Copyright 1997, Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
"What Everyone Needs to Know
About Women's Mooncycles"
Dr. Michael Ra Bouchard
Recently a client asked me to explain why at times she felt unbelievably horny and sexually preoccupied while at other times sex was the furthest thing from her mind. She thought it could be her diet yet no matter what she tried, it seemed she just couldn't "control" it. She wondered if perhaps there was something wrong with her because about every two weeks, she would go from one extreme of wanting to jump her lover's bones all day and all night to the other, which had her pleading with him to go out for the day with the boys and give her some space. Being that I'm frequently asked similar questions about fluctuating sexual moods and desires, I thought it time to share my views on the subject in this 4-part series of love lessons.
Lesson 1: Everything is exactly as it should be
First of all, it's important to understand that these cycles are a perfectly normal, natural part of a woman's biological make up. Aside from the usual "daily life factors" impacting sex drive, including work, kids, stress, anxiety, fatigue, and medications amongst others, the worldwide bi-polar phenomenon of "sexual combustion and sexual stasis" is primarily influenced by the moon. The cycles of both the full and new moons affect the ebb and flow of everything-the tides, the plants, the animals, and us. Of all the orbs and cosmic currents influencing Planet Earth, none surpasses the pull of our moon upon our entire being, especially regarding our sexuality. And, while women are the ones primarily being influenced, men, too, are significantly impacted in their response to women during these cycles.
Mooncycles affect women of all shapes, sizes and colors, from birth to death, wherever they live, no matter their medical conditions, whether they want it to or not. Learning to manage this energy effectively can liberate you from acting in reactive ways that hold you as an "at effect" hostage, similar to the tail wagging the dog. By consciously managing your mooncycles, you can instead empower yourself to act "at cause." This is only accomplished by harnessing and flowing with these forces rather than resisting and fighting them. The two mooncycles usually align with ovulation and menstruation. Typically, ovulation occurs with the new moon (3-5 days), menstruation with the full moon (7-10 days), but it is totally normal for the reverse to be also true. All females experience mooncycles, even women who have had a hysterectomy. When you do the math, you can see that women spend up to half of their life in a mooncycle, so this is by no means a small matter, especially regarding relationship dynamics!
One way to recognize the moon's influence upon your body is to monitor the amount of tumescence, or fullness, that you feel throughout the month. You are most familiar with this feeling right before your period, but it can be felt in lesser degrees throughout the mooncycles. From the Latin root "tumere," meaning to swell, tumescence creates a swelling inside that makes you feel full all the time, causing increased sensitivity and sex drive, less patience, bitchiness, and all those other things you (or your girlfriend/wife) feel during mooncycles.
Some of the signs to help identify the presence of a mooncycle include a craving for sticky, gooey foods, and/or the appearance of a "pregnancy mask" which is a dark raccoon-like mask around the eyes, and/or a very subtle musky odor emanating from the body, and/or increased body temperature. Other signs include heightened emotions and sexual desire, and/or unwillingness and inability to make decisions as simple as choosing your clothing or a restaurant, and/or feeling less secure for no particular reason. You may also notice an overall higher-than-normal fullness where you often feel a real need to "let off some steam," and experience greater mood swings as the tumescence flows in and out of your body.
This week's first lesson has to do with the full moon phase. Notice what signs you experience. Write a few notes about your experience. Are you more on edge or quickly irritated? Do you eat more? Shop more? What happens when someone asks you for something? See how your increase in sexual desire shows up. Maybe you want more sex, or more cuddling, or to just be left alone; or maybe you just want to go to a romantic movie or have a massage. These observations are the key to understanding and successfully navigating your unique relationship with mooncycles for a happier life. Next week, the moon will be just passing its fullest point, and we will talk about effective ways to manage tumescence, as well as lovers, family, and friends.
Lesson 2: Find a need and fill it
In Lesson 1, we defined mooncycles and identified the signs in your body over the last week as the moon moves toward its peak. I hope you spent some time making a few notes about the physical changes, as well as the feelings you experienced, as they are important factors to help you to learn to manage and flow with these powerful energy shifts. This week, I will tell you how to manage the increased tumescence, or fullness, that you noticed last week.
One obvious way to relieve the fullness, or de-tumescence, is through sexual release. Depending on your individual capacities, repeated and frequent orgasms, up to every four hours if necessary, are the most complete way to detumesce. This can be alone or with a partner, both work great, just let your body be your guide. During an intense mooncycle, the difference before and after orgasm can be as dramatic as the contrast between a raging mountain lion and a cuddly kitten, all in just a few minutes time. It can leave you wondering where all that tension evaporated to so quickly!
