body sensations due to day of cycle:

 

Bloating

Cramps

Ovary twitching

____#BM’s

 

Recognize your menstrual cycle affected your mind/body and thus your mood and food intake.
Moon Cycle Day ________

Visit the US Navy’s Observatory Astronomical Application Department to identify the current Moon Phase. (Usno.Navy.Mil)

Sleep quality & hours;

Morning MUG of hot H2O

Time:

 

 

Brekkie

Time:

 

 

 

Mid-morning

Mindful Meter

Time:

 

 

 

 

Love Me Some Lunch

Time:

 

 

 

 

Tame Temptation

Time:

 

 

 

Pre-Game Snack

Time:

 

 

Project Self

Time:

 

The Dining Experience

Time:

 

 

Mind and Meditation

Time:

 

 

 

A Fertile Clock

As you may already know, if your menstrual cycle is not regular or perhaps has ceased, you are likely to have issues concerning fertility. Think about your quality of sleep. Are you producing enough melatonin? What is your stress level? Is your cortisol preventing you from cycling with the moon? An offset body clock, especially due to light (causing a lower melatonin) and stress (meaning higher levels of cortisol) are unfortunately not fertility-friendly. Not enough food or fat stores deplete estrogen and too much food means increased insulin, glucose and cortisol and thus a desynchronized body clock. (There is research supporting the return of menses and fertility with the use of insulin-sensitizing agents in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a health issue that causes women to have more difficulty conceiving and losing weight.) If you want to stay fertile, eat enough but don’t stuff yourself. Sleep more, stress less! Resetting, respecting and just generally rocking your body clock will be of great assistance when trying to increase your chances of conception.