A quick primer on working with the energy of your menstrual cycle or phases of the moon
I was at an event several weeks ago. I learned a lot about myself, but I also learned a lot about other women’s struggles.
There was one particular experience that stood out to me. A woman stood up, and, like many of the other women who shared, started to cry. She was struggling with fatigue during her menstrual cycle. She had seen doctors, and none of them could help her figure out what was causing the fatigue.
I felt deeply for her. I know from my battle with adrenal dysfunction how frustrating it is to not understand why your body’s not working the way you think it should.
I didn’t have a chance to connect with her (when we did talk, our conversation was cut short by the start of the next speaker), so I can’t know the details of her struggle. She may have an underlying health problem.
She could be battling adrenal dysfunction as I have. My fatigue started during my cycle, then transitioned to random times until it was full-on, unrelenting fatigue. Many healthcare professionals aren’t equipped to diagnose adrenal dysfunction or don’t recognize it as a diagnosis, so it can be easily missed. Or it could be other things.
The problem here though is I could see how badly she felt and how she beat herself up because she was experiencing monthly fatigue she didn’t think she should have. The speaker at the time was male and wasn’t able to offer the most understanding or helpful support. He doesn’t have direct experience of what it’s like to inhabit a woman’s body. Her concerns didn’t appear to be alleviated either.
Women’s bodies, our hormones, and our energy levels, as a result, operate entirely differently than men’s bodies and energy.
We live in a society that operates under the assumption that our bodies operate on a daily cycle, with energy replenishing each day after our nightly rest.
For women, though, our energy levels are not the same daily. They change throughout our monthly cycle.
We’re expected to show up every day with the same energy as the day before or we think we should have the same drive and determination day after day. Every day of the approximately monthly cycle brings different energy though for us as women.
Because operating under a daily energy turnover is the norm, this woman felt bad that she didn’t have as much to give during her cycle as she should. It felt like her cycle was letting her down and preventing her from achieving her dreams (a summary of her words as best as I can recall).
I wanted to tell her not to make her body wrong for asking her to slow down during her bleed (and of course encourage her to explore alternative practitioners to see if she does have an undiagnosed medical issue). I wanted to share with her the info I’m about to share with you now to help her learn to work with her cycle instead of against it.
It’s time we, as women, learn a new way of working with the strengths of each phase of our cycle rather than try to make male-centered productivity methods work for us. The daily energy renewal cycle may work for men, but it isn’t the most productive way for us to work.
How our energy levels change throughout our cycle
This post isn’t meant to serve as a detailed or scientific article, but I want to give a general rundown so you can begin to explore this topic for yourself. I want to help raise awareness around the topic of working with our monthly energy cycles and a new way of “productivity” for women. For additional info, I recommend reading Wild Power by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer.
During our menstrual cycle is time for slowing down, reviewing, and planning. As we emerge and begin to build up to ovulation, our energy also builds. We begin to take more action and become more externally focused. Once ovulation occurs (the luteal phase), our energy begins to wane again and we return to an inward state. During this time, we are better suited to processing what is going on internally.
Menstruation is like our inner winter, preovulation is like spring, ovulation is like our inner summer, and the luteal phase is like fall. Summer is our most energetic time and winter is more restful with spring and fall being the transition periods into each.
That’s the simplified version of how our energies change throughout our monthly cycle, but it will give you a good start to what occurs and how to begin to work with the energies of your cycle.
How to work with the energies of your feminine cycle
Knowing now how our energy fluctuates throughout the monthly cycle, you can begin to plan projects and events around your cycle. I like to plan client work around ovulation because it comes more naturally. Same with social outings. Nearer menstruation, I know I will want to be home more. Some things will more obviously be suited to different times of the month, but there are subtleties throughout your cycle as well. To get the clearest picture of how to work with your unique energy levels throughout your cycle, you can begin to track how much energy you have and where your focus gravitates on each day of your cycle. After some time, patterns will begin to emerge.
Rather than setting monthly goals or agendas if you work that way, try planning according to your cycle. At the start of your cycle, set your intention for that cycle. Plan to take the most action in the first couple of weeks or so depending of your cycle, with most interactions with others occurring around ovulation (obviously not all of this is within our control), and then using the second part of the cycle more for reflection, creative projects, and tending to your own needs.
What about those who don’t menstruate
For anyone who identifies as female who doesn’t or isn’t currently menstruating, you can use the phases of the moon. The energy of our cycles is similar to that of the moon cycles. The new moon energy is similar to the energy during menstruation and the energy during the full moon is similar to the energy during ovulation with the waxing phase reflecting the period building up to ovulation and the waning phase reflecting the luteal phase.
The new moon is generally a time for reflecting and planning and more internally focused. The energy builds as we approach the full moon with more action-taking and being more externally focused (a good time to meet up with others or do client work). As the moon wanes, you return to a more internal state and become more creative until you return to introspection and reflecting and the cycle begins again.
Just as with menstrual cycle awareness, track your energy levels and where you find your focus natural goes to notice patterns in how your unique rhythms fluctuate throughout the phases of the moon. The longer you track, the more patterns you’ll notice and can begin to anticipate when your energy will be best suited to certain activities.
As with menstrual cycle planning, you can use the new moon to set your intention for the month, allot time before and around the full moon to get your most important and energetically demanding tasks done, and then as the moon wanes, use that time for returning to your center, your needs, creative expression, and introspection.
I hope this rundown at the very least inspires you to begin to notice how your energy levels naturally change through either your monthly cycle or with the moon phases or both. This is a powerful tool we as women can begin to use in our lives to become more effective with our time and energy and show more love for ourselves and our bodies. I find it’s an incredibly empowering way to work as a woman.
Let me know below if you have any takeaways from this post, if you’re a seasoned MCA tracker or work with the moon phases, or if you have any questions. Your questions and experiences can help other women as we all have unique perspectives and experiences to share.