Fertility Awareness Club on Campus
Lust I Boring Podcast
College Fertility Awareness Clubs!? What’s going on?
As you’re probably aware on college campuses, there’s all kinds of clubs. There are pro-life clubs. There are botany clubs, engineering clubs, there’s probably cornhole clubs. But what about fertility awareness clubs for women when marriage is still five or 10 years away? What’s the point? Why is this going on? And why is this taking off on college campuses? We’re going to dive into that subject today. Before we do, we do want to remind you that if you’re interested in coming to World Youth Day with Chris Stefanik, and myself to go see Pope Francis, and million of our closest friends in Spain and Portugal, this summer, Registration closes on April 1 for that. So if you just go to chastity.com/pilgrimage, you can still sign up, bring your family, bring your youth group we’d love to have you with us. And then also we’re out what halfway through Lent. And so if it’s not going as you had expected or hoped, as a guy, exodus has come out with an awesome program called lint for men.com. It’s a a 40 day journey through the Gospel of Mark. If you just go to lint for men.com/jason, you can still sign up for this thing. Get the most out of lint before it’s wrapped up. So dive into today’s topic. First. We’ve got two guests on the show today. One is Jackie Aguilar. She’s the director of education for natural womanhood. She’s a Creighton, fertility care practitioner, and a certified sympto-thermo method instructor with a couple a couple of weeks. She and her husband live in Texas with their five kiddos. And then also Aaron Dewey is a senior biomedical science major at Texas A&M University. Gig’em! She’s a cycle mindfulness club leader on campus and after graduating, she plans to pursue a PA school and become a certified and Napro technology which we’ll learn more about today. So Erin, and Jackie, thanks for coming on. Lust is boring today.
Now a lot of people hear about like natural family planning. Okay, well, that’s something for right before we get married, you got to learn it. I mean, it’s engaged in counter weekend, they’re going to promote natural family planning for the first time to these couples, they’re getting married in three months, take a crash course in NFP or you’re married. This is for you. A lot of times when people hear the idea of fertility awareness and NFP being promoted before marriage, people don’t get it. And so why do you guys think otherwise, when it comes to the importance of learning this stuff sooner?
Sure. Well, when I was working with the marriage prep here in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, these brides, these engaged couples, these women would come to me after the presentation and say, Well, I’ve already been on the pill for, you know, 510 years, I didn’t know all these things about my health, I didn’t know that there are alternative authentic solutions that could have helped me with the symptoms I was suffering with in high school. And so we kind of realized, Whoa, these women need this information a lot sooner than in marriage prep for health reasons and for empowerment and knowledge of their bodies.
Now, Aaron, what’s been your experience?
Yeah, I think I want to kind of refer to something that was said, on natural womanhood podcast on one of their episodes on fertility awareness, methods for the single woman. And they said something to the effect of you don’t need to have a ring on your finger to start paying attention to your health, to start paying attention to your fertility. And that has really stuck with me, I think. So I gave a talk at St. Mary’s, the Catholic center near Texas A&M University a few months ago, and when I gave this talk, women came up to me afterwards. And they’re like, Well, you know, I don’t even track my period or like, what’s, what’s estrogen? What’s progesterone, like? What’s ovulation? Just all of these things that are so fundamental to who we are as women and things that affect us on a daily basis. And there was just a lack of knowledge, a lack of awareness, and a lot of these women were Catholic. And I even got the question of like, Well, isn’t that just like NFP? Like, isn’t that isn’t that just for marriage? Like, can I just wait to learn this? And I was like, the sooner you learn it, the better. And you know why? Because you deserve it. And your fertility, it’s a gift. And your health deserves to be looked into, because God has made you that way. And if there are things that are wrong, like you deserve to be looked into for that, and seeing for the way you’re hurting, because God wants to restore you there. He wants to heal you there. So why delay a healing process? Why delay a place of freedom, where God wants to inform and inspire our identity, especially as Catholic women, you know, going out into the world from college, where there’s so many different ideas, there’s so many different people you’re going to encounter. And, you know, it’s so important to be formed during that time and shout out to St. Mary’s for being just a wonderful place to form disciples for the world.