You may have different sexual preferences during this time too, i.e., desire for greater or less frequency, more or less pressure, wanting or not wanting breast stimulation, taking your time or reaching orgasm as fast as you can. All of your tissues are more engorged, increasing sensitivity and urgency. Some women like more intercourse during their mooncycles because of the detumescing effect of each stroke, plus the added sensitivity can increase pleasure exponentially. Other women prefer to self-pleasure themselves because it can bring quick relief anytime, helping them to stay present and increasing their ability to enjoy partnered sex later. Be assured, self-pleasuring is a vital tool if your partner is squeamish or resistant to sex during the mooncycle that includes your menstrual period.
Some women withdraw and prefer to remove themselves from the center of activity during one or both of the mooncycles, which is a very natural inclination. Detumescing can take the form of spiritual practice or creative activity like writing, sculpting, painting, or dancing. During all mooncycles, tumescence is a critical factor to control, or else the energy can build up and toxify, inviting negative moods and thoughts to fester and feed on themselves.
Other non-sexual ways to detumesce are important since one cannot always find convenient times and places for impromptu sexual release. Exercise of all kinds is greatly detumescing. Yelling, crying, and singing, especially in the privacy of your own car, quickly relieve tension and stress on-the-go. Brushing your hair, getting a manicure or pedicure at the beauty shop, and body massage are soothing because in addition to the release, touch can be nurturing and nourishing. Talking is one of the easiest ways for women to detumesce. This is a time when it seems women just can't stop talking, and/or gossiping, until they feel all talked out. Verbally detumescing helps women feel much better, too.
And yet, sometimes the volume of talking can feel overwhelming to the men in your life, so if your guy's eyes start to glaze over and you've still got lots more to say, that's your cue to call or visit one of your gal pals. Just be careful about what you say during these verbal marathons, as gossiping can become a dangerous habit should you find yourself in the wrong company. I recommend you consider the consequences and take care not to overdo talking about others during these detumescing sessions so that you don?t later regret it.
Eating is also detumescing. The satisfaction of chewing and consuming food, especially gooey stuff like cheese, pudding, ice cream, chocolates, pasta, and/or whatever it is you crave is both relieving and nurturing. This can lead to eating more than normal too, just because it tastes and feels so good. Weight gain during menses is mostly water, but overeating at the same time can create weight that stays after the water has long passed through. So you?ll want to exercise restraint when detumescing with food, no pun intended!
Some women and couples find release through fighting. Anger is the second most effective detumescer after orgasm. In fact, anger has 11 of the 13 physiological characteristics of turn-on in the body, making it perhaps the most popular avenue of release in our culture today. Thus, it will come as no surprise that the two most popular ways to detumesce are either to make love or pick a fight. I call picking a fight "default detumescing," when essentially, guys get grumpy, and women bitch in order to gain release. Well, this can truly be the case. When emotions and energy are extremely high, the inevitable "spark" (like lightning) will trigger a release, and the body doesn't care whether it's anger or sex as long as the release occurs. Some couples do both, speaking dreamily about "make-up sex," with many swearing it's the best sex they've ever had. And, while I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes whenever I hear this, nonetheless I say with full conviction, to each their own.
This next week during the waning of the full moon, begin to use these tools to detumesce yourself. Notice how you fill up with energy and how it feels to release it. Which tool is best for you? Can you find at least two more tools that work for you or with your friends? Also, notice the people around you. See if you answer these questions differently than when you're not in a mooncycle. Is your lover more or less attentive to your needs? Does his/her attention mean more to you than it usually does? How easily do your moods shift? Do you perceive buses, trains, and traffic to be more congested? Do you find women (and men) in your workplace seemingly busier, more particular, and increasingly critical?
As the moon wanes this week, so will your feeling of tumescence, so watch for the decline as you return to your "normal" state. Next week, we will look at the next phase of your mooncycle and how it affects the men in your life.
Lesson 3: How to avoid "Moon Madness"
Now that the full moon is waning down to half by the middle of the month, most of the signs that you have been watching for and observing over the last two weeks should be almost gone. Did you find new ways to detumesce yourself? I hope you've gained insight into how the rest of the world is affected by the moon as well. More babies are born and more illness, injury, and crime occur during the full moon time. I have known police officers and doctors who can tell you exactly when the moon is full without ever looking at a calendar or the sky. This week we examine how the males around you, especially your lover, are affected by your mooncycles.
