I think it’s fitting that my first post back touches on the subject closest to my body, heart, and soul: womanhood. If you’ve been following me for a while (has it really been 2 years?!) you’ll remember my post about learning to chart my menstrual cycle. That was probably the most empowering decision I ever made, and it led to a lot of changes in my life. It not only let me get to know myself, but it gave me the confidence to take charge of my life again, in more than just the physical aspect. Knowing your body is the first step to loving it; loving your body is the first step to loving yourself; loving yourself is the first step to loving your life and the people in it. And love is a powerful thing. It’s all you need, after all.
I’m pleased to say that I’m still charting (though Glyde is still an integral part of my life). There are so many things about a woman’s body that girls are sadly not taught in school, by their parents, or even by their GYNs. All knowledge is power, and where better to start exercising that power than within yourself? Knowing the exact day that I would start my period alleviated all the stress of wondering, of being a day or two late, of not being prepared. Being able to pinpoint the day that I ovulated was perhaps the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. There, on that day, I had the power to create life. There, on that day, I was a woman, in every sense of the word. I had the power, I had the ability, I had the choice. I used to envy men for not having to worry about pregnancy. That envy disappeared the first time I circled a day on my chart.
Now, it’s time for an update on my journey to full goddess-dom. Thanks to the fabulous Lauren at Empowered Sustenance, I’ve also incorporated the concept of Lunaception in my contraception plan. First introduced in the seventies by Louise Lacey, Lunaception is a vastly underrated tool that can help women balance their cycles. Since Lauren does a wonderful job of explaining the idea behind this practice, I’m going to leave it up to her:
“Women’s menstrual cycles are wired to be in sync with the moon. In all early societies, before industrialism and processed foods disrupted traditional cultures, all women ovulated at the full moon and menstruated at the new moon. This is every woman’s intrinsic default setting… this is how we are meant to be. Hormonal disruption, however, causes biological chaos in our menstrual cycle… Random and uncomfortable periods are the effect of a diet and lifestyle that disconnects us from the rhythm of nature. Modern living means that most women abuse their bodies with various chemicals, antibiotics, prescription medications, The Pill, extreme emotional stress, the stress of over-exercising, refined foods, and more.”
If anyone else out there grew up wishing she was a Sailor Scout, you’ll understand how exciting the idea of syncing my body to the moon was to me.
The idea behind Lunaception is that we can use light to get our bodies back into their lunar rhythm. If you know anything about our circadian rhythm, you understand that our bodies equate blue light with daytime and red light with night, or firelight. This is why using computers and TVs at night interrupt our sleep patterns. Small amounts of blue light can also be used to simulate moonlight, tricking your body into thinking that it’s a full moon. So, to practice Lunaception, all you have to do is sleep in complete darkness for all but three days a month – the day before, the day of, and the day after the full moon. On those days, leave a dim light on to simulate moonlight. I leave a small lamp on just outside the bedroom door so the light isn’t directly shining on me and keeping me awake. Lauren recommends omitting the three light nights for a month or two to “reset” your body.
I’ll admit, the first month I used the light was awful. I’m used to sleeping in complete darkness, so my first two “reset” months were a breeze. But even my dim lamp kept me awake all three nights, and it seemed to take the entire next month to catch up on that sleep. However, even on that first month of using the light, I noticed a shift in my cycle. My cycle had always been extremely short – usually 25 days – because of the pill I was on for almost a decade. But that month, it was 31 days!! Imagine how terrified I was those extra 6 days! I’ll admit, I hadn’t been taking my temperature because my work schedule didn’t allow me to wake up at the same time everyday, so I didn’t have the comfort of seeing my temp rise and fall. Even though it was my first time using the light, my period came the day before the new moon. The next month was another 31 day cycle, with my period starting the day after the new moon. And last month, my cycle was actually 28 days, with my period starting the day of the new moon – for the first time ever! If that doesn’t make you feel like a moon goddess, what will?!
I can’t stress how much charting my cycle has changed my life. It’s the first thing I’d recommend to any woman who is working on her cycles, whether she’s getting off the pill, trying to get pregnant, or just trying to become more in tune with her primal self. I also have to stress the importance of being prepared; playing with your fertility cycle is not something to do without an adequate amount of guidance, whether that comes from your holistic doctor, GYN, or someone who is well practiced in the art of charting. I learned a lot about my physical self through the process, and part of it was that not everyone’s bodies function the same. Charting is easier for some than others. For some, like me, waking up at the same time each day to get an accurate temperature is difficult. Maybe your work schedule fluctuates, or maybe you are working on some sleep issues. For some women, it’s difficult for you to distinguish between the different kind of cervical fluid your body produces – also like me. And if you intend to use charting as your only means of contraception, checking your fluid is an integral part of deciding when it’s safe to have sex. Lunaception will help regulate your cycle, but things like stress or a vacation full of poor food choices can throw your cycle off for a month. That’s why it’s so important to have a backup plan while you’re still adjusting. Like Glyde. Or Sir Richards. Or Neem, though I’ve yet to find any conclusive evidence for its effectiveness (please share if you have!). The bottom line is that these are all tools we can use to empower ourselves in our path to natural fertility and/or contraception, but every tool can be misused.
And while I’ve learned on my journey that maybe tiny noses aren’t as scary as I once thought, I’m definitely not ready for one yet!