here's the thing:

Fertility is just one piece of God's design for cycles.

here's the thing:

Fertility is just one piece of God's design for cycles.

We spend a ton of time as a Church talking about fertility and family planning - as we should!

But I think we leave out a large portion of the Body of Christ when we limit our conversations to "just" family planning. 

We spend a ton of time as a Church talking about fertility and family planning. (As we should! It's a core part of our beliefs about God's design for the body.)

But I think we leave out a large portion of the Body of Christ when we limit our conversations to "just" family planning. 

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Girl sitting on floor with skateboardGirl sitting on floor with skateboard with orange background

What about teens?

Our girls need to know about the goodness and dignity of their female bodies, because society isn't telling them. When we hold off on cycle awareness until fertility, we rob our daughters of vital information about their health, thinking painful periods and crippling bleeds are normal (they're not).

What about teens?

Our girls need to know about the goodness and dignity of their female bodies, because society isn't telling them. When we hold off on cycle awareness until fertility, we rob our daughters of vital information about their health, thinking painful periods and crippling bleeds are normal (they're not).

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What about single women?

Unmarried women have cycles, too, and our natural hormone fluctuation affects mood, sleep, energy levels, and health. How much happier and holier could we be in all our relationships - including with ourselves and God - if we knew and embraced how cycles affect our whole selves, regardless of fertility?

What about single women?

Unmarried women have cycles, too, and our natural hormone fluctuation affects mood, sleep, energy levels, and health. How much happier and holier could we be in all our relationships - including with ourselves and God - if we knew and embraced how cycles affect our whole selves, regardless of fertility?

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A nun laughs and pokes her head out from a group of school-aged girlsA nun laughs and pokes her head out from a group of school-aged girls with pink background
A nun laughs and pokes her head out from a group of school-aged girlsA nun laughs and pokes her head out from a group of school-aged girls with pink background

What about women in consecrated life?

Yep, nuns have cycles, too. Imagine how much more energetically these incredible women could serve the Church if they were armed with information on maximizing the natural rises and falls in cyclical community life.

What about those in consecrated life?

Yep, nuns have cycles, too. Imagine how much more energetically these incredible women could serve the Church if they were armed with information on maximizing the natural rises and falls in cyclical community life.

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What about women in challenging situations?

When we stop at fertility, we leave out so many women who still have cycles: those experiencing infertility, facing a health crisis or the death of a spouse, or approaching perimenopause - all of whom deserve the same information about their bodies and cycles that cycle awareness provides.

What about women in challenging situations?

When we stop at fertility, we leave out so many women who still have cycles: those experiencing infertility, facing a health crisis or the death of a spouse, or approaching perimenopause - all of whom deserve the same information about their bodies and cycles that cycle awareness provides.

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Two seminarians in white cassocks smile at the camera in sacristyTwo seminarians in white cassocks smile at the camera with blue background

What about men?

Imagine what the Church would be like if we educated our sons on how to respect and help women during their cycles, included men in charting basics so they can make informed decisions TOGETHER as a couple, and even shared NFP with priests so they can better promote it in the Church.

What about men?

Imagine what the Church would be like if we educated our sons on how to respect and help women during their cycles, included men in charting basics so they can make informed decisions TOGETHER as a couple, and even shared NFP with priests so they can better promote it in the Church.

Teens, single women, and yes - even women in religious life! - experience menstrual cycles independent of fertility and family planning. So why isn't the Church talking to all of us about this?

Here's my dream for the Church...


Lifelong education about the goodness of our bodies in God's design that:

  Begins with accurate (age appropriate!) cycle education even before girls get their first period...

  Extends to charting for health...

  Adds in fertility for NFP...

  And continues in the form of robust parish support to meet all the changing needs of couples through their fertile years.

"The Church needs to do more to support NFP."


Trust me, I said that for years, too. As someone who got thrown out of a doctor's office for refusing birth control and then struggled to find an instructor who could teach me NFP, I experienced the gap between Church teaching and practical help firsthand.


But then I took a deep dive into Church teaching and realized the answer to better NFP support has been in place since the very beginning...like literally since Genesis 1.


And what's more? The Church has been saying this all along - we've just stopped talking about it.

So I am.

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The answer is

body literacy

The story of Creation is knit throughout your entire body. What I do here at Pearl & Thistle is teach you how to read God’s design for your body (body literacy) so you can take part in the story He has for you.

It combines Theology of the Body with science to illustrate how our cycles are telling us more than just fertile signs.

