Use the moon to have a mindful moment with your body (and maybe your partner).

By AnnaMarie Houlis
January 15, 2020

Ah, the mystical moon. Even though admittedly, there's no clear-cut science supporting the theory, many sexperts and astrologers alike believe that because the moon controls the tides and 60 percent of the human body is water, the moon may influence human behavior.

Sure, it may seem a bit woo-woo, but leaning into the magic of this celestial body may provide insight into your body and sex life—or, at the very least, inspire your next wave of intentional and sensual self-care.

The Lunar Cycle & Menstrual Syncing

First, what is the lunar cycle (aka moon cycle)? The moon's cycle around the Earth flows through nine phases, each reflecting varying degrees of light: new, crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, disseminating, third quarter, balsamic, and dark.

The phases from the new to full moon comprise the waxing moon—the ascending half of the cycle when the moon moves away from the sun. The phases from full to dark comprise the waning moon—the descending half of the cycle when the moon returns to the sun.

Research hints that the lunar cycle may influence hormonal changes in women and that, for this reason, the lunar and menstrual phases can sync up with each other. After all, the average menstrual cycle is about 26 to 35 days, and the lunar cycle is 29.5 days, so it's very possible for your cycle to align with the moon. If the moon's phases are linked to your menstrual cycle, they can, in turn, be linked to changes in your sexual desires and libido. Finding out how can help you make decisions and cultivate experiences to enhance your sex life.

"It's less about the moon phase affecting your day-to-day sex life, but more about choosing to use the [lunar cycle] to create and enjoy a sacred ritual that can make you feel more connected, intimate, or closer to your beloved," says Elise Carr, M.A., psychological and spiritual council, as well as the host of the Sacred Guidance with StellaMuse podcast.

To find out if you're synced, you can use an app like the My Moontime period tracker. (These other period tracking apps can help you monitor your cycle too.) Note: While syncing up with the moon can make you feel even more connected to the celestial world, don't click away if you're not menstrually aligned with the moon. Learning more about the moon's phases and then developing rituals surrounding those phases can still empower you to feel more in touch with your body and lead a more fulfilling sex life—or at least have some fun with a new, mindful self-care practice. (Related: Can "Moon Circles" Help You Feel More Fulfilled?)

1. The New Moon

Explore your curiosities while respecting your personal boundaries.

During the new moon, the moon appears black, since it passes by the Earth on the same side as the sun, meaning its unilluminated side faces Earth. Studies suggest that more women menstruate during this time in the lunar cycle (and then ovulate during the full moon) than at any other time in the lunar cycle.

This may be because, as science suggests, light suppresses your melatonin levels. Melatonin—a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle—can impact your menstrual cycle as well. So, when the sky is at its absolute darkest during the new moon, your melatonin levels may drop, and this may be tied to the start of menstruation. (Of course, the sky gets dark every night, so the lesser light associated with the new moon may not affect all women.)

"When your melatonin levels drop—say, when the moon appears darkest, with less sunlight coming to Earth—you can see a drop in energy, in hormones potentially shifting, and menstrual cycles being affected," explains Carr.

The new moon is a key time for "release, introspection, and deep listening," according to Alyssa Aparicio, a "lunar radiance consultant" who teaches women how to tap into their intuitions and develop rituals to embrace their natural flow. (Related: I Finally Got a Natal Chart Reading and Now Everything Makes Sense)

"Many women experience turn-on during [menstruation], as testosterone levels rise slightly, and blood flow can stimulate the reproductive organs and make them more sensitive to stimulation," she explains. "On the flip side, many women experience this as a time they would prefer not to experience penetration, as it is an experience of release, or they'd prefer their space due to heightened sensitivity." (Moon speak for "some people don't like period sex.")

That's why Aparicio recommends meditating on your sexual desires and exploring your curiosities while respecting your personal boundaries during this time. (If you do want to get after it, though, read: Everything You Need to Know About Period Sex)

Even if you don't happen to menstruate during the new moon, you can tap into the natural phenomenon by enjoying the sensation of a fresh start. Every new beginning requires some introspection and a willingness to venture outside your comfort zone.

"During the new moon, my husband and I experiment with all kinds of various sexual activities," says Angela Watson, a clinical social worker and founder of Doctor Climax, a source for sex toy and adult product reviews. It's a time that she says couples may want to practice "focused orgasms," when you aim to climax together.

2. The Waxing Moon

Practice self-pleasure and communication to nourish the mind and body.

If your hormonal cycle does sync with the lunar cycle, the waxing moon would correspond with the follicular phase (i.e. just before you start ovulating). Aparicio calls this time an "exciting, high-energy beginning of a new cycle," when the light returns to Earth and, ultimately, the body.