And for the church, and I really believe that for women that includes fertility awareness, and that includes just understanding the basics of how we were made. So then we can go out and we can love others living into that not suppressing it, not ignoring it, not hating it, because that’s the devil, that’s the devil wanting to just word our fertility for our goodness. So that will be we will be wrapped up in chains. And so I really believe fertility awareness is, is now you know, and you don’t need to wait till you have a ring on your finger to be looked into to be given attention to believe that you’re, you’re worthy of that attention of that healing of just having good health and loving yourself. Yeah, I think the title itself fertility awareness is just spot on. Because I think a lot of couples kind of take their own fertility for granted. No, okay, when the day comes, and I want to have a baby and I’m 29, you know, the fertility is going to be there, I just take it for granted is going to be there. And if I’m, you know, experiencing irregular cycles, or heavy bleeding, or painful cramps, or this or that, well, I went to the doctor, and he just said, Go on the pill. And then and then it went away. And what a lot of these young women I think don’t realize that these doctors aren’t really treating the disease itself that’s underlying the symptoms, they’re actually just treating the symptoms. And they think, okay, the symptoms are gone, the underlying issue is gone. But it isn’t. And so the beauty with natural family planning and just learning fertility awareness methods is, I mean, the students that I meet at the high schools, I mean, I’ve lost count of how many teenage girls come up, and after the assembly, and they’re like, wow, like you were mentioning this about the birth control pill or about implant on and I remember one girl in England, kind of rolling up her sleeves. And she showed me, you know, the implant on implant that had been embedded under her skin to sync these synthetic sex hormones into her body. So she didn’t get pregnant with her boyfriend. And she said, Yeah, you were mentioning those side effects. It’s like, oh, well, do you think this is why all that stuff is happening? Well, I’m having all those things you mentioned, I’m like, Well, it’s pretty likely it’s in the insert packet did that came with the drug and they don’t read that stuff. And even if it’s not for birth control, I mean, so many girls just having any fertility issues, just go to the doctor, and nine out of 10 of them. It’s just lazy gynecology, it’s like up here’s your pill, no charting, you know, no ultrasounds to see if their ovarian cysts going on or this or that. It’s just here’s your pill. Problem solved, you know, come back next month for more pills. So if a girl is charting her fertility, can you help young women listening or even young men? Because I think it’s important for them to learn this stuff as well. How is knowing when I have a period? Or what’s going on then going to change my health? When it comes to my fertility? How does that impact having that understanding? What does that do for me?
I think Erin has a really great personal story, because she’s had some of that experience.
Yeah, well, I think it first started for me. You know, back in high school, I was like, I really have this desire to love women, and to do something with that to inform them of their dignity and worth, because I could just see how, how easily women got discouraged or just like, lost this idea of like, who they were, myself included.
And but I didn’t quite know what that was going to look like. So I got to college, and I was thinking, okay, like, I think I want to go to PA school. And I shadowed this doctor who specializes in Afro technology, which if you don’t know is, is doing that practice of charting, and just the whole root cause health care, holistic women’s health care, where they don’t prescribe birth control, they don’t give you an IUD, that kind of thing. And I shadowed him. And I was like, I just learned so much about my own body and about women. And why didn’t I already know this? And why don’t other women know this, because this is this is good stuff. This is informative, this is helpful, you know, in the couples that were coming in, trying to conceive or things like that, like the husbands would come with, with the women to to the doctor’s appointments, and it was just such a supportive, loving environment. And you could so clearly see the fruits of this knowledge in the lives of couples in the lives of women, this this awareness, this bodily awareness. And so from there, I was like, okay, like, I want to keep learning more, and I want to share this information with all my friends, but you know, really, as many women win as many women as I can, because, like you said, Jason, it’s like, here’s the pill, here’s the pill, here’s the pill. And so I had asked that doctor, you know, like, Where can I find this information online because I tried googling it. And all of that stuff, nothing comes up. And so he gave me some websites, one of which was Natural Woman heads website. And I started reading articles and I was like, Man, this is really good stuff like this is you know, I’m a science person and
gives you the allows you to see your worth in a way that you will then demand that of any man that wants to be in your life. And, and I think that’s huge. Because if we understand who we are, if we understand the way we were made, we understand our identity, then we can then expect others to treat us like that.
That’s a really important point. Because a lot of people make the objection. Well, if you teach young people, you know, fertility awareness methods, and NFP, they’re just going to use it as birth control and take advantage of it. And then they’re going to know, okay, I can sleep with my boyfriend on these days. But I can’t sleep on boyfriend on those days. But the point you’re making of just how when you learn your body, the reverence that you start to discover towards your own sexuality, that that’s really the key to practicing chastity is reverence for your body, in the bodies of others. It’s so different than the message you’re getting from the pharmaceutical companies were those drugs they came out with a while ago to just eliminate women’s periods. And I remember seeing the advertisements for those and they came out like you want to get rid of those pesky periods. Well, here’s the drug for you. And it’s like for most women, the ears are perked up. Yes. Oh, that’s great, but it’s treating your period. Like it’s like some defect, like it’s like, oh, well, your car has an oil leak. And so we need to fix that thing up because there’s something defective and this drug will cure it, instead of understanding okay, what is going on with the monthly cycle? What does that actually mean? And so what you’re doing is you’re doing authentic education and human sexuality that really empowers a woman to be in control of her own fertility instead of allowing the pharmaceutical companies to control that woman’s fertility and so to me that that key there that route like once you have reverence for yourself, you can expect reverence from others. But if you don’t have reverence for your own body, it would almost be exceptional respect anybody else too. And so when someone launches one of these wants to do one of these clubs on this campus, like, what does that actually look like a cycle mindfulness club on campus? You know, what does that look like? How does it work?
