This article is part of a four-part mini-series about the different phases of the female cycle (the menstrual cycle or the moon cycle, depending on whether you’re pre-, peri- or post-menopausal). You can find the other three parts here:

Part 1 – Inner Winter (Menstruation / Dark Moon)
Part 2 – Inner Spring (Follicular Phase / Waxing Moon Phase)
Part 3 – Inner Summer (Ovulation / Full Moon)

If you prefer listening to it instead, HERE‘s my podcast episode on the Inner Autumn.

Welcome to this little introduction to the four phases of your cycle!

Since very few of us are taught at home or at school what a miracle our body, and especially the menstrual cycle is, I hope this four-part series will help you make sense of and appreciate everything that’s going on inside of you during the different phases over the course of a month.

Because your cycle doesn’t only work you on a physical level. It also influences your emotional, mental and spiritual-energetic experience and well-being.

And especially if you struggle with menstrual problems, such as irregular cycles, painful bleeds, PMS (PreMenstrual Syndrome), PMDD (PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), endometriosis or PCOS), it’s important to first of all understand what’s happening on the different levels during each phase – to help you put your experience into perspective, and also find the words to express what’s going on, so you feel less alone.

Below, I’ll explain what’s happening in each cycle phase – or inner season – on each of these four levels, and provide one practice and one journaling question to connect more deeply with the energetic quality of the respective phase, so you can explore your personal experience with it and the medicine it holds.

Because overall, a cycle is regenerative by nature. And when you consciously make space for each phase and learn to appreciate its respective flavours, you will see your cycle as a source of strength and (inner) power, providing you with all the energy you need to enjoy the fun things in life.

A note on the word “cycle”

Life is inherently cyclical, and every cycle shows the same four phases: A phase of inspiration and new beginnings (spring), a phase of growth and blooming (summer), a phase of harvest and reflection (autumn) and a phase of rest and dying (winter) – which in turn, prepares the ground for new inspiration in spring.

And since we are part of Nature, we humans are cyclical, too, surrounded and influenced by different cycles all the time. (So from a purely logical standpoint, the idea that you should be, feel or show up the same every day is complete BS – and that’s a good thing!)

There’s the menstrual cycle, the moon cycle, the yearly cycle and the pregnancy cycle. Our life and the planets have their own cycles, too, even projects at work. And they all show the same four phases, with very similar characteristics.

In my case, since I mainly work with women and menstruating people, when I talk of “the cycle”, I specifically refer to the menstrual and the moon cycle. Because whether or not you’re still bleeding, and whether or not you have a uterus and/or ovaries – if you are a (cis- or trans-) woman or a non-binary menstruator, you have a cycle. Yes, even in perimenopause and post menopause!

I firmly believe that as women and/or menstruators, what happens during perimenopause is that we transition from the menstrual to the moon cycle. So in post-menopause, your energy flow is probably more in line with the moon’s cycle. As I said, we are all cyclical beings at all times, it’s only the length and basis of the cycle that differ over time.

And of course, if you’re post-menopause or don’t have uterus and/or ovaries, you will not be influenced by the physical aspects of the cycle as much, because the hormonal shifts aren’t as pronounced as if you had a menstrual cycle. But still, when you start paying attention to this, I’m pretty sure you are going to find subtle energetic rhythms in your body.

The Inner Autumn: Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase or Waning Moon Phase

[In the first three parts of this series, I already discussed the Inner Winter (the time of menstruation or Dark Moon), the Inner Spring (the Follicular Phase or Waxing Moon phase) and the Inner Summer (ovulation or the Full Moon) in great detail. If you want to read them before diving into Inner Autumn, you can do that HERE (Inner Winter), HERE (Inner Spring) and HERE (Inner Summer) – but it’s not a prerequisite to understand today’s episode!
Nonetheless, I strongly recommend reading them at some point, so you get a complete overview of the whole cycle.]

In a menstrual cycle, the Inner Autumn refers to the Luteal and the Premenstrual Phase. That’s the time period right after ovulation all the way until your next bleed and typically lasts for 10-14 days.

I’m going to explain why I distinguish between an Early Autumn phase and a Late Autumn phase in more detail in a moment, but very briefly:
In the first half of Inner Autumn, directly after ovulation, progesterone levels rise and you may feel more creative, happy, calm and relaxed. Once progesterone levels start to decline again, you enter the premenstrual phase which can be a real challenge for some people.

If you don’t menstruate, for example if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding, in peri- or post-menopause or you don’t have a uterus and/or ovaries, Inner Autumn is the time of the Waning Moon phase, when the moon gradually reflects less and less light back to us from the sun.
Energetically speaking, this phase runs from the second day after Full Moon until two days before Dark Moon (also called New Moon).