Most importantly? Body Literacy is for everyone, not just married couples. Because when we limit the conversation to just fertility awareness, we end up leaving out a large portion of the Body of Christ.

Here's what that looks like at Pearl & Thistle:

HOW IT WORKS

My unique incremental learning system means you learn the piece of menstrual cycle charting you need for your age and stage without needing to learn an entire NFP method from the start.

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STAGE ONE: CYCLE PREP

For the parents thinking, "When should I start talking to my daughter about her period?" Cycle Prep is a first period prep course that will have your daughter approaching menarche with confidence and clarity.

 

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STAGE TWO: CHARTING FOR GIRLS

Of course teens don't need to know how to mark fertile signs - but basic charting information could be the difference between incredible agony from abnormal cycles and having the abundant life God created them for.

Charting for Girls will teach your daughter what's normal, what's not, and even help track energy levels and mood swings associated with the first few years of cycles.

 

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STAGE THREE: CHARTING FOR SINGLE WOMEN

Imagine if you could learn the basics of charting cycles for health without getting bogged down in all the protocols (and cost!) of learning a full NFP method. Enter Charting for Single Women, my DIY resource for Catholic single women.

 

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STAGE FOUR: NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING

Once engaged or married, we add in fertility protocols with a full NFP method. Bonus: It's even easier to learn once you have all the basics of charting down from Stages 1-3.

(And yes, you're still welcome here even if you've never charted before!)

Plus, all Pearl & Thistle NFP clients get three months free access to Read Your Body!

 

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STAGE FIVE: NFP AMBASSADORS

With that lifelong learning under your belt, you're super pumped about NFP and want to tell everyone from your neighbor to the cute couple who sits a few pews away from you...let me teach you how.

 
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and that's not all

I'm kind of obsessed with all things at the intersection of Catholicism + body literacy, so I've also created a bunch of additional resources, like a Catholic sex ed course for teens (that isn't cringe!), trainings for parents and ministry leaders, and even "just press play" ready resources for parishes and schools to make promoting NFP and body literacy easy.

By the way, Pearl & Thistle is for you...


...even if you don't match the "couple walking in a field of sunflowers" advertisement for NFP.

...even if you're a parent who desperately wants to avoid these conversations because you're pretty sure you'll die of embarrassment.

...even if you've felt disqualified from being part of the conversation in the past because of your age or stage in life.

...even if the world has told you that your body is broken, and you've believed it.

This place is for you: to grapple with these things, to have a voice in the conversation, and hopefully come out holier on the other side.

Don't mistake my talk about periods being a call to holiness as sugar-coating the truth, though: they're a literal bloody mess. And many of our experiences have involved a lot of pain, fear, or shame when it comes to this topic.

But in all my work with women and families over the years, I've noticed that there is something in our heart, soul, and mind that wants to be able to claim this bodily function for good. Because God made our bodies and called them good, which includes our cycles.

"Body stuff" isn't easy. But it's holy. Because God made it holy.

"Body stuff" isn't easy. But it's holy. Because God made it holy.

 

Hi, I'm Christina, and I never thought I'd become the Catholic menstrual cycle lady, but here we are.

In my decade+ of being a fertility and cycle educator, I've worked with so many women felt unnoticed by the Church when it comes to NFP.

The conversations tend to center around family planning and chastity, which are two extremely important topics, but don't always match our own experience and needs (or our children's).

My experience? Getting thrown out of a doctor's office for refusing birth control postpartum. Learning so much about my body as an adult that I should have learned about as a kid. Navigating awkward conversations about periods and fertility with my own daughters.

And I wanted to create a space - and resources - for others experiencing these same things.

Everyone says the Church needs to do more to support NFP. So here I am, doing my part. Welcome!

Hi, I'm Christina, and I never thought I'd become the Catholic menstrual cycle lady, but here we are.

In my decade+ of being a fertility and cycle educator, I've worked with so many women felt unnoticed by the Church when it comes to NFP.

The conversations tend to center around family planning and chastity, which are two extremely important topics, but don't always match our own experience and needs (or our children's).

My experience? Getting thrown out of a doctor's office for refusing birth control postpartum. Learning so much about my body as an adult that I should have learned about as a kid. Navigating awkward conversations about periods and fertility with my own daughters.

And I wanted to create a space - and resources - for others experiencing these same things.

Everyone says the Church needs to do more to support NFP. So here I am, doing my part. Welcome!

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okay so...now what?


Want to learn more about body literacy from a Catholic perspective? I can talk about this stuff all day...and do. (Just ask my husband and kids.)

Or get started with a course or resource designed for Catholics just like you.