You likely already know that light naturally suppresses your melatonin levels (hi, blue light); research also suggests that increased light can boost ovulation. That's why the additional moonlight shining down on Earth may be tied to the fact that some women's bodies will start preparing to ovulate during this lunar phase.

Estrogen and testosterone levels may increase during ovulation, which can also heighten libido. Instead of turning to a partner, though, Aparicio recommends taking this time to practice self-pleasure. Again, even if you're not ovulating during the waxing moon, the start of a new cycle can still represent the start of a journey getting in touch with your sexuality.

"Sexuality can be experienced in a more sovereign manner during this phase because, at this time, you're more cognitively focused versus tuned into emotion and empathy, at least compared to later in the cycle," she explains.

Self-pleasure can help to nourish the mind and body, though it's also a time for partners to discuss their sexual desires with one another, as well. "This can be a great time to communicate feelings with one another and also discuss plans for future sexual endeavors," says Watson. (Maybe you want to try a new position or incorporate a toy into your relationship.)

3. The Full Moon

Enjoy a heightened capacity for seduction.

During the full moon, the maximum amount of light is reflecting towards Earth. That may be why more women ovulate during the full moon than at any other point in the lunar cycle.

"At this time, the release of the egg sends signals of fertility throughout the body and mind; as a result, desire levels tend to be high [and] pheromones are released that make women subconsciously more enticing to others," says Aparicio. "It's a time to celebrate fullness and sexuality and to experience gratitude."

If you're not ovulating during the full moon, you can take full advantage of the significant light cast upon the Earth, and use the full moon's light as a metaphor to bring to light your deepest sexual desires.

"When it comes to sexuality, love, intimacy, and connection, coming together as the moon approaches its peak illumination at the full moon phase would be the most potent time to use the light and enjoy ritual," says Carr. (Consider this the perfect time to try something like tantric sex.)

Carr recommends preparing and sharing a naked banquette, for example. After all, the moon is connected to the astrological sign of Cancer, the "homemaking, loving, and nurturing crab who adores fine foods, especially when they're shared with a lover," she explains.

"Feed each other some of your favorite delicious foods like berries, dates, raw chocolate—any bite-sized nibbles of delight you both enjoy—as gentle music plays and candles and incense burn around you," says Carr. "Perhaps save the sparkling water or champagne for dessert, pouring it over your beloved's and your body as you enjoy." (Related: Should You Eat Based On Your Menstrual Cycle?)

Not your jam? The full moon is also an ideal time to "explore your confidence and heightened capacity for seduction" by communicating what you want, recommends Aparicio. Whatever you do, though, it's important to flow with what feels right.

"The full moon is the 'climax' of the lunar cycle, and we can often feel a corresponding peak of energy, creativity, or extroversion," says Grace Funk, an astrologist and cyclical mentor who helps people tune into all the cycles in their lives (menstrual, lunar, astrological, etc.). "This can also be an intense time—some people find it hard to sleep (melatonin levels can be impacted by the full moon), and others feel emotionally sensitive—so, at this point in the lunar cycle, flow with your natural desire to engage with others."

4. The Waning Moon

Embrace your orgasms and listen to your body.

If your menstrual cycle is aligned with the lunar cycle, the waning moon would correspond with your luteal or premenstrual phase, according to Aparicio. This can be an emotionally taxing time, as estrogen decreases and progesterone increases.

"Women can experience more emotional fluctuation at this time in their cycle. Spurts of energy are counteracted with lulls in energy," she explains. "The needs for rest, more sleep, and nourishment increase at this time. Likewise, as luminosity from the moon decreases during this time, the Earth experiences a decline in energy and as it returns to darkness."

Whether or not you're in the luteal phase, a waning moon might still act as a metaphor for waning energy. Luckily, the endorphins released in orgasm can help relieve premenstrual blues or energy lulls, says Aparicio, but it's also important to listen to your body during this time and not judge yourself if you're not feeling sexual. (Related: Things That Are Making Your PMS Worse)

"Take some time out during the descent phase of the lunar cycle to turn inward and listen for where your desire is leading you," adds Funk. "What needs to change? What do you need to let go of? When you listen to yourself in this way—to your physical, emotional, and relational truth—you inherently enhance your sexual experience because you come to it from a place of inner alignment."

She says that part of this "sexual self-care" involves releasing yourself from any perceived obligations to be "consistently sexual, available, 'up,' happy, or juicy."

"The outward engagement that correlates with the full moon peak is balanced by an inward engagement at the dark moon, which means that you may feel the desire to be on your own," explains Funk. "If so, create some room for this to happen. Solitude feeds relationships, whether with the self or others. You can use this time to explore your sensual self, your body, your feelings, and your desires."

However you choose to spend this lunar phase (or any of the others), there's one important takeaway: Stay true to yourself.

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