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The Full Moon and Our Hormones

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Think all that stuff about full moon causing period and hormone changes is crazy? In fact, there is a scientific explanation for the effect of light on fertility.  Before nightlights and alarm clocks, women slept in the dark most of the time.  The only time they were exposed to light while sleeping was from the moon.  The skin on the eyelids is very thin, and the retina still recognizes exposure to light even when our eyes are closed.  Many animals in nature have hormonal cycles that are directly related to light cycles.  This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Premenstrual mood swings
  2. Infertility

In some women, artificial light in the bedroom can lead to menstrual irregularities as well as irregularities in fertile cervical mucous.  In fact, there is strong evidence showing that even severe mood swings before menses can be traced back to light exposure at night.  Some women are much more sensitive to night time light exposure than others.  It is believed that this is because of complicated hormonal interactions.

Serotonin is produced during exposure to light.  Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects mood as well as other neurotransmitters.  After dark, serotonin levels drop.  This is why many people experience seasonal depression when they are not exposed to enough light during the day.  Their serotonin levels get too low.  If people are exposed to too much light at night, their serotonin levels never drop off at night.  This causes prolactin to increase.  Prolactin is the hormone responsible for making nursing moms infertile.  Increased night prolactin levels, specifically between 1am and 6am, keep the body from becoming pregnant.   Infertility from prolactin is a protective mechanism to keep the woman from becoming too depleted from nursing while carrying a new baby.  Being exposed to light at night triggers a similar hormonal response.  Prolactin levels increase and fertility decreases.  Women with hormone related mood changes often report substantially more rage and anger when they have light exposure at night.  Again, some women may be much more sensitive to this than others.

Light at night  →  serotonin change   →   higher prolactin   →  reproductive hormone change.

Consider blocking out all of the light in your bedroom.  Even cover the alarm clock.  Turn off any night-lights and have curtains over the window.  You may open the curtains when there is a full moon for some light exposure.  If you have severe mood swings before your period, you MUST avoid night time light exposure!

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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