Many women today are not comfortable with their own bodies, and have a particularly uneasy relationship with their own fertility. Fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) of natural family planning, however, empower women to make peace with their bodies by working cooperatively and respectfully with their natural patterns of fertility and infertility.
Most FABM users find out about their own fertility patterns during their twenties or thirties, often as they seek solutions for some type of reproductive problem like infertility or miscarriage. In an ideal world, though, that education and appreciation for the intricacy and beauty of the woman’s body should start much earlier, before young girls and teens have internalized the message that their fertility holds them back and must be suppressed. Enter The Guiding Star Cycle Show.
The Guiding Star Cycle Show is a one-day program for girls ages 9-13 offered currently by Guiding Star Project affiliates in Texas and Iowa. The Guiding Star Project is a network of wholistic women’s health care centers that offer services in the areas of pregnancy and childbirth, family life, natural fertility and family planning, and breastfeeding and postpartum health. According to the group’s website, “Our centers and affiliates serve women with a whole-life approach that honors their bodies and minds. We believe you’re not a number or a problem to be solved. You’re a natural wonder. And you deserve healthcare that cares about you.”
Several years back, Kari Beadner, director of Guiding Star Orange City in Orange City, Iowa, learned about an event called The Cycle Show that taught young girls in Germany about their menstrual cycles in an age-appropriate, biologically accurate, and body-affirming way. The Cycle Show is just one program offered by My Fertility Matters (MFM), a “pioneering fertility awareness programme to accompany girls, boys and their parents through puberty” founded by German Dr. Elisabeth Raith-Paula.
According to their website, The Cycle Show serves as “a desirable addition to the standard sex education given in schools; its aim is to equip young girls with the knowledge of what is going on inside their bodies in relation to puberty. This knowledge then supports and prepares them in a positive way for the wonderful changes they will experience within their bodies over the coming years.” MFM offers a companion program, Agents on a Mission, for young boys. Thanks to Beadner’s partnership with My Fertility Matters, the Guiding Star Project is now the only certified provider of The Cycle Show in the United States.
The program format has two parts, with a parent seminar taught the night before so that parents learn the same terminology and content that their daughters will receive. In the first section for girls, participants learn the “‘equation of life’ (sperm + egg = new life)”, and are introduced to FSH, LH, estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that make conception possible. In the second part, girls participate in interactive exercises to learn how these hormones work on an ongoing basis inside their bodies.
Young girls see how unique and one-in-a-million their bodies are, coming from the result of one sperm out of 300 million from their father connecting with one egg out of 400,000 from their mother. This knowledge and education help them to be proud of how their bodies were designed, based on the understanding that “I only protect what I value and respect.”
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