Sure. So right now we’re doing recruiting for leaders for the 2324 school year. So we have an application online on our website for cycle mindfulness leaders. And the club is a peer led university program is designed for women to learn the science and truth of their cycles, and fertility. And they do this through this core way of teaching, the science and the medical aspects of our body. But then also, by starting from the very beginning, getting women used to the habit of charting, and teaching them that skill, so that they have that insight into what’s going on inside of their body. And you do this in this supportive context of this small group. So the women sort of bond together and kind of form this safe environment where you can talk about those taboo subjects, you can talk about your negative experiences as a woman, or any other maybe misconceptions that we might have had, or, you know, struggles and suffering that we’ve experienced, and kind of share with each other to realize that, hey, we’re not alone in this. And there is help for this, that there are ways that we can overcome a lot of these issues as women with holistic health care and, and restorative reproductive health care. Now, Jackie, just as a practical point, for people who might be listening to like, Oh, I’d love to start one of these up on my campus. Do they need to have like a science background? Like Aaron? Or can they kind of be like, hey, honestly, I don’t even start my own cycle. But I’d love to get one of these groups going. So I can just have the fellowship to be able to deal with others. Do they need to know all the science behind it? Or do they just need to be willing to learn it to be able to accompany the women on the program? That’s question for you, Jackie. And then I got one for you, Erin, when Jackie. So what we offer through the leadership program is a $500 scholarship for the year, then we’re going to also offer a three day training program. So no, you don’t have to know everything about the science about of the cycle. Just a passion to want to learn more and share this with your peers. It you know, a lot of times women do have some experience like they experienced some health issues in the past, or maybe they’ve tried to start cycle charting their cycle. But during that three-day training, which is all expense paid in Houston, Texas, we’re going to have eight different sessions on the science of fertility awareness, we’re going to have a presentation by a napro trained doctor, we’re going to offer a workshop on on leadership on listening on small group management and leading that small group. We’re going to also talk about spiritual self-care. And then a really cool tour of the T.O.B. Theology the body tour of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, led by Father Thomas lawyer. So anyway, so all of that will equip you to be ready to then go on your campus and and start a club of your own.
Oh, that’s great. Now, Aaron, in terms of what you’re seeing on the college campuses, I mean, your Texas A&M, it’s a big school with a lot to offer in terms of the faith. I mean, we were talking before the show just Ash Wednesday, you said they had 7000 Catholic students showed up for Ash Wednesday mass. But then you’ve got the other side of the thing. I mean, you’ve got you know, the Catholic devout students, I’m sure you’ve got pagan agriculturalists. You know, you’ve got all kinds of stuff going on on campus, the drinking the parties, the sororities, the devotion, the Eucharistic Adoration, you’re kind of seeing it all. On a broader lens. What are you seeing on the college campus in terms of the reality of female students on a college campus when it comes to their fertility, their sexuality in general? So kind of what is the kind of the State of the Union of what you’re seeing? And how this this club can help intervene there? Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Well, when you say that what comes to mind is, I think, a couple of weeks ago, I was in one of my classes, and I had just hanged out with one of my friends who was at the time 18 weeks pregnant, and I was so happy, you know, just so overjoyed to spend time with her. And I went to class, and I was talking to one of my friends in the class, and I was telling her about my friend that’s pregnant. And she looks at me and she says, I’m sorry. I’m bad at being a woman. Can you explain what that means to me? Like, wow. And I was like, Oh, okay. Where do we begin? Yeah, yeah. And, and then at a later point, I was, I was talking about the cycle mindfulness club that I lead. And I was saying how we meet every week, like for the entire school year. And she was like, how do you even have that much to talk about? And? And I was like, what do you mean? Like, there’s so much to learn? But essentially, yeah, it’s just like here, here’s over here. And then here’s over here. And it’s like, how do we how do we bridge this gap? And I think it’s been beautiful to see how the things that we’re doing in the club, the things that we’re learning in the club, because essentially, Natural Womanhood has to provide provides all of the resources for what we’re learning. Like, there’s that curriculum, and then there’s articles that we can read, things like that. So all of the information we’re doing is like, reviewed by scientific doctors and things like that. So all of it is scientifically accurate.
