In this episode:
Download the free mini-guide: Syncing With the Moon for a Better FlowSupport the show
Thanks for listening!
Hey everyone! Welcome to the Lunar Body, I'm your host, Kristen Ciccolini, period priestess, nutritionist, and the founder of Good Witch Kitchen.
I’m so glad you’re here for this first episode. I want to briefly share a little bit about me so you know who’s talking to you first of all, but also so you can get a feel for my vibe. I want us to be a good match for each other. Then I’m going to introduce you to your menstrual cycle and give you the version that you probably didn’t learn in health class.
But first, my standard disclaimer that this information is for educational purposes only, it is NOT a replacement for medical advice and it is your responsibility to speak to a qualified health care provider about your unique needs. The final decision when considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your doctor, is always your own.
Let’s get to it.
You might be here because you already follow me on Instagram or you’ve listened to my other podcast with my dear friend Janine Mulone, but if you’re new here, I’m honored to meet you and so glad you’re sharing your time with me.
I’m Kristen, I’m a Boston-based holistic nutritionist certified in functional and culinary nutrition. That means you get both the why and how for the things I’ll recommend on this show. One of my core values is accessibility in wellness and part of that is offering education that I believe should have been available to everyone a long time ago. Another value is inclusivity - including gender, weight, race, and other parts of people’s identities that are often missing from the conversation about wellbeing. On this podcast, I’m going to do my best to use gender-neutral language, because not all women menstruate and not everyone who menstruates is a woman. However, I’m not perfect, so If I do miss an opportunity to be more inclusive with my language, feel free to let me know I am always open to feedback.
I started my business Good Witch Kitchen 4 years ago pretty much to the day that this podcast is launching, my little Capricorn baby - although this podcast is technically an Aquarius. There’s going to be a blend of science and spirituality here as you can already see. Speaking of which, I am one of the most Virgo Virgos you’ll ever meet. I’ve got a Virgo Sun, Rising, Mercury. Mars, and Venus all in the 12th house. So again, I’m very practical and mystical.
I also run a membership program called Superpower Your Natural Cycle that takes a lot of what we’ll talk about on this show and helps you implement it. Each month we focus on a topic of health and life that impacts your hormones, and with each moon phase, I offer different ways you can embody the energy of that phase to help you align with your cycle.
But what does that even mean? Enough about me, before you can align or sync or honor the different phases of your cycle, or map it to the moon, you need to know how your cycle actually works.
For many of us, our moms explained what would happen every month for the decades to come, mostly detailing the types of products we’d have to buy to contain it, right? Here are some pads, here’s some Advil, good luck.
Or maybe your teacher in health class briefly mentioned it was important for fertility. Maybe you heard some friends talking about it in middle school. Or you watched the movie Carrie and the opening scene was a wild intro to your health education.
As for the sciencey details? Most people I talk to got none of that.
So if you’re not sure what is actually happening in your body during your period, you’re not alone.
A lot of people I talk to share with me that they feel embarrassed or insecure that they’ve made it to their 30s, their 40s, their 50s, and 60s, without knowing how the menstrual cycle works.
We know in the back of our minds, You bleed, it hurts, you move on till next month, right?
That’s the gist of the education that menstruators get on their body’s reproductive system. The rest is a bit of a mystery for us to figure out on our own, and you wouldn’t dare talk about it with your friends because there’s stigma around it and growing up you probably learned that it made you dirty or unclean.
Thankfully it’s becoming less of a taboo subject to discuss. We shouldn’t be stigmatized for our body’s natural process, arguably the *most* natural. It’s pretty damn amazing considering it helps us make actual fucking humans, yes we swear on this podcast. How cool is that?
So if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s — wherever you are in life — and you aren’t 100% sure what’s actually going on inside of you during your period and the rest of your menstrual cycle, I got you.
There are two main phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. However, your body is more complex than that! So I like to break it down even more when explaining this to clients and I focus on four stages: the follicular, ovulatory, luteal, and menstrual phases.
