Teaching Fertility in High Schools

Fertility information is an important aspect of sexuality education according to Robyn from Nest Consulting.

Robyn created the programme ‘Positive Puberty Plus’, designed for Yr 5/6 with a follow on programme aimed at Yr 7/8 about 7 years ago. It is a holistic programme covering physiological, psychological, science and sociological age appropriate learning. It is a programme to ensure every child feels comfortable about their body and their place in the world, knowing the ‘normal’ ranges whilst not comparing themselves to others, understanding body functions and developing critical thinking skills and great communication. It is a programme meant to empower these students. Fertility is covered simplistically within this programme in a way they can understand and make sense of. With one school running the programme at the end of 2009 there are now 102 programmes running throughout Auckland and Northland, soon to expand to Waikato and Tauranga. Every single school who’s run the programme has rebooked!

The next step was to create a programme aimed at high school level students. ‘Teen Talks: Fertility Awareness and Responsibility’ for Yr 10 was launched, along with a shorter class, ‘Sensitive Subjects’ which allows schools to pick and choice a specific topic for facilitated discussion, designed for older students (Yr 12/13). Again these programmes are holistic in nature and delivered at an age appropriate level.

The timeless topics of avoiding pregnancy and infections are vey much included (with a focus on avoiding but also on what to do if it happens without shame or blame) whilst also acknowledging the importance of everything from: really understanding ‘consent’, the risks of pornography, social media, what a healthy relationship is, body image and fertility wonder. Fertility wonder talks of a finite number of ova (eggs) in a women, sperm issues, how to influence quality of fertility, assisted reproductive technologies available and age versus fertility. It in no way encourages teen pregnancies. Research repeatedly suggests giving teens information is reflected in positive outcomes (less sexual contact, safer sexual contact, less infections, less teen pregnancies).

I firmly believe a form of fertility awareness delivered through school (and University) programmes is an extremely useful tool. Infertility affects men and women, up to one in four of us. Perhaps with a little information, delivered early enough, treatment could be sought sooner reducing these statistics substantially.

In my opinion it is a subject that needs teaching age appropriately and starts with younger children receiving good sexuality education at home and at school so by the time they reach high school they already have a good relationship with their body and their place in the world with solid skills in communication and decision making.