Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Sheila Walker

Reader 2

Judith LeMaster

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© 2014 Lauren Risberg

Abstract

Negative cultural attitudes towards the menstrual cycle have psychological consequences for women. The menstrual cycle in our society is devalued in public discourse and public regard, in which it is viewed as an uncontrollable, painful, and mysterious curse upon womankind. Internalization of these messages may negatively impact women’s self-esteem because of menstruation’s quintessential association with womanhood. Women’s lack of accurate, practical knowledge about the menstrual cycle may be a large contributor to these negative attitudes. The purpose of this proposed research is to investigate whether performing fertility awareness, a daily practice of observing fertility signs to determine the phases in a woman’s menstrual cycle, can increase self-esteem in college-aged women. The study measures perceived control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem in women before and after learning and practicing fertility awareness, as well as comparing those scores to a control group. It is proposed that practicing fertility awareness increases women’s self-esteem and self-efficacy by providing them with perceived control over their reproductive health. Implications for educational imperatives and future research are discussed.

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