Our girls deserve better than silence and ignorance. I’m teaching fertility awareness to my daughters, and I think you should teach your daughters, too.
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Despite my internal desire to avoid it, my period arrived midway through eighth grade. While my friends could count 28 days on a calendar and know to the day when they’d need to be prepared, I guessed and I worried and I panicked and I pleaded:
Please, God. Don’t let me be embarrassed this month.
In college my cycles lengthened abnormally, stretching to 60, then 70, then 90 days.
“It’s probably stress and your eating habits,” the doctor said. “Let’s put you on the pill and see how you are in a few months.”
No bloodwork. No testing. Not even an exam.
I’d been misdiagnosed for a decade and prescribed a band-aid for a gaping wound.
Mainstream Misconceptions are a Danger to Women’s Health
I am troubled by the leap to contraceptives as a cure-all. I am bothered by doctors’ dismissal of of NFP as a valuable tool. It’s a misogynistic attitude with disastrous trickle down: vast numbers of women know precious little about their cycles, and even less about the methods that could potentially save their lives.
Mainstream medicine pathologizes women’s health. It takes a normal, healthy, integral part of her life – her cycle – and transforms it to an illness or condition to be suppressed. On the occasion there is something genuinely amiss, the pill pops up like candy for a petulant, pouting toddler: “Give her this,” the doctor says. “It will help to keep her quiet.”
But why in the world do we ned to be silent? Our womanhood isn’t awkward or wrong. Our daughters need to see their bodies as holy, as beautiful creations of a loving God.
Our silence only breeds confusion. Ignorance cultivates fear.
I’m teaching my daughters fertility awareness. Here’s why you should, too.
Fertility awareness breaks down fear
When we teach our girls to track their cycles, they know to do more than count numbers on a page. They can pinpoint the start of their period through cervical mucus and basal temperature signs.
Fertility awareness alleviates confusion
Girls deserve to know what their discharge means. They need to know what is normal, why it changes, and what part of her cycle it signifies. Learning fertility awareness helps them interpret those signs.
Fertility awareness prevents degradation
Our daughters’ bodies aren’t flawed, and they don’t need a pill to make it work right. Fertility awareness makes that evident, and encourages pride in their feminine characteristics.
Fertility awareness illuminates illness
When our daughters understand fertility awareness, they’ll be more cognizant of warning signs for disorders and disease. They will know the warning signs of pcos, and endometriosis; they can spot nutritional deficits and thyroid deficiencies. We can work together with our daughters to alleviate these issues, with holistic approaches that don’t just triage, but treat.
Misconceptions Against Teaching Fertility Awareness
Now I realize I might be unusual, and there are those who disagree with me wholeheartedly. But the arguments against teaching fertility awareness to our daughters are unfounded, and we need to break through these misconceptions for our daughters’ sake.
Misconception Number One: Fertility awareness is useless for young girls because their cycles are irregular
Incorrect. Cycle irregularity makes girls the perfect candidate for sympto-thermal tracking methods or Creighton observations. As the poster child for irregular periods, this knowledge was a game changer for me.
Misconception Number Two: Teaching the elements of NFP is overwhelming to young girls
Overwhelming, how? If we expect our tween daughters to learn Algebra, Biology, Theology, and the like, why are we assuming they can’t handle knowing how their bodies work?.
Misconception Number Three: Teaching the elements of NFP is scandalous and too much information
What’s scandalous about the beauty of God’s creation? About the wonderful way a woman’s body was made?
There is much to be said for innocence, and society’s working to strip it from our daughters faster than ever before.
But do I believe that arming my daughters with knowledge of their bodies will abet in the destruction of that innocence? Absolutely not. If anything I feel it will empower them, and open their eyes to the beauty of God’s plan for creation. After all, why would you knock down a sand sculpture when you know how much detail went into its creation?
Despite all its protestations of freedoms and equality, our social climate still treats women (and girls) as tools. I want my daughters to know their worth unequivocally, to be an agent for change in our culture of death.
So I’m teaching my daughters fertility awareness. I’m teaching them to advocate for true women’s rights.
Resources for Teaching Fertility Awareness to Girls
Taking Charge of Your Fertility (secular; should be previewed and read with your child)