Probably the biggest risk to the men in your life, as well as co-workers, family and friends, happens when you do not manage your tumescence. This means you have little "releases" throughout the day, such as snapping at the traffic, ordering your kids around, losing it over a computer snafu, wanting to strangle the waiter because your food hasn't arrived - you know what I mean. If you do not release this tension build-up consciously, you and anyone else around may not be safe from the consequences!
Mooncycles do not come and go in a vacuum. When the energy continues to build with little or no release, it's like pouring water, drop by drop, into a balloon. When it gets too full, the balloon explodes, spilling water everywhere. This unplanned release is called "default detumescence" and will occur each time you let your balloon get too full. I encourage you to take responsibility for your own balloon, because all too often, the only up side to the experience of default detumescence is your body's physical release. While you may feel better after your purge, you now have to clean up the mess you?ve made. Irritability, short temper, moodiness, and low tolerances are some examples of default detumescence. Be responsible by self-managing yourself: after all, people have a right not to be at effect of your mooncycles.
In its extreme, tumescence not appropriately discharged will seek undesirable physical and emotional avenues, including anger outbursts, self-inflicted injuries, even so-called "accidents," (ranging from minor ones such as spilling things to bigger ones such as fender benders). As tumescence builds inside your body with no avenue of release, negativity and depression can quickly follow. Clearly, it's a wise course of action to pay attention to and appropriately acknowledge this cyclic pressure, and to manage it positively and proactively for your overall health and wellbeing.
The men in your life are also affected by your biological shifts, though we don't have the same shifts inside our body as do women. We respond to your mooncycle by having increased bodily sensations, triggered by your chemical changes. How well we understand mooncycles, your needs, and you, determines how well we manage ourselves-and you. Your mooncycles can be a sweetly vulnerable time together, marked with increased intimacy and deep emotions bringing you closer. Or, it can be a sour, combative time of isolation and pain, defined by snipes, arguments, and loneliness that keep your relationship treading water or worse, plunges you farther and further apart.
Release can take several forms, depending on how your man deals with energy in general. If he's active, the agitation he feels will dissipate when he exercises or engages with you. If he tends to let it accumulate, it can be released during sex. If his sexual outlet becomes restricted, it tends to stagnate and release at you and/or others in his environment. Since he usually cannot locate the source of agitation within his own body, he concludes, correctly by the way, that it must be coming from you. And, since men have not been historically attuned to the value of mooncycles, this can have a particularly harsh effect on your relationship. Upset may occur easily on both your parts during some of your most vulnerable moments, especially if he tries to place blame and fault on you for having this most natural of cycles. While all natural, the satisfaction and longevity of your relationship greatly depends upon how well the two of you relate around this cosmic dynamic that neither of you can control.
I hope you're starting to see how powerful mooncycles are and how vital it is to understand and learn from them. This week should be relatively "normal" for you until another mooncycle, this one shorter, starts to build around the new moon. In Lesson 4, we will look at this plus learn some relationship tips to help smooth over any rough spots that accompany every mooncycle.
Lesson 4: The more things change the more they stay the same
This final phase is the week of the New Moon. Starting about now, you may be feeling some of the same sensations in Lesson 1 starting to fill your body again, as the next mooncycle begins. This is the shorter mooncycle, and it's a miniature version of the full mooncycle earlier in the month. Notice any differences between the two in relation to your level of sexual desire. It is often the case that the New Moon mooncycle brings a higher level of desire and, because it is shorter, some of the signs may be more subtle, but nonetheless equally powerful. This is the perfect time to meditate on your intentions and dreams for the next month and to begin new projects.
In the previous lesson, we learned that men around you respond to your mooncycle, and how they respond depends upon you. This week I will give you some tips on how to refine mooncycles in your relationship to maximize the feelings and the fun available during this very special time. If you are a woman who likes to be isolated during mooncycles, it is important that your lover and others around you understand your needs. The last thing you want is for anyone to personalize your desire for space. Let them know your plans in advance if you can and be sure they understand that this is your preference with no bearing on your feelings of love for them. This isolation practice may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of a relationship, and, along with a man's need to retreat alone to his "cave" sometimes, is very easily taken as a personal affront. The American Indians and other Native peoples intuitively understood this need, and made it customary during this time for women to leave the community and stay alone or with other women in cloistered huts nearby until they were ready to return.
