menstrual massage table at massage greenpoint

Treatment spotlight: Meet the Moon Cycle Massage

Menstrual massage isn’t exactly the trendy new thing, but they’re slowly making their way into the offerings at more spas. It’s a step forward for normalizing periods and women’s bodies. But at Massage Outpost, it’s definitely not a second thought. Their Moon Cycle Massage just might be the gold standard for massage for period pain.

This menstrual massage is the perfect combination of creator and clients. Rachel Beider, owner of Massage Outpost, which boasts locations in DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, founded the clinical practice back in 2008 and was inspired to create the Moon Cycle Massage by a personal experience. When I asked whether her clients were hesitant to speak so openly about their cycles with their massage therapists, she said they see quite the opposite. Their clients have been open about it since before they offered a menstrual massage.

But that wouldn’t be surprising if you’d been to the Brooklyn outpost. Beider consciously created a space for comfort and acceptance. She’s serious about breaking stigmas about any type of shame that comes with our bodies, gender, or size. And though her voice is gentle and soothing, you can tell over the phone that she has the passion to back up what she’s saying. The diverse staff is a point of pride for Massage Outpost, and their diverse clientele is also not given generalized treatment.

Why Massage Outpost is not your average spa

Massage Outpost is a clinical practice. That means, like your doctor, your massage therapist meets with you to discuss your particular problems. They find out what hurts, how much, and how often. They keep your aches, pains, and improvements on file so you don’t start from scratch every time you book a session. Is your regular therapist out of town or off the clock? No problem. Someone else can pick up your treatment right where they left off thanks to the records.

menstrual massage rachel beider
Rachel Beider, founder of Outpost. Photo: Elena Mudd

Beider crafted this massage studio-meets-physical therapy office approach with intention. She wanted to provide “very clinical work that feels warm and relaxing.” It’s an intention that permeates the practice at every level, from the warmth of the staff to the heated therapy beds. And you’re going to want to get comfortable. “Delicious pain, not scary pain” is part of the process here.

Meet their menstrual massage

But what does that look like for a menstrual massage? After all, depending on your typical cramping, you could already be bringing the pain in the door with you. Sign up for the Moon Cycle Massage, and you’re in for an experience on and off the massage table tailored to get you feeling the power of your period and femininity rather than the pain. That starts with talking openly with your therapist about what you’re experiencing as well as your massage preferences and needs.

Although this treatment combines traditional deep tissue massage, Chinese medicine points, and aromatherapy, each session is different. It’s custom tailored to you and your period woes, which means it will look different from your friend’s session. Your therapist will also use a flax and lavender heat pad during the session to apply deep, penetrating heat where you need it most. You’re even treated to a post-massage cup of tea.

But we wanted to dive deeper. Let’s face it, every massage sounds amazing. We wanted to know how each element of this menstrual massage worked to combat your period pain. Find out how each element was chosen specifically by Beider to deliver the most soothing experience possible:

The Heat Pad

You’re probably familiar with the soothing effects of lavender, so we’ll skip that for now. Maybe you don’t reach for heat pads to combat your cramps, but you should. And the one they use at Massage Outpost is special. This pad is an impressive 12 pounds, Beider tells me, meaning it truly drives heat deep into your tender areas.

The Aromatherapy

Rose geranium oil is the chosen scent for melting away your period woes. Ayurvedic medicine has used it for centuries for hormone balance, Beider tells me. It’s the balance between your estrogen and progesterone, or the swinging of the pendulum, that causes our period mood swings and strong emotional reactions. Bringing them in line during your massage will help you leave feeling a little lighter, at least emotionally.

menstrual massage treatment room at massage greenpoint
Photo: Elena Mudd

The Massage

The Moon Cycle Massage typically focuses on stress relief through work on your neck, shoulders and lower back. But, again, this depends on where you need the work most. Point pressure is also used throughout the session. This includes points such as Spleen 6, which is very tender when there’s anything going on with the uterus. Massage and pressure applied here can help with muscle contractions that might be causing you pain. They also frequently use a similar point in the pad of your thumb that helps control headaches during these sessions.

The Tea

Although the tea comes at the end of the service, it doesn’t mean the Moon Cycle Massage is over. The drink, which is a raspberry leaf tea, is part of the service and selected by Beider. This tea, known for its plant-based therapeutic benefits, can help banish your cramps. So the menstrual massage with aromatherapy will ease any pains you have and then the tea and time to relax will keep it at bay even longer. Sounds glorious, right?

How to get the most out of your menstrual massage

It can feel like you’re glowing post-massage. That’s never more important than when you’re getting a menstrual massage and we’re talking about keeping those horrible cramps away longer. So how do you make the feeling last as long as possible? We tapped Beider for tips to maintaining your glow after you leave the cozy spa behind.

First of all, take some time to actually absorb what happened and check in with your body. “The mind body connection is so strong,” Beider notes. “It sounds woowoo, but people don’t understand just how strong it actually is.” That’s why she wants you to take some time and actually enjoy feeling good after your Moon Cycle Massage.

menstrual massage greenpoint spa
Photo: Elena Mudd

Although, yes, she suggests you stretch and drink plenty of water after your treatment, Beider is most concerned that you spend some time slowing down. Put on some tunes and drown out the city sounds, she suggests. Even better, sit still and feel how the treatment worked. Do some breathing work and just be still for a change.

What if I’m feeling nervous about a menstrual massage?

It’s doubtful you could give the menstrual massage a try at a more welcoming and comforting spa. In addition to their inclusive environment, Massage Outpost boasts staffers that simply want to help you feel better. “Your weight is the least interesting thing about you,” Beider notes. “Your skin and muscles tell a story about you. Scars and freckles tell a story. Nobody is airbrushed.” For Beider, it’s much more fascinating to see how your muscles have held onto your experiences and helping you work through the patterns causing you problems.

Beider speaks passionately about opening up space, and how their treatments do that in two ways for their clients. When you open up physical space, you also open up emotional space, she tells me. That’s why the sessions also involve some stretching elements.

But if you’re simply bloated and feel like it isn’t exactly making you want to strip down and climb on a table, Beider understands but still encourages you to come give it a try. She believes in the healing environment she has created and the practices they follow. You’ll be covered and comfortable when your massage therapist isn’t working on an area, she assures. Plus, you might just leave with less bloat than when you came in.

The dirt on the Moon Cycle Massage

You can book your menstrual massage through Massage Outpost’s page, or Massage Williamsburg’s page for their Moon Cycle Massage. You’ll need to call for less than 2 hours notice, but that gives you a pretty big window. You’ll pay $130 for 60 minutes and $185 for 90. You can also book the treatment at its sister spa, Massage Greenpoint through the service’s page.