Learning to Speak Your Body's Language
I open my eyes, press snooze, open my mouth, and put in my thermometer. I cling to consciousness by my fingernails until I hear the familiar beep, then let the thermometer slip from my lips as I fall back to sleep. When I wake up again ten minutes later, I input my temperature into my phone, and slink into the shower bleary eyed, to wake up with some hot steam and intention setting.
‘I am inspired. I am focused. I allow my sensuality to flow.’
I emerge a new woman, alert and energised, and while I rub luscious scented oil over my body, I repeat a few more affirmations in my head.
‘I help others. I am motivated. I allow my sensuality to flow.’
I wash and dry my hands, and sitting down on the toilet, I slowly insert two fingers into my vagina. Unlike some of my more languid morning wake up rituals involving my vulva, this is not one of self pleasure, though it’s not without its enjoyable moments. I reach as high up as I can, and I notice my cervix is a little higher and softer than it was last night. My cervical fluid is a little more slippery. I rinse my hands, and input those changes into my phone.
You see, instead of taking a sugary little pill at the exact same time every day, I check my basal body temperature. I pay attention to my cervical fluids. I monitor the changes in my cervix. I have learned the language of my reproductive system, and I try very hard to listen, and understand.
When I talk to my clients who are interested in learning their body’s language, the first question they usually ask is, “But where is my cervix?!” followed by, “How will I know if it’s hard or soft, and open or closed?” This type of information is a piece of our sexual education that we usually miss out on. We are loosely told about basic penis-in-vagina interaction, to use condoms, and to take birth control. What is omitted and erased is so much greater than what is taught. We are socially conditioned to refer to our vulva as our vagina, a reference that summarily erases the majority of our pleasure organs from our consciousness and our collective social lexicon.
The majority of advertising of menstrual products is for bleached and chemically treated cottons and plastics, demonstrated with blue dye and a nauseating dichotomy of saccharine girlishness and clinical cleanliness. These are the preselected societal norms, that impressionable teenagers learning about sex education are expected to drink down like Kool-aid as blue as the demonstration dye. When we show these youths only half of the painting of their reproductive cycle, we do them a great disservice for years to follow. We should simply be telling them the truth.
You do not need to erase your pleasure organs when you speak. You do not need to stuff bleach and rayon into your vagina when you bleed. You do not need to swallow pills every day to trick your body into thinking it’s pregnant. You certainly can if you would like to, if that feels empowering to you, and you should have safe access to do so, and all the information you need. However, I believe that the ability to make an informed decision about your body is denied to you when you’re not provided with the entire information and education around it.
There are few other areas in a woman's life where she is so openly lied to, as her reproductive health. During sex education, she is not usually educated about anything to do with pleasure, natural health and wellness, and the pros and cons of different forms of birth control. From the time she begins menstruation she is not usually informed about the uses of menstrual cups, the potential dangers of tampons, let alone that her blood is normal and natural and healthy, and nothing to be afraid of. Rarely is she taught about how to track when to expect her period, the signs of ovulation, and the warning signs of reproductive ill health.
During pregnancy she is told all the things she must and must not do, but it’s rare that she would ever be informed as to why the doctors feel this way, and what her other options might be. During birth almost all her decisions are often taken from her, as well as her basic rights to privacy, respect, and consenting physical touch and examinations. I have watched nurses lie directly to a laboring woman's worried face about what she was injecting into the intravenous drip, and I have seen doctors reach down and touch a pregnant woman's vulva and vagina without so much as a ‘hello, may I?’. When we give our trust to medical professions, it should be respected and valued, and we should be given full disclosure on anything related to our bodies, but too often we are disregarded as not having a valid opinion on the matter of our own body. It is time to start learning about, and listening to our bodies, so we can make educated decisions around them.
So I sit quietly, and I really listen to my clients. I listen to stories of women who have left gynecological offices teary-eyed and confused. Women who have endured nauseating side effects from hormonal medications that were never fully explained to them. Women who are frightened to reach into their vagina and touch their beautiful cervix. Who are daunted by their own anatomy. Who want to learn to prioritize and love their bodies, to speak the language, and respond to the messages. Once you start somewhere simple, like charting your temperatures and cervical observations, you might be amazed to learn how much your body is telling you. Why have your luteal phases been so short lately? Why are you weeks post-partum and still bleeding? What day is your period going to start this month?
Your body is trying to speak to you, whenever you feel ready to listen.
Isabella Frappier is an Australian writer, holistic life coach, tarot reader, birth doula, and apothecarist who is currently based in LA. When she’s not busy championing her sex positive agenda she, oh wait, she’s always busy doing that. You can connect with her at www.isabellafrappier.com