The follicular phase begins on Day 1 of your period, so yes there’s an overlap with this phase and the menstrual phase, and we’ll get to that, but let’s start here. To get the cycle moving, the hypothalamus, which is located in your brain and is responsible for releasing hormones, triggers the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (or FSH). This phase is the beginning of your cycle, starting on day one of your period. FSH is produced and sent to the ovaries to let them know it’s time to start preparing for an egg. Follicles, located on the ovaries, are where the eggs are kept until it’s time for ovulation that’s why it’s called follicle-stimulating hormone
Estrogen levels are low at the beginning of this phase, but steadily rise as you near the ovulatory phase. As it rises, this helps thicken the lining of the uterus to prepare to host the egg for possible pregnancy.
This corresponds to the waxing moon, so you may feel energy building and you may feel more motivated and social towards the end of this phase.
Next is the ovulatory phase
When estrogen hits its peak around the halfway point in your cycle, it signals to the body to release luteinizing hormone (or LH), which then triggers ovulation. An egg releases from its follicle into the fallopian tube, staying there for 12–24 hours.
Estrogen and progesterone continue to increase and thicken the uterine lining (also called the endometrium). Testosterone increases at this time, too, so your libido may be feeling pretty high. That, my friend, is evolution! You’re at your most fertile at the same time you wanna get busy, and the stars align for you to make a baby if that’s what you want
Note: If you are on hormonal birth control, you do not ovulate. The pill works by suppressing your natural cycle and preventing ovulation. I’ll do an episode in the future about how the pill impacts your cycle, but for now, you can focus on the corresponding lunar energy to help you get in alignment.
Now we have The luteal phase
The follicle that released the egg at ovulation is now called the corpus luteum now that it’s empty, that’s where the luteal phase name comes from, and it starts to produce estrogen and progesterone that continue building up the uterine lining to make a happy home for your egg, just in case it gets fertilized and you become pregnant. Progesterone takes over and becomes the dominant hormone in this half of the cycle, and it is essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy (pro-gestation).
If conception doesn’t occur, here’s what happens next. The corpus luteum recognizes that you’re not pregnant, so it starts to break down and the estrogen and progesterone it was producing declines. The lining that it helped build will get ready to shed since you won’t be needing it for pregnancy this time around.
This is where PMS symptoms tend to pop up if hormones are imbalanced — and yes, PMS symptoms are indicative of a hormone imbalance, they aren’t normal. A normal cycle shouldn’t really have anything more than mild cramping. We will definitely cover this in a future episode. Also in the luteal phase, it corresponds with the waning moon. You may feel your energy start strong in the beginning and then wane towards the end, just like the light of the moon.
And then finally, the menstrual phase.
The menstrual phase begins when you start to bleed, your first day of full red bleeding, not spotting. This overlaps for a couple of days of the follicular phase as I mentioned, but I wanted to explain what is actually happening when you’re bleeding
That drop in progesterone after your body realizes there is no pregnancy to maintain causes the endometrium to shed along with the egg, blood, and other fun mucousy things. You know the drill on that end. Blood can be many shades of red, but it should be bright on most days.
As menstruation begins, estrogen drops to prepare for the next cycle. This is your new moon time and It’s a great time for rest and introspection, and you may notice your intuition feeling stronger during this phase.
So that’s your menstrual cycle.
Everything I detailed above is what happens in a healthy normal cycle. With hormones balanced, there should be little to no pain, cramping, or other symptoms throughout the four or five weeks. The average menstrual cycle lasts between 25-35 days. We do like to make it a clean 28 to go along with the lunar phases, and some people have a perfectly organized cycle in that way, but a longer or short cycle is normal as long as it’s consistent month-to-month for you. So if you’re 35 days every cycle, that’s normal.
A lot of people think that if they’re not planning to have kids, none of this matters. But that’s not true. The menstrual cycle is an important indicator of our overall health, so it is still essential to care for our fertility. It’s actually being referred to in the medical community now as the fifth vital sign, so your vital signs are measurements that indicate your health status - body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and now, your cycle.
