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I Trust Teens

“Hey mum,” said my thirteen year old this morning,”I think I am still seeing cervical mucus, but it’s a bit thicker and not as clear as it was a few days ago. Do you think I ovulated?”. 

This is a typical conversation between me and my daughters on any given day. Is this weird? Not at all. My girls understand their bodies through THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE of it. This is a completely different perspective than I had growing up. In my teens and twenties, I was influenced about my body through OTHERS EXPERIENCE OF IT. I actually don’t remember thinking about how my reproductive body worked at all when I was a teen. I only cycled for a year before I went on the pill at 16, and didn’t think about my cycle until I went off the pill at 25, and I didn’t actually learn what was going on until I was in my 30’s. . 

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s had its perks of course, and it also had its blinders. Because I am so deep in the Menstrual Cycle Awareness and Fertility Education world, I often forget that having knowledge of the way our cycles are intertwined

with our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual lives is not the norm. I’m a little removed from the school system, because we have always homeschooled, but I’m pretty sure teen girls are not being taught the skills of cycle awareness and fertility education from the perspective of Menstrual Health. 

My girls have grown up in a very body literate, menstrual affirmative house. It’s been an ongoing, organic process, with thousands of conversations, and an open, humble learning environment. I am still learning. I think there is a bit of a fear around the topic of educating Teen girls about their bodies. Many people have expressed to me that it scares them and is a delicate subject. While I see where the apprehensiveness comes from, I really believe in providing empowering, accurate education, instead of the traditional fear-based model that the generations before experienced (and may sometimes still be experiencing). 

"I really believe in providing empowering, accurate education, instead of the traditional fear-based model that the generations before experienced."

I am really passionate about accurately educating young women about how their bodies, and especially menstrual cycles, are always communicating with them. It’s full of wisdom, and health biomarkers and this is the foundation of learning about who we are and how to meet our needs as we move through life. When we give space, trust and support for girls to really appreciate the phases of their cycle, and the signs it's giving us, it becomes not only normal, but also a strong anchor in their lives. 

I am seeing the value in real time, as I converse with my 11 year old when she tells me she has been using the heating pad on her growing breast buds when they are sore. And my 14 and 13 year old are dabbling in the life skill of Cycle Tracking. It started as a simple practice that was sustainable, like writing their cycle days on the family calendar, and feeling into their energy levels as they move through the month. Then it evolved into paying attention to their nutritional needs according to their cycle, and being extra supportive and empathetic during those emotionally turbulent times. And it looks different for each daughter. One daughter being perfectly content with tracking their cycle days, and having a general awareness of their cyclical patterns. The other, has taken more of an interest in learning to take her temperature, and track her cervical mucus on a chart. This was also a great strategy to see when her first period was arriving. 

As she practises this skill through these new cycles of hers, she is actually learning a life-long skill of  “fertility awareness”, specifically, the basics of the Sympto-thermal method. This is a method of birth control and body awareness that uses a double check method of two biomarkers, cervical mucus and basal body temperature (resting metabolic morning temperature). 

Although the terms, ‘fertility awareness’ and ‘birth-control’ may seem like they don’t belong in a blog post about my young teens, I believe they do. Reducing Fertility Awareness to just being about birth control and not getting pregnant sends the message to our daughters that our bodies are only about that, and it completely misses the sacredness and steadfastness of the inner map of our cycle and how it is connected to all facets of our lives. 

My focus with exposing my teens to this lifelong skill is body literacy. When we pay attention to our menstrual and reproductive biomarkers (like cervical mucus, and basal body temperature), we are learning about the health of our cycles which in turn, represents our fertility health. Our Fertility Health is about birth control, AND it's also about our hormonal health, our mental health, our physical health, our cervical health, our uterine health, our endocrine health, our ovarian health, our brain health, our bone health, our sexual health, etc…My intention is that teen girls can learn and master this life skill before they ever have to use it for birth control. 

"My intention is that teen girls can learn and master this life skill before they ever have to use it for birth control."

In turn, being in tune with their bodies' rhythms, will empower them to make informed choices when it is time to think about birth control and the many options available to us these days. I made ignorant birth control decisions without knowing anything about it. We can do better. And it's never too early to build this foundation with our daughters. And I also know, learning the skill of cycle tracking may not be for everyone, but it 100% should be an available option and a conversation. 

These crucial skills of Body Literacy, Menstrual Cycle Awareness and Fertility Awareness are a teens right. They are not too young for this. They have the capacity and intelligence to practise this skill. I trust teens to know their bodies, to learn how their cycles work, and how to observe their personal biomarkers so they understand their fertility. But I do think it's so important that they have support inside the home, and outside, from a Certified FAMM Practitioner. 

My 13 year old is practising taking her temperature every morning, marking it on her chart, and she is embodying the normalcy of observing her cycle day in and day out. I feel so comforted knowing that she and my other daughters have this knowledge, instead of the shame and obliviousness that I had. I also feel a deep trust that they will use it AS IT SERVES THEM in every stage of their life. 

I am really excited to be offering a 6 week Teen Red Tent Program (starting May 22nd) for young women ages 14-18 focusing on Body Literacy, Menstrual Cycle Awareness, Fertility Awareness and Cycle tracking skills. It will be (in-person, small group) 6 educational sessions, with me, a Certified FAMM Practitioner and Menstrual Cycle Educator, as well as the option for an additional follow up 1:1 appointment to correct and interpret their cycle charts after a cycle of practising on their own to support integration and accuracy of the skill.  

~ Nikki

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