What are the many ways that your body communicates fertility? What do your cervix and breasts want you to know? How is your menstrual cycle affected by sleep or nutrition? What’s YOUR normal? Emily Varnam and Kelsey Knight tell us more about this 5th vital sign of health.
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What we talked about:
- Your menstrual cycle as a sign of health
- How does your body communicate fertility?
- Getting to know your cervix
- Checking your cervical fluid
- Ph and good bacteria
- You’re so nurturing, you even make snacks for visiting sperm!
- Your breasts also communicate
- Keeping track of it all
- How does sleep and nutrition affect your cycle?
- Fats as protective resources
- Lessening your stress responses
- Are you over stimulating your adrenal glands?
- Breastfeeding as birth control? Yes and no.
- How your body communicates fertility after pregnancy
- Getting back to your monthly rhythm
- Bonus: What about perimenopause and menopause?
- The 5th Vital Sign website (take a look at Emily and Kelsey’s amazing journey!)
- Details on how your primary fertility signs change, and chart for download
- Charting Your Menstrual Cycle, from our bodies our selves
- Visualizing Changes in Your Cervical Fluid (Cervical Mucus), contains pictures; may be NSFW
- The Beautiful Cervix Project – has day-to-day photographs of cervical change (aka cervical selfies). Probably NSFW; tons of info to get to know your cervix.
- Tips to doing a self-exam, from the Feminist Women’s Health Center (FWHC)
- Menstruation Matters: May 28th was “Menstrual Hygiene Day” (more from The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research)
- Seeing Red: The Rise of Mensesplaining, article from The Atlantic on menstruation as a societal issue
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, by Toni Weschler
- Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body, by Toni Weschler
- Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods, by Lara Briden, ND (check out her blog at larabriden.com)
- The Daysy fertility monitor device and app, mentioned by Kelsey and Emily
- Menstruation in Girls and Adolescents: Using the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Sign, ACOG Committee Opinion
- Micro Essential Lab 3110M18EA 325 Hydrion Short Range pH Test Paper Dispenser, 3.0 – 5.5 pH, for testing your pH
- Note: this should not replace medical advice. Use it as a reference to get to know your body.
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About Kelsey Knight and Emily Varnam
Kelsey Knight is a labor and delivery registered nurse in NYC. She trained and volunteered as an intrapartum doula, opening her eyes to the imperatives of informed consent and health as a human right, and subsequently pursued a nursing career in in-patient obstetrics. She is a certified lactation counselor, childbirth educator, and member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). She’s also interested in documenting women’s stories. Most recently, she co-initiated a project, called The Fifth Vital Sign, with her best friend, Emily. For the past 11 weeks, they’ve roadtripped across the United States, teaching free reproductive health classes in over 63 locations along the way, spreading information about body literacy and informed choice.
Emily Varnam is a birth and postpartum doula, midwive’s assistant, birth control doula, placenta encapsulation specialist, and holds a degree in counseling and mentoring. She has been working with newborns and families since age seven and her goal is to be able to take people’s hands during puberty and walk with them through every stage of reproductive health. Her practice as a birth control doula has taken her to classes, talks and ob/gyn visits with clients. In 2014 Emily developed and began offering a class called ‘My Vagina, My Business’ it was this class and her desire to connect with communities across America that inspired The Fifth Vital Sign. She was recently accepted into the Justisse Training Program and never wants to stop learning about reproductive health. Emily plans to continue to grow and develop The Fifth Vital Sign with further curricula and trainings as the response has been so overwhelming.
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