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Lindork’s Lists: Q&A with Chloe Skerlak
Originally published to newsletter subscribers on April 25, 2021
The second person I’m profiling in my new paid newsletter subscriber Q&A series is:
Chloe Skerlak, Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner and Certified Fertility Awareness Educator
Getting to know Chloe Skerlak and her fertility work:
Chloe Skerlak, 33, is an Edmonton-based Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner and Certified Fertility Awareness Educator.
Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioners (HRHP) are professional reproductive health care providers that support a Naturopathic and Functional Medicine approach for managing and enhancing reproductive health through the sharing of education and experience.
For me, someone who has struggled with infertility for seven years, broadening fertility awareness and education about how your body works, and being open to different approaches to treating infertility is not uncommon, in fact it’s increasingly common for those who are dealing with infertility—to seek out a combination of integrated care—pills or treatments from your gynaecologist or fertility clinic in conjunction with acupuncture, massage, mindfulness, stress-relief and more natural approaches, all working together to improve your chances of conception.
I can honestly say I knew nothing about my body or how conception really worked, what my period really was except a few days a month where I bled, prior to trying to conceive, and that lack of womens health education is something I think is quite wrong. Even if you’re not trying to conceive RIGHT NOW, you should be learning about your body and how fertility works.
“I teach women and people with cycles how to practice fertility awareness for a highly effective, hormone-free birth control, for conscious conception, to monitor and become an advocate for their health, and to get to know themselves better! I believe it’s important for women and people with cycles to remember their power, love themselves completely, become advocates for their own health, and live vibrant, healthy, fertile lives.”
– Chloe Skerlak
Chloe caught my attention with her sometimes graphic Instagram posts—showing things like cervixes, mucus, menstrual blood—all of course very natural things that all women have but that we do not typically see or talk openly about. To be honest some of Chloe’s posts had given me pause, because of how jarring and unexpected it was to see female body parts just out in the open like this.
I had nearly unfollowed her account a few times even, to be honest, because it was such a shock for me to see at first—but decided not to because I think she’s bringing attention to really important topics, in really interesting and engaging ways, and I do believe in her belief that we should all know our bodies and therefore ourselves better.
Let’s Dive Into the Q&A with Chloe:
How and why did you get into fertility awareness education?
I had a horrible year on the pill. My hair was falling out, I had really bad acne, and my mood was all over the place. I decided to quit the pill and realized that looking for birth control was really just asking yourself, “How do you like your hormones? In a pill? Patch? IUD? Ring? Shot?”
I wanted a hormone-free birth control and that’s when I discovered the Fertility Awareness Method. Even though I started charting for birth control, I continue for body literacy!
Body literacy is the self-knowledge you gain from a fertility awareness practice.
Since starting to chart my own cycle 10 years ago, I’ve began:
Loving and accepting my whole body
Understanding and appreciating my fertility
Thinking about my health with a holistic perspective
Eating more nutrient dense food
Buying cleaning and body products free of chemicals
Identifying and honouring my boundaries and needs
Communicating better in my relationships
And so much more! Like many others who first learned about fertility awareness, I couldn’t believe I had not been taught this before and decided I wanted to teach it to others!
I enrolled in the Justisse College International, a certified educational institution recognized by the Government of Canada, for the online, 2 year, full-time program. I graduated while living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (teaching and travelling is why I gave myself the pre-pandemic nickname, Cycle Savvy Globetrotter) and it’s been an adventure ever since!
What do you love most about the work that you do?
I love witnessing women and people with cycles come home to themselves and their natural cycles. I love being a part of their journey to fully understanding, accepting, and loving their cycles and body. I love being there for the “Aha” moments when it comes to their health and fertility. I love cheering people on their wellness journeys and holding space for them to do their own work and find their own power. Yeah, that’s a lot of love.
Can you talk about your Period Positivity Workshop and Cervix Portrait Parties? And other things you do that are unique and not as commonly seen?
I offer Period Positivity Workshops for parents and their pre-teens! It’s a fun, educational (and newly online!) body literacy workshop to empower pre-teens with the knowledge they need to have a positive relationship with their periods.
I believe fertility awareness is a life skill that should be practiced well before it has to be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy.
Even before they’re sexually active or thinking about birth control, teens can benefit from charting because it teaches them to know when to expect their period, it helps them develop self-care practices, and it reveals what their variation of a normal cycle is so they can be quicker at spotting when things are not.
The Cervix Portrait Party is a (also newly online!) party for people who want to learn more about their cervix, practice how to do a self-cervical examination, and take their very own beautiful cervix portrait! The cervix is the one of the most powerful parts of a body and yet we know so little about it! It is the portal of life and death, it is a hotel for sperm, it changes position throughout the cycle, and releases the nectar of fertility, cervical mucus. Understanding and interacting with our body, our cervix, changes the way we interact with ourselves and with others including doctors and partners. Say, “Cervical mucus!” 📸 Note from Linda: I didn’t even know you could take a photo of your cervix using a regular phone, lol. I’m nearly 32 years old and I couldn’t tell you what my cervix looks like. But why not?
- You caught my attention because the content you share sometimes is quite graphic, you’re talking about things that I think people don’t normally talk about openly like menstruation, and you’re SHOWING things about fertility that people don’t normal see. Why do you think it’s important to talk and show and be more open about seeing and learning about these topics?
