What We Need to Teach Young Women About Their Bodies

Ruth Miller, a retired sexual health educator and children's author, shares her experience working at a sexual health clinic in a Huffington Post blog. While interesting, her work has been frustrating as well. She says, "At the clinic I rarely met women, young or old, who understand their fertility and what happens during the menstrual cycle." They know all about bleeding monthly, but they are aware of what happens in between cycles. No one has told them.

Miller raises the question, "Why have we kept this information from young women?" She believes that educators and counsellors don't know how to tell the story of fertility. "When educators and counsellors don't have the full story, we are afraid to share the information we have lest it be misinterpreted," says Miller. When educators don't know how to explain it, they simply don't say anything. 

For example, most young girls don't know what cervical mucus is, what it is for, and why it changes over the month. Health educators and counselors don’t talk about it and books for girls don’t tell the story well either. According to Miller, when she was looking for books about puberty and menstruation, most of the books had, “inaccurate information about cervical mucus, where it comes from, (the cervix) and what it is for (fertility).”

In Miller’s blog, she tells the story of a young woman who came to the clinic upset, angry and confused about a discharge she didn’t like. The young woman had been to two other clinics and they told her nothing was wrong with her. But they didn’t tell her why. No one explained to her that the discharge is her natural cervical mucus that comes every month before ovulation. After Miller explained the cervical mucus to her, the young woman left the clinic relieved and a lot wiser. 

By not telling girls what happens during their bodies during menstruation and the role mucus plays, we are not telling them the truth. We are not empowering them with information about their bodies and they continue to feel more confused about their own bodies. Miller says, “Let's tell the story early so the girls won't worry about what's in their underpants, and let's tell it often so young women are empowered by this knowledge. Then they will know that there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, everything is right!”