Now I’m going to talk about moon energy and what that has to do with your menstrual cycle, how to use it to get aligned with your cycle, and what the patriarchy has to do with all of this.
We all know that our world is set up to serve the patriarchy,
Actually - this fall I got a very angry and homophobic email from a woman who said that real feminists don’t believe in the patriarchy, so maybe we don’t all know that. So if you’re new to this patriarchy-smashing business, welcome. It’s a lot of fun!
Anyway, most of us recognize that we live in a patriarchal society, but many don’t realize how deep it goes and how many areas of our lives are impacted by this. I have a whole workshop on this but I’m just going to give you the basics today which can hopefully open up something in you that inspires and empowers you to embrace your lunar body. I’ll explain why I call it the lunar body in a second.
As a society, We live by the circadian rhythm, attempting to perform at the same level day in and day out until the end of time. It fits perfectly into our capitalist structures. But menstruators have a second clock that needs attention, too. It’s called the infradian rhythm.
An infradian rhythm is technically any cycle that lasts longer than 24 hours. In this case, we’re talking about the menstrual cycle.
As you’ll learn, the cycles of life all intertwine, but we live in a very male-centered way. Men or those assigned male at birth function on a 24-hour cycle, where it’s Groundhog Day for their hormones every day. This corresponds to the solar cycle. The sun rises and sets, you wake up and you go to sleep, repeat every day forever.
Those of us with ovaries function on a 28-day cycle (roughly), which corresponds to the lunar cycle. Which is why this podcast is called the Lunar Body! There are four phases to our menstrual cycle as you just learned, and there are four phases of the moon. This means that your hormones fluctuate over the course of four or so weeks, rather than 24 hours.
If you’re an astrology nerd/witch, you know that moon phases have different energies and we plan accordingly. For example, some basic rituals are that we set intentions under the new moon and let go of what doesn’t serve us under the full moon.
Why, then, don’t we consider that we can live accordingly for our menstrual phases too?
Like I said the world is set up to serve the patriarchy
Society is designed for the solar cycle, I mean it makes sense we obviously have to wake up and go to sleep every day, but it extends beyond that, and it’s so ingrained that we have to be endlessly repeatable versions of ourselves every day that you may never have even realized there were any phases to tend to, because you’re so busy trying to ignore those natural changes.
It’s not just a few days of bleeding and that’s all there is to it. There are follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases to think about before the tampons come out. These phases all have different energies and needs, too, just like the moon, just like we talked about.
So what ends up happening? We bend and try to fit ourselves into expectations of productivity that are more for solar bodies and deplete our energy in the process. While solar bodies can function the same way day in and day out, lunar bodies have longer periods of hormonal fluctuations that influence everything from your energy to your work productivity, creativity, metabolism, immune health, and more.
If your periods are irregular, if you’re having difficult PMS symptoms, if you have a diagnosed hormone imbalance, even if you just want a deeper connection to yourself, paying attention to which phase of your cycle you are in can help you get in balance.
Here are the menstrual phases as they typically correspond with the moon phases.
Follicular phase = Waxing moon 🌓
Ovulatory phase = Full moon 🌕
Luteal phase = Waning moon 🌗
Menstrual phase = New moon 🌑
Check the last date of your period and see how you match up with the moon. You might find that you do or you don’t, and that’s okay.
What I just described, with your period happening on the new moon, this is referred to as a “white moon cycle.” If your menstrual phase falls on a full moon, it’s called a “red moon cycle.”
If you’re not quite synced like this, that’s okay. Everyone’s body is different. The moon phase correspondence can help you understand how to honor your cycle regardless if it currently matches up with what’s happening in the sky. It’s just a way to give you some more perspective on the current energy.
For example, the new moon is a time to rest. The lights are out and we can sit with ourselves and think about our intentions that we want to bring to fruition as the light grows stronger into the full moon (ovulation), when our energy is typically at its highest, and both our bodies and the earth are at their most fertile.
