In the menstrual advocacy world, the provocative term, “body literacy,” often gets expressed in relation to the Fertility Awareness Method. If I could explain it to anyone hearing it for the first time, I would tell them that “body literacy” is simply learning to read and understand the language of the body.
I love how Geraldine Matus (founder of the fertility awareness-based method, Justisse Method) frames it: “Body literacy is a deeply intimate and holistic relationship with our bodies and the selves we are that dwell in our flesh.”
I find it beautiful that our bodies have their own unique “language” in which we can develop literacy in. FAM provides a way to decode that language and help us communicate with our bodies by tending to and being stewards of our menstrual health.
Those of us who grew up in the conventional educational system get so little information about how our menstrual bodies work. Sex education gives us only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to menstrual cycle education. We are not taught to “read” our living, breathing unique bodies but instead are taught to compare our bodies to a normal standard of health laid out in a textbook. In this way, we grow up to develop “illiteracy” about our bodies and a distrust in them. We learn to “manage” our bodies through artificial means, and we hand our decision-making power about our sexual and reproductive health to medical providers who also have a textbook understanding of menstrual health.
FAM, on the other hand, invites us to learn the intricacy and nuances of our own bodies through its participatory nature. By engaging in the practices of FAM, we learn to observe, chart, and interpret our unique biomarkers — our body’s language — on a daily basis. Overtime, we can discern the patterns and nuances of our unique hormonal rhythms, how and why our periods manifest in the way they do, and understand the cyclic nature of our emotional bodies. We may also then take the objective data on our charts and use that to help us make an informed and empowered decision about our reproductive and sexual health. This is how FAM cultivates body literacy and more embodied and nourished menstrual cycles.
I absolutely love and resonate deeply with this aspect of FAM. I hope it does for you, too.