What is body literacy education?

Body literacy education is knowledge designed to help women understand the inner workings and capabilities of their own bodies. Being body literate means bridging the gap we all sometimes feel between mind and body, and helping understand how our thoughts and emotions are in sync with our physical experiences. While most of us learn the basics about the menstrual cycle from family or school, few young women are guided through puberty with a full understanding of their cycles and symptoms of fertility, and few post-pubescent women expand upon that initial learning as they age. Worse yet, some women may have been given incorrect or outdated information to begin with, leading to a lifetime of unecessary confusion and discomfort. Without that foundational knowledge, we believe it’s difficult, if not impossible, to make fully informed choices about things like birth control or consenting to medical procedures.

What is taught?

Palouse Women’s Wellness offers a body literacy class utilizing The Fifth Vital Sign curriculum, which was developed by Kelsey Knight and Emily Varnam — a registered nurse and a doula — to teach unbiased, body-positive decision-making to women of all ages.

Topics include:

  • hormonal and non-hormonal birth control
  • menstrual cycle awareness and charting
  • menstrual cycle hygiene products
  • breast awareness
  • radical consent
  • how to discuss options with your health care provider

Our general community classes are open to all ages, and we are also available on a limited basis to teach to private groups.


The Fifth Vital Sign body literacy classes are offered as a community service of Palouse Women’s Wellness, at no charge to participants.

Those wishing to pay it forward are welcome to make a donation in any amount to our Care for All fund, which ensures that women and families in our community have access to services and education, regardless of socioeconomic status, while our practitioners also earn a living wage.

How to join us for a body literacy class: 

To sign up for a session of The Fifth Vital Sign, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the form below, indicating whether you’d like to attend an upcoming session or arrange a private class. A facilitator will contact you to ensure your questions are answered.
  2. Be sure to check your email for a welcome information and date/time confirmation near the start of your class.
  3. Join us with an open mind, prepared to learn!