The Fifth Vital Sign, a traveling reproductive healthcare team, will be speaking on the University of Wyoming’s campus Wednesday night.
Emily Varnam, a birth and postpartum doula, and Kelsey Knight, a labor and delivery registered nurse, created the Fifth Vital Sign after their experiences in the maternity care system in New York left them to believe that people were being asked to make decisions about pregnancy and their bodies without a great deal of knowledge. The two of them say that education can be used as preventative care, so they have been traveling around the country to provide free reproductive health classes. Knight says they are willing to teach their classes just about anywhere.
“We’ve been to colleges, we go to yoga studios, we’ve even given a class in a car dealership.”
Laramie will be one of 63 stops.
As it stands, Wyoming does not require its K-12 curriculum to include sex education. Varnam says a lack in education is a problem.
“The outcomes could be greatly improved and options could be greatly improved if we went back and started to offer this education, which is actually not about pregnancy and birth, it’s really just about reproductive health, and seeing the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. We felt like it would be really important to do that, and give people a chance to learn a language that would help them advocate for themselves and help them to get their options."
Varnam also says a lack of early education leads to another problem—what she calls an assumed level of knowledge.
“It kind of feels like when you meet somebody and you don’t get their name and at a certain point you can’t ask their name anymore. And we really want to be like no but this is reproductive health so we can’t have that same situation and we have to make a place to ask questions.”
The Fifth Vital Sign will offer a class in Laramie from 4-6 p.m. at the Cooper House on the University of Wyoming’s campus on Wednesday night. All are welcome. For more information, visit 5thvitalsign.com or follow them on Instagram @thefifthvitalsign.