In terms of a life cycle, this is the journey through perimenopause. It’s about becoming the sovereign of your life, the person who knows who they are and what they’re here for, what they want from life. Who doesn’t allow other people’s opinions to derail them from what feels right and true FOR THEM.

While the first half of life (Spring and Summer) was characterised by an outward focus – maybe building a career, achieving things in the world and/or nurturing a family – now the focus is slowly turning inwards, starting a process of internal decluttering and becoming aware of what you want the second half of your life to look like. What you want to say Yes to, but more importantly, what you want to say No to and tolerate no longer.

That’s why the themes of Inner Autumn are retreat and reconnection with the deep, inner truth, and a decluttering and acknowledging of (personal) lessons learned.

What happens during Inner Autumn (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase) on a physical level?

If you have a menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise right after ovulation and you enter the luteal phase. Progesterone is the predominant sex hormone during this phase and is produced by the so-called “corpus luteum” – the leftover follicle from which the egg was released.

Progesterone prompts the body to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy, if the egg gets fertilised. It’s a calming hormone, so during this first half of Inner Autumn you might feel creative, relaxed, confident and optimistic. For me personally, this is my most creative time that comes with an inner sense of groundedness and calm.

[If you remember Inner Spring (or read up about it HERE), the predominant hormone back then was estrogen, the “caring hormone” which takes care of your brain, bone and heart health, but can also lead to you caring more about others – about their well-being, yes, but also about their opinion of you. And now, in Inner Autumn, the “calming hormone” progesterone is prevalent, so you actually care less about what others think of you and are better able to concentrate on what’s actually important to YOU.]

If the egg isn’t fertilised, progesterone levels will decrease again, the calming, almost sedative effect wears off and the Premenstrual Phase begins. Now it’s very possible that you feel vulnerable, anxious and exposed.

If you don’t have a menstrual cycle, you might not experience the hormonal fluctuations as much anymore, yet I believe you can still feel the influences of the waning moon on your body. As the moonlight wanes and decreases, your energy levels also decrease and you may feel the impulse to retreat back within.

Since you, like most of us, have probably grown up and live in a society that tells you to stay in high-rising energy of Spring and Summer and Spring and Summer – basically staying young and fertile and THAT is a different conversation for another day –, this cycle phase can cause alarm in your brain.

Your energy decreases, you’re no longer able to ride the high energy wave and your nervous system freaks out, because it’s trained to push you to be “on” and productive all the time. So especially during this phase, it’s important to take extra good care of your nervous system. For example with practices that soothe your nervous system (like meditation, yoga, but also simply a walk in nature and less input through news or social media), or by directly stimulating your vagus nerve, the main nerve for relaxation in your body.

What happens during Inner Autumn (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase) on an emotional level?

Like with the other cycle phases, your emotional experience of Inner Autumn can be anywhere on a whole spectrum and might even change throughout this season.

Especially during the first half of Early Inner Autumn, when progesterone is high, it’s possible that you still feel magnetic, powerful and creative. Or calm and grounded. And then at some point, this changes and the second part of this phase, the Premenstruum, can become really challenging.

You might feel sensitive, vulnerable, exposed. Or extremely angry. Or depressed. All of this especially if you suffer from PMS (PreMenstrual Syndrome) or PMDD (PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is basically PMS on steroids. It can really feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.

There can be physical symptoms (migraines, water retention, tension or tenderness in your breasts) as well as extreme mood swings – all the way to suicidal ideation, because it might seem like things will never get better again. And since this state can last for up to two weeks, this phase can indeed be very difficult to cope with.

I don’t want to downplay this. AND also, I want to tell you that in case you experience PMS or PMDD, there is hope!

In my training as a Female Health practitioner, specialising in Menstrual and Perimenopausal Health, I learned how we (you and I together) can support your body, heart, mind and soul, so your system can get back into homeostasis, the internal balance where symptoms subside. And even just understanding what happens in your system during this phase can already bring relief, so I hope my article can contribute to that.

And if you don’t want to go through this alone any longer, if you want someone experienced by your side, who will walk beside you for a while – and you believe I could be that person – book a free discovery call with me. We’re going to discuss what you’re currently going through, where you want to be in 3-6 months’ time with regards to your health and how I can best support you on your journey!

What happens during Inner Autumn (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase) on a mental-psychological level?

Inner Autumn is our truth-speaking time – and the truth isn’t always easy or pleasant to express, but usually a necessary and healing experience! So during this time, you might find yourself going about your day and letting people know your truth; even though that can lead to conflict. Some things just need to be expressed and addressed to be changed!

It’s a time when your attention slowly turns inward again and you (re)connect with the deep inner truth of who you are, why you’re here, what difference you want to make through your life and/or your work. And you might find that you’re not yet living this truth. That your life looks quite different to what you desire, or that you have built your life around society’s or other people’s expectations.

