Menstrual Cycle - Fertility
The menstrual cycle is a wonderful mystery! A mystery in the sense of something 'sacred', not in the sense of something incomprehensible.
From the onset of menarche to menopause, each and every woman can learn to watch and understand her sycle (fertility awareness) and use this knowledge for her general health (by recognising and preventing health conditions) and her choices towards her fertility (conception-contraception).
In Greece Fertility Aweareness is not commonly practiced. But it fits perfectly with a more active and responsible approach to our health in general. We can all learn the basics principles about the menstrual cycle through workshop and materials for women, couples and adolescents.
Workshops and Presentations
[Index of past workshops]
"RECOGNISING OUR FERTILITY SIGNALS"
The first menstruation of a young woman can be seen as a ’gift’:
the beginning of the menstrual cycle – a possibility for the creation of life.
During our cycle there are fertility signals, which usually go unnoticed. By recognising them, we gain invaluable information,and set off on a journey of making responsible choices,reclaiming the power of our bodies and our fertility,and taking on a more active role on our overall health.
Two introductory Fertility Awareness workshops. Fertility Awareness is a natural method of understanding and charting the menstrual cycle, and is addressed to all women and couples in the reproductive years; it can be used safely and effectively for conception as well as for contraception.
For the first time in Greece, we had the honour of inviting Jane Knight, from Fertility UK, Fertility Nurse Specialist, Trainer and Midwife, for two introductory courses.
Course for adults
Fertility awareness at all life stages
Topics areas included:
- Understanding the menstrual cycle. Identifying the fertile time
- Changes in cycle length
- The signs (indicators) of fertility
◦ Temperature changes
◦ Changes in cervical secretions
◦ Changes in the cervix (optional sign)
◦ Using calculations based on cycle length
- Charting the signs
- Personalising information
- Factors which disturb the menstrual cycle
- Using the information to avoid pregnancy - normal fertility
Course for adolescents (10-18 years)
Understanding fertility, contraception and sexual health
In this workshop adolescents had the opportunity to explore how an understanding of your own body helps you to make responsible choices about sexual activity, contraception, sexual and reproductive health.
Topic areas included:
- The menstrual cycle and the fertile time. How menstrual cycles vary in length
- What is a normal vaginal secretion? How to identify problems
- What about the boys? Men's bodies
- Normal sexual function and sexual pleasure. What is healthy sex?
- Are you really ready to have sex?
- Protecting yourself from infection and pregnancy
- Methods of contraception – pills, condoms, emergency pills, fertility awareness
- Cervical smears and sexual health checks
- Common vaginal infections / thrush and cystitis. Sexually transmitted infections
- Coping with peer pressure
- Talking to a parent or trusted adult. Where to get help
- Recording changes in your menstrual cycles – self-awareness
- Quiz. Questions and Answers
The need for a natural fertility awareness method, amongst so many other methods around, has come up from many women’s and couples’ concerns in regards with:
- health –as a natural method it is absolutely safe and presents no special caution or side effects in its use. In addition, as long as the menstrual cycle is charted regularly, it can be a priceless resource for preventing or dealing in a timely fashion with health conditions in a woman’s general health, like urine infections, vaginal infections, fibroids, PMS and other menstrual cycle-related conditions.
- ecology –for the above mentioned reasons, it does not pose any extra burden on the environment.
- spiritual-moral-religious beliefs –FA does not mechanically stop conception, it only offers a possibility for understanding the cycle. It is up to the couple how they will use the fertility signals.
- economy –it does not call for any financial investment and is always readily available.
Effectiveness: It is important to note that FA, when used correctly, is 98% effective –with the extra benefit of no side effects.
The workshop was addressed to:
- women and couples in the reproductive years, or all those who are interested in understanding the nature of the menstrual cycle
- health professionals
- anyone who comes in contact with women and couples in the reproductive years
- more ‘special groups’ of women or couples, when fertility is not stable, such as during menarche (see special workshop for adolescents), lactation, menopause, irregular cycles, etc.
