“The moon was watching the earth closer than anybody else. It must have witnessed all the events taking place on this earth — and all the deeds performed —, “Haruki Murakami writes in 1Q84.
The earth’s natural satellite has always fascinated human minds. Throughout the ages, humans have worshipped the moon, studied it, and referred to it to predict the direction of their lives… and their state of health.
This fascination with the moon is ongoing. This year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, and NASA is making plans to send another human crew to the moon in 2024.
The moon influences life on Earth and natural mechanisms in a way that must have seemed natural hundreds and thousands of years ago. At full moon, corals release eggs and gametes in a reproductive frenzy.
And the gravitational attraction between the moon and the Earth causes sea tides — the rising and falling of the sea.
Since the moon influences such mechanisms of life on Earth, people have also believed that it can affect various aspects of physical and mental health.
But is this true, and to what extent? In this Spotlight feature, we aim to find out.
Some people still refer to menstrual cycles as “moon cycles,” and many remain convinced that there is a form of synchronicity between the phases of the moon and female menses.
Researchers still disagree on whether the moon is likely to influence menstrual cycles in any way.
A myriad of webpages and smartphone apps purport to help you track your moon cycle or to achieve full synchronization between your menses and the phases of the moon.
Some even advise readers on how to maximize their chances of becoming pregnant by taking moon phase into account.
But is it true that the phase of the moon can influence fertility windows? This question is far from settled.
The notion that the menstrual cycle and the phases of the moon are somehow linked derives from the concept that, on average, a menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, which is about if a moon cycle. The moon takes 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes to complete one revolution around the Earth, and 29.5 days for a moon phase cycle.
In the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, various small-scale studies suggested that females’ periods and ovulation phases coincided with the “light” phase (in the leading to full moon), and the “dark” phase (in the leading to new moon) of the moon cycle, respectively.
As recently as 2005, one study working with a small cohort from Nepal, claimed indicated that women whose ovulation phase coincided with the full moon, and who got pregnant during the full moon, were more likely to give birth to male babies. Those who conceived before the full moon were more likely to give birth to female babies.
However, most periods are unlikely to “synch” with particular moon phases, except by coincidence. Menstrual cycles can last anywhere between 21–35 days, and their length can also change with age and due to hormonal factors.
A more recent 1-year-long retrospective study of 74 females of reproductive age contradicted the idea that the moon had a say in menstrual cycles. The study found no correlation whatsoever between menses, fertility, and the phases of the moon.
Writer: Sakshi Gupta