"Body literacy" really is an apt term for the life skill of Fertility Awareness.
When you can read the signs your body is giving you - when you understand what's happening day to day in your cycle - you are far more capable of making informed decisions and better understanding your experiences. It's a kind of fluency in the language of your body, and, potentially, your partner's.
A study published in 2017 reported on the results of a survey of 2,560 participants who all used Natural Family Planning (NFP) for birth control. It showed that the majority of BOTH men and women saw NFP as beneficial to their relationships, their sex lives, their understanding of their own bodies, and their ability to explain sexuality to their children.
Participants in this study lived in the U.S., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Italy. They were all involved in heterosexual partnerships, and 89% of them were married. This is unsurprising since the Fertility Awareness Method known as "Natural Family Planning (NFP)" is generally taught in the Catholic community. NFP is a "symptothermal method," meaning that women check cervical mucus AND basal body temperature to identify fertile and infertile days. The science of NFP is the same science we rely on for The Justisse Method.
Here are some standout stats from the study. (You can also read it for yourself here.)
- 95% of women and 55% of men said that NFP has helped them know their body better
- (isn't that awesome that the men also felt better informed about their own bodies?!)
- 64% of women and 74% of men said NFP has improved their relationship
- (the next largest group said their relationship was unchanged; less than 10% felt that their relationship was not as good as it used to be)
- 53% of women and 63% of men said NFP has improved their sex life - by making it easier to speak with their partner about sexuality; helping sex be more joyful and enjoyable; and improving their knowledge and understanding of sexuality
- (again, the next biggest percentile of both men and women said their sex life was unchanged, and only 1% of women and 11% of men said it was worse in some way)
- 85% of women and 82% of men with kids said that understanding NFP helps them explain sexuality to their children
So... if you don't yet have this type of body literacy, those are a few more reasons to learn it!
Many people I've worked with over the years, in fact, have told me that they appreciate Fertility Awareness MORE for the body literacy it gives them, and how it keeps them in touch with their health, than they value it for birth control or getting pregnant. Birth control and getting pregnant aren't always relevant to our lives, after all, but our cycles and our hormonal health are, every day from menarche to menopause.
Image by Isabel García.