"THE CYCLE OF LIFE~ REDISCOVERING OUR NATURE"
A journey of meeting and understanding fertility
(a series of regular talks-discussions from 2011 until today)
a presentation-discussion exploring the 'mysteries' of fertility
Where: Κέντρο Ρεφλεξολογίας & Έρευνας (ΚΕΡΕ) (Centre of Reflexology and Research)
For more information: 210 98 41 030
Speaker: Maria Andreoulaki, Reflexologist and Doula
This series of talks are addressed to Reflexology students, Reflexologists and other complementary therapists, and aims to give an all-round view to choices in perinatal care, so that the practitioners can best support their clients on a personal and professional level.
Subjects to be discussed:
- Understanding of combined fertility: fertility as something taht concerns the couple sharing an intimate relationship
- Short review of common contraception methods and their effects on woman's health
- Choosing narutal methods - a life choice: Reflexology by itself can inspire (through the art of the Refelxologists and also through personal modeling) natural life and healing choices
- Political-economical side of perinatal care - moving from a 'health system' to a 'health industry'
- Taking back the power: understanding our own bodies in its natural functions is and can be something that we each own, regardless of gender, social place, education, and does not 'belong' exclusively to the medical profession. Physiology of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding: realistic options of perinatal care in Greece
[...] I was born during a ful moon in a springtime remembered for a plentitude of lambs. Zilpah stood on my mother's left side, while Bilhah supported her on the rught. Inna was there, to be on hand for the celebration and to catch the afterbirth in her ancient bucket. But Leah had asked Rachel to be midwife and catch me.
It was an easy birth. After all the boys before me, I came quickly and as painlessly as birth can be. I was big - as big as Juhad, who had been the biggest. Inna pronnounced me "Leah's daughter", in a voice full of satisfaction. As with all of her babies, my mother looked into my eyes first and smiled to see that they were both brown, like Jacob's and those of all her sone.
After Rachel wiped me clean, she naded me to Zilpah, who embraced me, and then to Bilhah, who kissed me as well. I took my mother's breast with an eager mouth, and all the women of the camp clapped their hands for my mother and for me. Bilhah fed my mother honeeyed milk and cake. She washed Leah's hair with perfumed water, and she massaged her feet.
While Leah slept, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah took me out into the moonlight and put henna on my feet and hands, as though I were a bride. They spoke a hundred blessings around me, north, south, east, and west, to protect me against Lamashu and the other baby-stealing demons. They gave me a thousand kisses.
In the morning, my mother began to count out two moon cycles in the red tent. After the birth of a boy, mothers rested from one moon to the next, but the birth a of birth-giver required a longer period of separation from the world of men. "The second month was such a delight," my mother told me. "My sisters treated us both like queens. You were never left lying upon a blanket for a moment. There were always arms to hold you, cuddle you, embrace you. We oiled your skin morning and night. We sang songs into your ears, but we did not coo or babble. we spoke to you with all our words, as though you were a grown sister and not a baby girl. And before you were a year old, you answered us without a trace of a baby's lisp." [from "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant].
The description of a feast,
the birth of a girl,
How many of us can describe their birth
in such a beautiful-to-remember way?
Michel Odent, inspired scientists, ob-gyn and author, has come to believe that our basic ability to love (or the lack of it) is based on the way we were welcomed into life.
Resources - websites, books, audio/visual material
Books on fertility awareness methods
Fertility, Dr Elizabeth Clubb & Jane Knight, David & Charles 3rd edition 1996 – out of print. Try Amazon second hand books
Taking Charge of your fertility, Toni Weschler, Vermillion, 2003
Zita West's guide to getting pregnant, Zita West, Harper Thorsons, 2005. Contains information and support for couples planning pregnancy, including sections by Jane Knight on fertility awareness.
General women's health books
– including short piece on fertility awareness
Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, C. Northrup, MD, Random House, 2010 - also available in Greek:
Η σοφία του γυναικείου σώματος, Christiane Northrup, MD, εκδόσεις Φυτράκη, 2005.
Useful web sites
www.fertilityuk.org - On-line version of 'Fertility' Clubb & Knight
Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University
Comprehensive article on fertility awareness methods by Dr Cecilia Pyper and Jane Knight - for health professionals
Family Planning Association for the UK – with leaflets to download on many topics
Zita West Clinic - A preconception and fertility site based in London - A midwife-led clinic integrating complementary therapies into mainstream fertility practice. Jane Knight is a Specialist Fertility Nurse Counsellor working at the Zita West Clinic.
Charting the Menstrual Cycle
You can download samples of fertility charts in the following links. For similar samples in Greek, please contact us.