This realisation often comes at a subconscious level, it’s not necessarily a conscious thought of yours. So no wonder you might feel a sense of inner disconnect and separation, especially during this cycle phase; creating inner conflict, internal stress and pressure. Which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of physical symptoms and emotional reactions, including anger and sacred rage.

(Which are absolutely valid, by the way, because the systems and structures we live in aren’t exactly designed to support us in following our inner truth and leading a happy, healthy, relaxed life … quite the contrary!)

This shows how tightly the physical, emotional and mental level are connected and interwoven! (Subconscious) thoughts create emotions, which in turn have physical effects, and they all influence each other. In my opinion, this is a huge contributing factor to menstrual issues like PMS or PMDD.

On some level you sense that this is not what life is meant to be like – it’s not meant to be this hard, it’s not meant to be joyless. But as long as you don’t have the words or the context to express it, the frustration is somewhat nebulous and difficult to bear. So this phase is a true invitation for you to live life more on your own terms.

Luckily, Inner Autumn is also a time of reflection; gaining insights and understanding what you’ve learned (about yourself, about others, about Life) over the course of this cycle and evaluating and releasing what’s no longer working for you. Because the more closely you’re connected to yourself and the more you know your own truth, what works for you and what you need, the better you will understand what you don’t want to tolerate any longer and what you need to let go of.

Of course, this can lead to internal and external conflict as well. External, because not everyone around you will approve of you changing and prioritising yourself. And internally, because your thoughts become (self-)critical.

The Inner Autumn tends to be the time when a lot of your “shadows” come up, parts of yourself you’ve separated from and shoved aside, because you’ve learned (from society, from family, from friends) that they weren’t welcome. In other cycle phases you’ve got more energetic capacity to keep them suppressed, but in Inner Autumn, when your energy starts waning, they rise to the surface.

And it’s helpful to be aware of this, so you can a) make preparations and find ways to deal with them safely (for yourself and others) and b) you’re less surprised when the critical voices appear and can create some distance to them, maybe even cultivate compassion – both for them and for yourself.

For example, there are certain tapping techniques (EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique) that help you process difficult and uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Or you simply write down everything that’s running through your head, allow all thoughts to flow on paper, and see if there’s a central theme to them. Because 99% of your critical thoughts are complete BS – but what’s the 1% of truth in there? What’s the piece that needs to shift so you can lead your life more in line with yourself, with your truth? What can you adjust so your life feels more like you, not a mask you need to wear?

And especially if you suffer from PMS or PMDD and intense mood swings, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where am I not being true to myself? Where/in which situations can I not remain true to myself due to the circumstances I’m in? When do I put on a mask or play a role?
  • What is a mini-shift I can make, so that I can be 1% more of myself? So I can say what I want to say or do what I want to do, and be(come) that kind of person that I sense I am on the inside?
  • And how can I support myself, how can I take care of myself and my needs just 1% more?

What happens during Inner Autumn (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase) on a spiritual-energetic level?

Even though you might not consider yourself very spiritual or believe it’s all “esoteric nonsense”:

Inner Autumn is the time when your senses are heightened and you’re more in touch with your intuition. You can access this instinctual knowing that’s not (just) in your head, but stored in your body and your soul. Your body receives so much information every day that your brain just can’t process, so no wonder there are moments during this cycle phase where you simply KNOW things.

And maybe you also feel a connection to something that is bigger than you, to a loving presence in the Universe, to the Divine. Whether you believe in God or the Goddess (or a certain goddess), in Allah, the Universe, Source – or if you simply feel connected to nature.

It’s this presence that tells you that you don’t have to hold and carry everything alone. That there is so much more that you can lean on for support and nourishment, and that it’s okay to allow yourself to be held for a while.

Journaling in Inner Autumn (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase)

If you enjoy the practice of journaling, here’s a question to ponder in your Inner Autumn:
“What do I need to let go of to become the version of myself I want to be right now?
What needs to be released for me to become the version of myself that I want to step into?”

Set yourself a timer for 5-10 minutes and then just start writing!

Sometimes some really interesting, maybe even surprising things rise to the surface that no longer work for you and that are ready to be released. Outdated thought patterns and beliefs, but also relationships that are draining instead of nourishing.

And you can directly take these things into your Inner Winter (your bleed or the Dark Moon phase), which is all about releasing and shedding and composting the Old to make room for the New!

Inner Autumn Practice (Luteal-/Premenstrual Phase / Waning Moon Phase)

The Inner Autumn practice is all about reflection and integration.

On the one hand, it’s about harvesting: Looking back and reviewing the past three cycle phases and distilling what went well, what was difficult, which lessons you learned and what kind of intention you would like to set for the next cycle (after the shedding and some well-deserved rest in Inner Winter).

On the other hand, it’s about decluttering and sorting out the things that no longer work for you and your life – that can be on any level and in any area of your life.

