Can the moon and its phases (or the imitation of them) really help you to regulate your menstrual cycle — and ultimately, get pregnant?
Surprising though it sounds, there could be some merit to the theory of lunaception. Today we explore this interesting idea – and how you can try it out for yourself.
What is Lunaception?
The term “lunaception” was introduced to the general public in the 1976 book “Lunaception: a Feminine Odyssey Into Fertility and Contraception.” (Note: you can obtain a digital copy here.)
In this groundbreaking book author Louise Lacey postulated that modern living – particularly the use of artificial lighting in evening hours – interrupts the body’s natural cycles, including ovulation and menstruation.
Among her theories was the controversial assertion that prior to the advent of electricity, most women may have ovulated during the full moon and menstruated during the new moon.
She also gave a plan to gauge one’s fertility including temperature charting, vaginal secretions, and mood.
Exploring Lunaception Theory: Does it Have Merit?
Strange though the idea of lunaception may sound at first, scientists agree that the moon’s phases could potentially have an impact on hormones, including those that govern the menstrual cycle.
For example, the published paper The Lunar Cycle: Effects on Human and Animal Behavior and Physiology reveals that the moon may have influence over the body’s circadian (sleep/wake) and hormonal rhythms. Although the paper states that further research is necessary, it’s one tantalizing piece to the puzzle of why lunaception may work for some women.
Ovulating By the Light of the Moon
According to lunaception enthusiasts, the menstrual cycle – and specifically ovulation – can be “reset” by eliminating all sources of light during sleeping hours except for the middle three days of the month. This is intended to help trigger and regulate ovulation.
This practice should continue indefinitely so that the practitioner is sleeping “naturally” according to how the ancients would have experienced light/darkness.
One issue with the lunaception theory is that there really was no time during human history that people would have slept in complete darkness. Why? Because the advent of fire goes back farther than our current evolution (Homo Sapiens sapiens). As currently evolved humans, we have never slept routinely in pure darkness, even during the darkest phases of the moon. (The author asserts that firelight does not produce the same hormonal changes as artificial or direct moonlight, but that theory is thus far unproven.)
However, there can be little argument that electricity produces an artificial light much closer to daytime lighting than fire, including lamps and candles, can produce. And scientists agree that artificial lighting, including the streetlights and traffic outside our windows, can create disruption in our hormonal cycles.
The Other Half of the Equation: Fertility Charting
Fertility charting can and does work to help women determine the phases of the menstrual cycle. See this article for more on fertility charting.
Fertility charting involves taking one’s basal body temperature each morning and plotting it on a graph. It also typically includes checking vaginal secretions for changes that signal the advent of ovulation.
When the body temperature rises (due to progesterone) for three consecutive days, and particularly when the woman has also experienced “eggwhite” (clear and stretchy) secretions (cervical mucus) prior to the rise, it can be assumed that ovulation has occurred.
Over time a pattern should emerge, and the practitioner will be more familiar with her personal signs that ovulation is approaching on a given month. By timing her intercourse to coincide with impending ovulation, she increases her chances of getting pregnant.
How to Practice Lunaception
The book really is fascinating; pick up a copy if you can. In the meantime, if you want to get started now, here are the basics of lunaception:
- Buy very dark, opaque curtains or blinds that block out light completely. Install them on all bedroom windows. Test them by turning off all the lights at night. If you can see your hand, the curtains aren’t dark enough, according to the book’s author.
- If any lights may enter your room from another source – say, a family member needs to use the bathroom and turns on the hall light, producing light beneath the bedroom door – install red light bulbs. A red light bulb in the bathroom is also a good idea in case you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Put a 15-25 watt night light on the opposite side of the room from your bed. Counting from the first day of your menstrual cycle, turn on the night light while you sleep for three consecutive days starting on cycle day 14.
- Return to sleeping in complete darkness for the remainder of your cycle. On your next cycle, counting from the first day of your menstrual period, begin using your night light on cycle day 14. Repeat with every cycle.
- Also begin fertility charting. See our article here for more info and a free chart template.
Will it Work?
The jury is still officially out on whether manipulating your light source during sleep will regulate ovulation. However, many women say this practice has helped regulate their hormones in a variety of ways, as well as improving sleep in general.
With the addition of fertility charting, your chances of getting to know your body are much greater than without it. Whether or not you practice lunaception, we do recommend charting.
We hope this information has helped you understand the concept of lunaception – and we do suggest that you try it if you’re interested in the theory. You may just find out more about your body than you ever thought you would.
Image credit: Till The End of Time by Akshay moon