Last weekend I was at a huge swing-dance-camping-party that I help host every year, and fell into a conversation with a young woman who wants to get pregnant sometime in the next year. She and her partner are starting small, with education and prenatal vitamins and will get more serious about conception in a few months. We had a really sweet conversation about pregnancies and birth. She found out I am a professional sex educator after that conversation, at which point she backed up to fertility and conception. Almost angrily, she told me that she felt gipped out of knowledge about her own body and reproduction. She had gone through sex ed in fifth grade and then in college, but she said she never really learned how her reproductive system works. While she did not directly lay the blame at my feet, she did imply that I was guilty by association with the profession.
By way of response, I talked with her about the limited amount of time that is allotted to sexuality educators. Even in my college class, we were only focused exclusively on female anatomy, including both reproduction and sexual pleasure, for one class period. That’s just not enough time to dive completely into the nuance of the physiology and the cultural assumptions! Not to mention that she has specific and rare physical issues that she was upset had never been addressed.
She grudgingly agreed with me that more time for sexuality educators is the issue that needed to be changed, and that it is a cultural issue, not something that the profession can just snap their fingers and change.
Running across today’s lesson from Game On! recalled that conversation for me. I think playing this game would have given her sufficient knowledge for her to feel comfortable. But even with an in-depth game designed for adult learners, I wonder if it would have been enough? It doesn’t address her specific issue, but it is very comprehensive!
The Board Game
by Martha S. Rosenthal, PhD
By the end of the session, participants will be able to:
- Identify the functions of the parts of the male and female reproductive systems.
- List the steps of spermatogenesis and oogenesis.
- Name the stages of the menstrual cycle.
- Correctly label a diagram of both male and female reproductive anatomy.
Discussing the sexual reproductive system with participants may elicit, at best, giggles, and at worst, embarrassment and shame. Moreover, participants often consider learning reproductive anatomy and physiology to be an onerous chore. Fertilization: The Board Game is a game in which participants answer questions about male and female reproductive anatomy, review the processes of gametogenesis and menstruation, and label the male and female genitalia. By playing this game, information is presented in a humorous and non-threatening way, so participants can enjoy the learning process and improve their understanding of the material. As important concepts are emphasized and repeated, the participants will become more familiar with the information and may feel more positively towards the subject. Comfort and familiarity with the reproductive anatomy and physiology can help players with their sexual health.
The instructions for making this game are relatively extensive; it’s not one to make for one-time use. However, if you find yourself with groups of adults (including college students) and talk about fertilization frequently, it’s well worth your time! From hormones to anatomical structures to the fertility cycle, it’s got you covered. I don’t have a college class I’m working with currently, and I still kinda want to make this game so I can play it with my midwife friends!