Haha! Yes! My Instagram account is not for the faint-hearted. For example, my menstrual blood face masks. A lot of people ask me why I use menstrual blood as a face mask. Is it good for your skin? Does it help with acne? Can it help with inflammation? And while in theory menstrual blood has many properties that are beneficial to the skin such as anti-inflammatory properties and stem cells, that’s not why I do it.
I put my period blood on my skin and post pictures of it online to show people that menstrual blood is not dirty. I don’t expect everyone to do it but I hope it will inspire people to talk more openly about periods, ask questions about their period health, try out new period positive products, and celebrate menstruation in their own way.
My intention when I share these graphic or shocking posts, is to challenge the way people think and help break taboos about periods, cycles, and fertility.
- What type of reaction or response have you gotten from the content that you share online? Do people like it? Is it shocking? Have you upset people?
When I post stuff like that, I lose a handful of followers but I gain a mountain more. It was actually Tad Hargrave, founder of Marketing for Hippies, who taught me to polarize my audience. I used to play it safe and tippy-toe around controversial topics like periods and the pill and I found I was attracting an audience of “maybes” and other fence-sitters. Now that I show up authentically and passionately online, I repel the “hell nos” and I attract the “hell yes’s”!
- How do you you balance or approach negative opinions about “natural” meaning bad or non-scientific, or what we’re seeing with recent pandemic misinformation being widely shared?
When it comes to anything you see or read online or anywhere, you have to bring a healthy dose of curiosity, do your own research, find your trusted, reputable sources, and honour your own intuition.
- As this was Infertility Awareness Week, what advice would you share with 1) those who are dealing with infertility and 2) those who aren’t, but there may be someone in their life who is.
I want to encourage people who are experiencing infertility to reframe infertility as an invitation to receive a message instead of feeling broken or needing fixing. The message may be emotional, spiritual, or physical. Something may need shifting or changing, adding or removing. Our fertility and menstrual cycle is a reflection of our whole health. It’s our fifth vital sign. It’s not the problem, it’s revealing the problem. However, it’s my humble opinion that before healing can begin, we must honour and accept exactly where we’re at in the moment.
For people who may have someone in their life dealing with infertility, I encourage you to put on your best listening hats. It can be very difficult to understand or relate to what your friend, partner, family member, or colleague is going through so instead of trying to fix or solve anything, be the loving ear and space holder for their experience, whatever that may look like. I hope this is helpful.
- What advice would you give to health practitioners or people who maybe work in fields that might traditionally be considered a bit more serious or stuffy, and how they might break out of that mold a bit and be more playful or have more fun with sharing important information much like what you do?
Find something you like to do and do it lots. Maybe it’s a visual platform like Instagram or an audio one like Clubhouse. Maybe you want to start a podcast or YouTube Channel. No matter what it is, commit to it and be consistent. And most importantly, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously!
Below is an example of the engaging and educational content Chloe shares on her Instagram account:
View this post on Instagram
Wrapping up our Q&A:
What show would you recommend people watch on Netflix (or other streaming services) and why?
Sense8. I’m watching it for the second time because I enjoy it so much. I spend most of the episodes crying like a baby because I’m so touched by their self-acceptance, their relationships, their hardships, and their accomplishments. I love the messages the show sends with the characters and their experience. Messages like this: “We exist because of sex. It’s not something to be afraid of. It’s something to honour. To enjoy.”
Is there a book or podcast you recently read (or doesn’t have to be recent) that you would recommend to others and why?
I recommend the podcast, Fertility Friday, because any possible question you have about fertility awareness is answered in one of the episodes. Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, the host, and all of her guests are such a wealth of knowledge that is well-researched, comprehensive, and empowering.
I’m currently half way through the book, Fix Your Period by Nicole Jardim, and I’m already so excited to recommend it to my clients and anyone else who is interested in menstrual cycle health. This book offers life-changing, step-by-step advice and support for people who want to improve PMS, period pain, heavy periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis, PCOS, or anything that plagues their hormonal and menstrual health. Remember, your cycles are not the problem, they’re revealing the problem.
What is one of your favourite restaurants or stores you’d recommend in Edmonton?
I highly recommend Remedy Cafe. I love their chai and butter chicken wraps (obviously!) but most importantly they’ve been a huge supporter of my vision and work. Before the pandemic prevented us from gathering, Remedy Cafe has been hosting the monthly Fertility Awareness Charting Circle (FACC) since I got involved and started co-facilitating it 5 years ago. (More on FACC below!)
What’s something about Alberta you love or recommend others check out?
Definitely Cotton Tail Corner – Alberta’s first naturist beach right in the river valley! I discovered it when I was travelling through Portugal many years ago. I wanted to hit every nude beach I could find! That’s when I found a website that showed all the nude beaches in the world. I was so pleasantly surprised we have one here in Alberta! Being naked in nature is the best thing ever. And if it’s an experience you’d like to have, too, then spend a gorgeous, sunny afternoon at Cotton Tail Corner. Find directions to get there on their website. Have fun!
Note from Linda: I’ve lived in Alberta for nearly 32 years and had no idea we had a nude beach near Edmonton!
Is there anything else you want to share?
I co-facilitate the Fertility Awareness Charting Circle, a monthly by-donation meeting where new charters, seasoned charters, and anyone regardless of their knowledge level, gender, or sexual preferences can come, hang out, and talk about all things fertility awareness. Since the pandemic, we host online every last Monday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30 pm MDT.
Thank you Chloe for sharing your insights and experience.
You can connect with Chloe Skerlak online at:
Email: [email protected]
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