And so we’ll be learning about all these things. And these girls have just really grown in their passion for this and really grown in their desire to be bold, and go out onto campus and share this scientific evidence of how our bodies work, and the truth of what the birth control pill does. So they’re telling guys, they’re telling women. And it’s just like, wow, this is like evangelization, honestly,
Yeah, exactly. And, but actually, one of our club members is in a speech and debate class. And she decided they had to debate something controversial. So she chose birth control. And she decided to talk about all the things that the you know, the bad side effects that they don’t market for the birth control pill, and what it’s actually doing on a scientific level, on a body level to the woman. And so she had to debate that in front of her class, and they weren’t allowed to give her feedback right then and there. But it’s just this is what this club is doing is it’s in like empowering women about their own bodies, about their own fertility. Just having that self-awareness in and of itself is so huge, but then going out, and taking that to the women that they’re encountering on college campuses, you know, at A&M, in their friend groups, in their families, and it’s just brought this whole, it’s bringing it into the light, just where we’re at. And what all we’re not told, because I think a lot of women just don’t even understand the fact that they’re only fertile for like three to six days out of whole cycle. And so but it’s like they’re taking this pill every single day. But it’s like if you knew that you were only fertile for that period of time. Then, like, is it worth it to take that pill that’s giving you all that side effects for that long?
That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, go ahead, Jackie.
Sorry. Yeah. The just another example, at UTSA(University of Texas San Antonio). One of the members told us a story at work on break, the coworker was telling her about her sexual relationship with her boyfriend that she’s living with and all this and at the end of break, she just got in one comment. She says, you know, you can only get pregnant three to six days, a month, right? And she said that the coworker like grabbed her arm was like, I need to see you after work. You need to talk. What are you talking about? But just that one statement intrigued her enough to be like, What is this? What do you know that I don’t know? And there so many girls out there like that, but don’t know. Yeah. What is work that they’re maybe they’re taught a lot about sex, but they’re not taught a lot about their own fertility and their own body. And so, this is a way to fill that gap for them.
Yeah, I mean, I imagine it from a woman’s perspective, if you don’t understand your body and you’re sexually active, it probably creates an internal sense of fear of your own body. Like I don’t know what’s going on. I could get pregnant Tuesday, Thursday, Friday sent like, who knows? It’s like dodging bullets here. Like, eventually, you know, I’m going to get pregnant because I don’t know what’s going on. So you’re kind of living in the dark instead of having a sense of okay, what’s actually going on? I think the beauty with the clubs that you’re doing, I imagine there’s no, you don’t have to be a card carrying Catholic daily communicate to the Newman center to roll into one of these clubs. You just have to, you know, have fertility to be aware of, you know, and that’s the kind of the prerequisite to come to the club. But then there’s this covert evangelization, I think, is what John Paul the second said, that said, the truth that the church first and foremost owes to man is the truth about man. And so, it’s just a form of evangelization teach the truth to people. So what are you seeing in these clubs? What are the light bulb moments of going on? What are the discussions, the realizations, you know, tell us what you’re actually seeing in the clubs? Because I imagine the discussions don’t end when the club meetings are over. I imagine that they’re chatting about it on the way to the cafeteria afterwards. So what’s going on in these club meetings?
