Can A Full Moon Really Affect Your Health?

full moon

Whether you’re someone who reads their horoscopes every week religiously or you dismiss them as vague captions that could be interpreted in hundreds of ways, there can be no denying that astrology is becoming increasingly popular. With a full moon on 14th September, you can expect plenty of full moon rituals and astrological predictions to fill your newsfeeds. For those who don’t keep up-to-date with the position of the moon, we’re in the midst of Virgo season and the full moon, also known as the Harvest Moon, falls in the sign of Pisces this month. According to astrologers, it’s the time to refine your organisational skills and put plans into action.  

While you could write this off as gobbledygook, it might interest you that the scientific world has been exploring how the lunar cycle affects our health for years. Admittedly the studies have been small and few and far between, but there is enough to continue the research and attempt to separate the science from the folklore. 

Are menstrual and lunar cycles linked?

With both moon and menstrual cycles lasting around 28 days, it’s easy to see why the two have been linked in the past. ‘Mooning’ is still a term used by some when they’re on their period and there are apps that will track your menstrual cycle along side the moon’s. A tiny study in 2005 found that women who ovulated during the full moon and fell pregnant at this time were more likely to have sons. However, the concept of aligning your menstrual cycle with the moon’s is tricky as lifestyle, genetics and hormones play key roles. 

Can a full moon affect our mood?

For years there have been whisperings of the full moon altering people’s moods. A three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds in 1998 found that the number of violent incidents spiked during the days either side of a full moon.

Ten years ago a study monitored the amount of patients admitted to the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre at Calvary Mater Newcastle in Australia. Out of the 91 patients with violent and acute behavioural disturbance, 21 occurred during the full moon, which equated to twice as many compared to other lunar phases. Two year prior to this, the police force in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after they carried out research which found there was a rise in violent incidents.

Before you get carried away and start to fret about your mood dipping and anger levels rising this weekend, it’s important to note that all of these studies were very small and more recent research by the Eastern Ontario Research Institute ruled out any impact on behaviour. The study focused on the effects a full moon had on the behaviour and sleep patterns of 5812 children from five continents over the course of two months and concluded that it had no impact on the former.  

“Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people’s behavior,”  said the study leader, Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. The only significant finding was the 1% sleep alteration in full moon.”

What about our sleep patterns?

Dr Chaput isn’t alone in his findings. The most credible study on sleep and lunar phases took place in 2013 and suggested that the amount of deep sleep we get each night can drop by around 30 percent at the time of a full moon. According to the University of Basel in 2013, not only does it take five minutes longer to drift off, but we can lose up to 20 minutes of sleep a night. Interestingly, the study ruled out the effect of light causing the sleep disruption by asking participants to sleep in a windowless room. They did note a drop in melatonin levels around the time of a full moon, which would explain why you might find it harder to fall asleep but not why to dip in levels occurs. 

However, at least come the next full moon you can ensure you don’t miss any sleep by incorporating Cherry Night by Viridian into your evening routine. Cherries can help top-up your melatonin levels and help you to drift off regardless of the position of the moon.

Should We Be Opting For Reusable Sanitary Products?

Menstrual Cups

Few of us give our monthly period much thought or attention until it arrives. So much so, the majority of us, 67% to be specific, buy the same brand and type of sanitary product each and every month. Considering the British period product market was valued at £265.8m last year by research company Mintel, that’s impressive brand loyalty – or an indication of our total lack of interest in giving that time-of-the-month any more attention than is absolutely necessary.

Slowly but surely the tide is beginning to change though and a small amount of us are starting to consider our choice of sanitary products. This month, the BBC reported a decrease in the amount spent on tampons and towels. While some experts put this down to supermarket discounts and offers, others believe it could be part of a bigger movement championing reusable options. Most of us know at least one person who uses a moon cup each month rather than the more traditional options, but is it time we all made the move to reusable sanitary products?

How does our choice of sanitary products affect the environment?

There’s no doubt that our overuse of plastics and the impact that it’s having on the environment is huge news at the moment, and a topic that is unlikely to simmer down any time soon. Over the past couple of years, our awareness has shifted to the effect our disposable tampons and towels can have on the environment.

Most tampons are made from a blend of rayon, wood pulp, cotton and synthetic substances, although as they’re not deemed as a medical product manufacturers do not have to reveal the full list of ingredients. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, which is a considerable amount of plastic to end up in the landfill, or the sea.

What about our health?

Your vagina is one of the most absorbent areas of your body and some experts believe that due to the volume of tampons we use in our lifetime, the small amount of chemicals used in tampons could potentially cause health issues. However, there is currently no scientific research to back up this claim.

TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is regularly associated with tampons. However, TSS is caused by a build-up of bacteria and therefore, can occur if you’re using a moon cup or a tampon. If TSS is your biggest concern, then it’s worth opting for sanitary towels, and reusable ones if you want to tick the environmental box too.

What are your options?

Go organic: Even 100% cotton tampons will take a long time to decompose. However, brands such as NatraCare offer a variety of plastic-free sanitary towel and tampon options that are worth exploring if you want to make a more conscious choice without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.

Reusable options: From reusable tampon applicators and sanitary towels to moon cups, there are plenty of options for those wanting to seriously cut down their waste. Moon cups are the most common reusable sanitary products available and have seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Aside from the environmental benefits that the medical-grade silicone cup offers, there are also monetary gains to be made as the £21 purchase lasts for years.

While there’s very little doubt that reusable sanitary products is market that is going to continue to grow, it is a matter of personal preference and making the change from a throwaway tampon to a moon cup can take time. In terms of the money you’ll save in the long run though, it’s definitely worth considering…

Endometriosis And Me

bianca-presto

You know that flutter of a feeling you get when something is wrong? An inkling deep down in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t all together copasetic? Groovy in the gastro? Positive in the pelvis? Call it intuition or what you will, there’s something to be said for “knowing” and listening to your own body, trusting your ahem, gut when it comes to your health.

In my case, my “gut feeling” presented itself in my teens. I was late-ish to get my period, at least compared to all my friends. So much so that aged 14 when Aunt Flow finally arrived at school, the boys in my class cheered! From that point on, my period was about as reliable as London’s transport system. Sometimes it would come, sometimes it would arrive twice in one month, and sometimes it would go on strike just for the hell of it.

Coupled with an unreliable period, I was dealt a case of crippling pain whenever said period decided to show up. Now I’ve had a kid, so I can wholeheartedly say, without any hesitation, that I’d rather give birth 10 times over than ever experience those period pains again. It got to the point I was petrified my period would come and worse, that I’d need a number two because boy oh boy, that’s when the sh*t really hit the fan. Oh, and sex a little later in my teens wasn’t much fun either. I mean it never is at that age, but every time it felt like I was losing my virginity all over again and quite frankly no one wants to relive that. Ever.

It’s the early 90s in South Africa and like every good girl I went to see our family gynaecologist – (they literally get passed down through two generations or so let’s just say he’d seen his fair share) and his recommendation was to put me on the contraceptive pill. “To control the periods and manage the pain.” That’s it. No further exploration, no possibility that it could’ve been anything untoward and certainly no mention of the word ‘Endometriosis’.

Fast forward to my early 20s (almost ten years living with chronic pain), I’m now making a life for myself in London with my boyfriend, who would go on to become my husband. It turns out that he doesn’t think holding me whilst I’m doubled over in pain on the toilet is the most romantic start to our relationship, so we started researching. And researching. Everything we read leads us to believe I’m suffering with Endometriosis, a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus grows outside of it.

But, getting a diagnosis or treatment in those days was incredibly hard. So off we trot to our local GP, armed with all our notes and most importantly, my personal experiences. After a few months, I’m finally diagnosed. “Apologies for the delay to your service, there’s an obstruction on the line”.

With one of the worst cases the consultant had ever seen, I spent the next few years undergoing numerous laparoscopy treatments (a procedure where a laser is inserted through your belly button to burn away scar tissue) having my internal organs separated from each other as a result of years of internal bleeding, which had caused them to fuse together. It turns out I was trying to poop with my bowel attached to my back. I don’t say this to gross you out but, so you understand what a mess it was in there.

At this point, my husband and I were told that the likelihood of me ever conceiving naturally were low. On the flip side, if we did manage to fall pregnant, it was highly likely that after giving birth my endometriosis symptoms would ease off, if not stop entirely.  I was in my mid-twenties, babies were not on the agenda yet, but to be told there’s every chance you may not fall pregnant, ever, is a sucker punch to an already wrecked stomach.

We tried of course. Valiantly took on the challenge until we eventually had to admit defeat a few years later and ask for medical intervention. Throughout the IVF process my thoughts were consumed by first and foremost, a happy, healthy baby and secondly, that this could (bonus) be the end of years and years of chronic pain. Almost eight years later, said baby is indeed happy and healthy and my endometriosis? Well it’s still there, albeit a duller, more bearable throb but enough to remind me of the surgeon’s words as I lay on the delivery table, during an emergency c-section “good grief, it’s a mess in here, a road map of scar tissue”.

Turns out my intuition was right all along and ultimately played itself out as our daughter arrived into the world to the dulcet tones of ACDC’s ‘Highway to Hell’.