Photo by Elizabeth Albert

Photo by Elizabeth Albert

For some people fertility awareness is not the right kind of birth control. It doesn’t sing to them, or they have a problem putting too much attention on their pelvis for various reasons, or they have too little “infertile time” due to a hormonal imbalance of life phase. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the knowledge of how their bodies work.

Fertility awareness is simply the act of trying to figure out when you are fertile. What I teach, the sympto-thermal method, is the most accurate of the fertility awareness methods in figuring that fertile window out (which also makes it the most effective for birth control!).

I think we should teach fertility awareness in sex ed.

So why do I think that we should be teaching kids this stuff when it has to do with birth control? Especially when it is a birth control method that takes a little more knowledge and work than some of the other methods that are considered teen friendly by the majority of the population.

Here’s the deal, fertility awareness can be used as a birth control method, of course, but the knowledge covers a lot more than how to figure out when you are fertile and using it as birth control.

 

Here are the things that anyone would benefit from knowing…

You can only get pregnant for part of the cycle. It’s not every single day, and your body has a good system for showing you when that is.

Cervical fluid is natural. Not every time you notice something at your vaginal opening will it be some kind of infection rearing it’s head. It’s normally going to be part of a cyclical pattern that you can observe, telling you everything is going along great.

Your reproductive system isn’t dirty. Everything plays it’s part and it’s all doing what it does for a reason. There is no reason to be ashamed of anything your body is doing.

Having a baseline idea of how your body is so you do know when something is actually wrong. You may have thought that any time you have vaginal “discharge” you should be worried, but usually it’s totally normal. If you know what normal is for you there is a good chance you will be able to spot abnormal quickly.

Your body knows what it’s doing, it’s pretty smart. All of the processes involved in fertility and the menstrual cycle are pretty damn amazing when you notice them and know the purpose they serve.

If you don’t keep balance in your life you often throw your body off-balance, too. You can see the early stages of hormonal imbalance when you are charting your cycles, or even sometimes just paying attention to them. How awesome would it be if a young girl noticed something changing and was able to reflect back on what may be different in her life that could have caused it?

Your body is amazing, and that’s not just because of the way it looks. Your body does a lot for you, and the process it goes through is nothing short of astounding, especially that it can do it correctly cycle after cycle.

An understanding of what your period is and how it plays out in their cycle. Dare I say it, even an appreciation for your period.

An understanding of how your attitudes and feelings might change throughout the cycle, and that’s ok. If you had the basic understanding as a teen that you might get righteously angry at certain times, or there may be days you need to take care of yourself more than others that can be very helpful. For some women even just paying attention to her cycles and knowing this can stop bad period pain and PMS.

A way of getting in touch with your body. Fertility awareness helps you not only know when they are fertile, but be able to observe how other things happen and play out.

 

I dream of a world where everyone has the basic knowledge of how female and male reproduction works. Where we aren’t afraid that it will lead to more unplanned pregnancies and earlier ages of first intercourse. Where women know exactly what is going on with their bodies and men respect how they are feeling, even if it is “that time of month”. Where everyone is given their full and complete options when learning about birth control and deciding what to use for their own situation, and where practitioners know how to read women’s charts and can perform less of the invasive tests.

What else do you think teens would get out of learning fertility awareness? Tell me in the comments below!

 

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Comments

  1. Totally agree, Hannah! Working with teens and girls is something I want to do too! I feel that if I had known about what fertility awareness (and the sympto-thermal method) as a teen I wouldn’t have felt like my only effective choice was the pill.

    • Thanks for the comment, Liz! We definitely need people in schools teaching fertility awareness. Even if the teens don’t want to use it’s so good for them to know how their bodies work!

  2. I’m a homeschooling mom of a 12 year old and you can guarantee I’ll be teaching my daughter this. Not as sex ed but physiology ed. I was talking with a friend of mine a month ago and telling her this same thing. I believe a class should be given in high school that would include an almost school year long project requiring the girls to chart their basal temps. I plan on requiring my daughter to learn this. I think it’s one of the best pieces of knowledge I can pass onto her.

  3. I’ve recently started volunteering with an organization focused on empowering girls. I really hope to get involved in the program’s sex ed week and help tweak the program to focus more on the details of how their bodies work (also from a physiological perspective). I totally agree with both Robin and Liz that it’s super important information for teens (and young girls) to learn. Especially in Texas where most schools barely graze the surface and many young girls (sadly) don’t know what a period is.

  4. I agree! I’ve started charting in the last year, and it’s been pretty exciting. I have an irregular cycle, so I assumed it would just be totally all over the place. Instead I’m starting to see some clear patterns, and that’s made me feel much more aware of what my body’s up to. I think it would be an awesome thing to teach students in health classes.