Oh, yeah, for sure. Where do I even start? I think one of the big things that has been kind of circulating in our club has been ever since the girls learned that you look most attractive when you’re ovulating. You know when you’re in that fertile window. It’s become like the biggest compliment in the world to say, oh, my gosh, you look beautiful today, or you ovulate. And there has been this whole trend around St. Mary’s women now, because these girls are telling their friends, right? So it’s like, they’ll go up to me like, oh, my gosh, are you ovulating? You are so beautiful. And it’s like, Oh, my God, like it’s hilarious. But it’s like, oh my gosh, like this is authentic. Like women’s community. We’re not sitting here gossiping about the latest news. Yeah, like drama or anything. We’re just like talking about the way we were made. Yeah, talking about our own unique experiences. And I think one of the coolest things that we’ve learned, we did kind of a meeting on cycles thinking. And it was basically just the fact that like, we’re cyclical, right? So we’re not going to show up the same every day. And at every point in our cycle. There are going to be different strengths, right? So you have like the first part, the first part of your phase, which includes your period all the way up to ovulation, which is your follicular phase. And then you have the second part, which is your luteal phase, where it’s after ovulation till like right before your next period starts. And so the girls also started using this vocabulary of like, Oh, I’m feeling follicular today. Like I’m feeling luteal today to describe how they’re feeling. And essentially, I really believe that the awareness that charting has brought these women like knowing exactly where you’re at in your cycle and not waiting for your period to know like, okay, yeah, that’s why I felt crazy, like, okay, we’re cool. But to everyday be like, Okay, here’s where I’m at my cycle, here’s what I know, is, is maybe typical to be feeling during this part of my cycle. And here’s how I can have grace with myself. And here’s how I cannot. And here’s how I can form realistic expectations for myself today, you know, and to do that every single day. And it just cultivates this level of like, emotional maturity, spiritual maturity, and just awareness of like, how I’m showing up every day, how I’m living. And, you know, really just rooted in reality, I think charting is a very practical way to stay rooted in reality, for instance, there. during your period, it’s known that you have your best like intuitive reasoning, then it’s known that are probably the most naturally inclined to be reflective. And so if you think about it, like, if every month, every time we had our period we had, we sat down and we just, you know, you’re already not feeling super social, you’re not wanting to like hang out a bunch, you kind of just want to like be alone rest. You’re starting to reflect about, okay, what was this last month? Like? Is there anything I need to change to take care of myself better? Or is, you know, maybe, did I not ovulate last month? Okay, if I didn’t ovulate, which is known to be a sign of, of health known to be the fifth vital sign for women. Then why was an eye ovulating? Like was Was I not sleeping enough? Was I not eating enough? You know, and it just it’s like this, this introspective. Okay, how can I, you know, if I have reverence for my body, then how can I continually love my body? How can I continually reflect on how to love my body better?
Yeah, that’s neat stuff. Because I mean, when a woman is has her chart, she’s holding, not only her reproductive health chart in her hands, but she’s holding her biological health in her hands in the sense that okay, like you said, like, Okay, if my cycle is not regular, I missed ovulation. Why? And it could be well, let’s see what’s going on? Where are the hormones stored in the body? They’re stored in the fat, you know, am I struggling with an eating disorder that’s causing me to not have enough fat to be able to regulate my hormones? Maybe there’s a deeper issue there that needs to get looked at. And so it’s beautiful from a health perspective there. I can also see it translating into a spiritual health perspective. Kelsey scope wrote a book for us called uncompromising purity. It’s not just a guy problem and she talks about battling temptations from a woman’s perspective, because of a lot of the resources that are out there for guys on chastity and battling pornography and masturbation, all the stuff, it’s ultimately kind of a male perspective. And so she writes from a kind of a female perspective of, okay, we need to become aware of different things as women, when it comes to our spiritual struggles that maybe there are certain times in the month where you get triggered a heck of a lot more easily. Maybe if you know that coming into this window of your cycle, that you can be a little bit more not only vigilant, but compassionate on yourself, okay, there’s nothing wrong with me that I kind of have a heightened sensitivity, you know, in my body, you know, this next week or so, because this is what’s going on. And so spiritual health, biological health, like you said, emotional health, okay, why am I at an edge up on this phase? And so it translates to so much more and then just the ovulation stuff you’re talking about? I people want to research that stuff. I mean, it’s fascinating. I mean, ovulation is the reason women wear lipstick, because it mimics the fact that women’s lips are more plump and red during ovulation. And so having the darker lips is like, Hey, I’m ovulating all month long. And we don’t even realize why we’re mimicking ovulation in the blush that’s being worn, you know. And so even the content of sugar in a woman’s saliva peaks during ovulation. And you know, this is just like the face. And then you start to study natural family planning, and how the cervical mucus changes throughout the month that during infertile times, on a microscopic level, it looks more like a mesh. And it you know, it doesn’t facilitate the transport of service sperm, but then, you know, when she’s ovulating, it’s these microscopic channels that facilitate the transport of sperm, you know, and the chemical composition of the mucus itself allows the sperm to survive longer, it actually nourishes the sperms, they can stay alive in the woman’s body for up to a week leading up to ovulation maximizing fertility, and like when you start to understand this stuff you grow in, if there’s one word, it’s just wonder, it’s just all you know, all of the woman’s body. And then when the man is learning with her, it’s like, wow, you grow in that reverence. And so in terms of the physiological, emotional, spiritual, personal relational benefits behind this thing, it to me, it’s a no brainer. And so if girls are listening to this, or women are just like, are guys listening? Hey, my girlfriend, you know, she start one of these clubs. She’s all into this stuff. How does someone go about learning more starting the club plugging into the more that you guys are doing?
Start a Mindfulness Cycle Club at: https://naturalwomanhood.org/cycle-mindfulness-club-leadership-team/