After you are somewhat comfortable in your relationship, should you discover that your man isn't as tuned in to your cycles as you would like him to be, I recommend you tell him about mooncycles and your preferences during them. Find a time when he is relaxed, not pre-occupied, and you have time to share unhurriedly. It's best if you are not in a mooncycle when you are trying to explain it to him because it might require every bit of your "normal" patience and tolerance to keep it light and fun while still getting everything across to your satisfaction.
It will come as no surprise that some men have the attitude that mooncycles are your "problem" and also your total responsibility. They have had their share of challenging interactions with other women, so they figure if they stay far enough away, at least emotionally if not physically, they can weather the "storm" with minimal difficulty. They don't quite understand how impossible that is nor that you spend almost half of your life in a mooncycle. The only way to deepen your partnership over a lifetime is to collaborate in your mooncycles, too. Remember, as a woman, it's your job to help bridge the gap if you want a happy life together, so no fair weather friends allowed!
Typically, men don't have much of a history of being successful with women during their mooncycles. Your anger, as small as it may seem to you, is incredibly powerful and scary to us men. You have the power to partner with both your man and your mooncycles, and you can make it LOTS safer and less scary by not dramatizing your anger around him. If you are angry, let off the steam away from him (scream, exercise, meditate, masturbate, or all of the above) and then come back and communicate your anger without the "charge." Men can handle what you have to say when you speak evenly rather than dramatize it. In fact, most men really want to hear what you have to say so long as we feel safe from your annihilation. You may think I kid or exaggerate when I say this, but be assured, most men shake in their boots when in the presence of a shooting-from-the-hip melodramatic partner!
As a rule, it's always good form to reign in dramatic remarks, critical judgments, and petty irritations about your man and your relationship until the mooncycle has passed. I recommend that you revisit the situation later, and then, if you still feel the same way, move forward and share your thoughts as constructively and compassionately as you can at a mutually convenient time. I've found that most of the time we men don't even remember the issue unless you bring it up, successfully eliminating a confrontation (or argument) that was nothing more than the body jumping at a chance to detumesce. Here's a little tip that will come in handy: when in doubt, shut your mouth! And when necessary, to overcome any impulses to blurt something out you'll probably later regret, bite your tongue until the urge passes.
Once you are familiar with your own preferences and habits during your mooncycle, you will become more fluent in sharing them with your man. The happier and more satisfied you are, the happier and more satisfied he will be, too. That is the part you must demonstrate to him by giving him "wins" and support as he learns how the cycles work. As this can take awhile, celebrate every little success along the way, encouraging even more successes! It's important that he feels successful on his own terms?for many men, a "win" more often than not means something sexually, or orally satisfying (like eating something special). Simply receiving an "atta-boy" appreciative compliment from you, (especially when accompanied by a hug or kiss) is emotionally and physically rewarding, so be sure he gets what (or at least part of what) he wants when he gives you (or even attempts to give you) what you want. When it comes right down to it, men have much in common with man's best friend?never underestimate the power of an appreciative "good dog good dog" acknowledgment when it comes to keeping our tail wagging! (For lots more pointers on this subject, along with specific instructions on how to go about getting more of what you want from your man, be sure to read my "How to Shape Up Your Lover" article, located on this website within Dr. Michael's Archive).
Mooncycles are part of every woman's life, literally occurring about six months of her life every year, year after year, happy partnering between a man and a woman depends on effective communication and respect for the powerful influence of her mooncycles. Understanding and conscious partnering during her mooncycles will go far towards bridging the biggest cultural gap in existence today, which exists between men and women, and will open wide the door to greater happiness for yourself and the whole world by bridging it.
Remember, by learning to recognize and successfully manage your monthly mooncycles, including periods of both sexual frenzy and lulls, you will be better equipped to deal with the impact of temporary "lunacy" upon your lives with its sometimes confusing or negative effects. With mental awareness about and emotional preparedness for these predictable cycles, women can now choose and literally plan to "go with the lunar flow." Make no mistake, in doing so, you consciously make your life, your lover's, your family's, your friends, your co-workers, and everyone else's around you smoother and all the more happier. It is my hope you will now agree that when this most natural of biological responses is perceived and understood from an expanded perspective, it turns out that contrary to previous judgments, there's absolutely nothing whatsoever "loony" about it!
Happy cycles to you and yours,
Aloha and A Hui Hou!