If you’re not menstruating, you can still focus on this cyclical energy to help rebalance your hormones and regulate them to this cycle, or if you are nonbinary or trans this can help you connect to the cyclical nature of your feminine energy. And that’s a gender-neutral feminine, I’m speaking more to the archetypes that we all have within us.
Now let’s talk about some basic tips for how you can honor the different phases of your menstrual cycle, guided by the phases of the moon. As I mentioned, the cycles of life all intertwine, and we can map these to the seasons of the year as well. Focusing on seasons may help you make more sense of how to approach each phase if you don’t sync up with the white moon cycle or if using the moon feels too nebulous right now
More detailed information on how you can do this is in my free guide, Syncing With the Moon for a Better Flow, which is linked in the show notes, or you can grab that at goodwitchkitchen.net/flow
We start with the Follicular phase
Waxing moon // inner spring
Energy begins to blossom like flowers in the spring and it’s time to get started on the intentions you’ve set (planting seeds). It’s a good time for sprouted and fermented foods that are easy to digest and feel light and fresh. - these are full of energy, fermented foods are living foods and sprouted foods contain more nutrients than their non sprouted versions, so it’s a lot of energetic support for your body as estrogen and energy are growing
Full moon // inner summer
Ovulation has you glowing from the inside out and you’re feeling bold and passionate in this phase. The full moon illuminates your intentions and sheds light on what’s working and what isn’t, so now is a good time to let go of what doesn’t serve. In terms of nutrition, now is the time for liver-supporting foods like citrus, berries, and cruciferous vegetables. Because estrogen is high and we want to make sure that it’s properly eliminated from the body, and these foods support your liver in that process.
Waning moon // fall
This is the longest phase of your cycle and is more energetic in the first half, winding down towards menstruation in the second half. Think about how the light of the moon in the waning time starts bright and then diminishes to the little fingernail crescent. That’s the curve of your energy too. Now’s the perfect time to get your sh*t together! Focus on the essentials, get rid of clutter, organize your house, your workspace, let go of projects that are more stress than they’re worth, go minimalist. Nourish yourself with foods rich in B vitamins to support energy production in the body as it's waning because you want wants left to be firing on all cylinders, so that’s leafy greens and whole grains. You’ll also want, magnesium-rich foods to help relax cramps like cacao, greens, nuts, and seeds, and serotonin-boosting foods to help keep mood swings at bay like eggs, salmon, nuts and seeds, and turkey. More examples of these can be found on my website at goodwitchkitchen.net, or in the mini-guide I shared in the show notes.
New moon // inner winter
A period of low energy, making it a great time for rest, introspection, and intention-setting for the future. For nutrition, you’ll want to enjoy nutrient-dense foods to help replenish what is used during menstruation like fresh produce, especially iron and other minerals, and warming foods as well will feel really comforting. Chamomile tea is also a nice anti-inflammatory herbal tea that will feel really good in the menstrual phase too.
So those are some tips for living a bit more cyclically. And know that Your mileage may vary
Again, everyone is different, but viewing your body and your schedule in terms of menstrual, lunar, and seasonal cycles can be really helpful to managing your energy and just feeling better.
I recommend figuring out where you are in your cycle based on these energies and how you feel. If you have no idea, follow the moon. Plan out your next month according to your particular cycle and see how it affects your energy levels, rather than trying to wake up and restart with the same energy every day. I would love to hear from you in a month to see how it’s going, and I love love love hearing from you.
As a reminder, if you’d like to know more about how you can work with both the lunar and menstrual cycles together, you can download my free mini-guide called Syncing With the Moon for a Better Flow. That’s at goodwitchkitchen.net/flow and it’s linked in the show notes
Also, doors to my membership program Superpower Your Natural Cycle are now open through January 31st. You can learn more about it at syncmembership.com
Thank you for listening to the first episode of The Lunar Body. If you’d like to get in touch you can email me at email@example.com, or find me on Instagram at @goodwitchkitchen. If you liked what you heard today I’d love for you to leave a review on iTunes. It helps lovely lunar feminists like yourself find my show, and my love language is words of affirmation so I will appreciate your reviews on a deep soul level. Until next time,