Maybe it’s your physical surroundings that need some decluttering and organising, to let go of objects that no longer bring you joy. Or it could be difficult and intense emotions, like rage or grief, that need to be processed and released. Or those thought patterns and beliefs that keep your nervous system on edge and that you no longer wish to carry.

Your Cycle – a monthly process of evolution and growth

Wow, that was a lot of information on the Inner Autumn – the most complex and challenging cycle phase of all, if you ask me.

Maybe now you understand what I mean by saying that your cycle “works you” on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual-energetic. At first sight, all of this might seem unreliable and uncontrollable, but in reality, there’s a certain dependability to it, a steady rhythm – just on a monthly basis, and our mind needs to get used to this.

It’s not like women and menstruating people are “unstable”, “emotional” or “unreliable”, as it is often portrayed in a derogatory and dismissive way!

But it’s basically a process of Death (Inner Winter) and Rebirth (Inner Spring) that you go through every month, and I find that really remarkable – and definitely not easy to navigate! With every cycle, though, you come a little closer to yourself, your deep, inner truth.

And when you explore and befriend your cycle, it’s going to be easier to understand the fluctuations over the course of a day, a week and a month and you’re less surprised or concerned when certain things happen in a particular phase (as I shared earlier, the inner critical voices are typically loudest during Inner Autumn). This doesn’t only foster a more loving relationship with yourself, it can also be helpful when you’re living together with other people.

For example, when your close ones know what you need in a certain phase and how they can support you. Or how you can support the people around you in their respective cycles.

And in the end, consciously journeying this process of Death and Rebirth, your cyclical experience, will also help you navigate the bigger and often challenging life transitions with more ease, compassion and confidence. Practicing how to release one version of yourself to create space for something New on a monthly basis, will help you support yourself through transitions like a miscarriage, the end of an important relationship, becoming a mother or parent, empty-nest or moving through the perimenopause transition.

[And if you don’t want to move through those kinds of times alone, I offer support through challenging life transitions and crises! You can find out more about my services HERE, or book a free consultation to get to know each other.]

Further Resources

I want to point out again that this was only the basic overview of an archetypal cycle. As you may have noticed, there’s a whole spectrum of experiences on every level, especially in Inner Autumn, and your personal experience is unique to you and can look very different to what I’ve described. This article is just a starting point for your exploration, so you know what to look out for, what to expect, what it can feel like.

In case you have any questions, you can ask them here or send me a voice message.

But in the end, your experience is unique and can change over the course of your life cycle, so it’s really about charting your personal cycle to explore what the luteal/premenstrual or waning moon phase is like for YOU. What do you experience in your Inner Autumn? What’s present in you? What is your energetic capacity like? Where does your Inner Autumn experience fall onto the spectrum I described (or even goes beyond that)?

A simple entryway is my free tiny course on cycle charting: “Unlock the Healing Power of Your Cycle”
It includes a short explanation of the different cycle phases, my super simply approach and a cycle chart to fill in and explore – everything you need to start charting your cycle right away.

Learn to speak the language of your body and uncover the innate healing power of your cycle!

For me personally, charting my cycle helps me feel more grounded and present in my own life – and that’s my sincerest wish for you, too. I want you to understand with every cell of your being, not just from a logical perspective, that you are unique and wonder-ful just the way you are! That there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, nothing that needs to be “fixed” or “repaired”, neither about you nor about your body, because you’re not broken. You are an incredible and powerful being!

And if you want to dive even deeper and have a facilitated heart-to-heart with your own cycle (whether you menstruate or not), I offer Sacred Cycle Deep Dive sessions. Because I can teach you all I know and give you all the tips you want, in the end your cycle can teach you better – it can even offer you support and guidance through life.

Especially, but not only, if you experience menstrual or perimenopausal health challenges, I know that your cycle has messages for you. So during this Deep Dive session I will ask you and your cycle very specific questions that will help you make sense of the messages. While there’s value in me explaining what’s going on inside the body and providing the necessary context, it’s infinitely more powerful for you to experience that the answers lie indeed inside of you already – you will form a much stronger bond with your cycle and deeply understand that it isn’t here to annoy or play tricks on you, but to be your best friend and ally.

Because I want you to feel safe, happy, healthy and (w)holy in your body and build this unique and beautiful relationship. And a good relationship is always based on open and effective communication. That’s why the Sacred Cycle Deep Dive comes with a special practice to foster and strengthen this communication once we’ve started it.

But whether you just start charting your cycle, or you want to dive deeper with me, be sure to subscribe to my Mo(o)nday Musings! They are my weekly e-letters on Mo(o)nday mornings, to start the week more grounded and connected to yourself and your body:

And don’t forget to read the other three articles of this 4-part series, to better understand how your cycle influences you on all four levels over the course of a month: