BC and the Single Girl


I was approached with a question by a single girl in my parish with a question about using the pill or other means of BC to regulate hormonal issues. (For those familiar with the Keating “Catholic Quiz” it pertains to question 13 and the use of contraception.)
13. Contraception is:
a. Permissible only to married couples with the permission of their
parish priest and under extenuating circumstances.

b. Never permissible, no matter what the circumstances.
c. Permissible if the husband and wife, after honest prayer, conclude it is right for them and do not use it selfishly.
d. Permissible only if pregnancy would put the wife’s health in
danger or if the couple is unable to support a large family.
e. None of the above.

She answered b but then followed up with this:“but isn’t it permissable when women need it to regulate menstruation?”

My original response was this:
"The answer is that what you are describing is typically a therapy
used by young, single women having difficulties with the hormone surges - such as using depoprovera or a similar product.
The thing is: these young single women should not be engaging in
activities for which contraception is usually used - blocking the
transmission of life. There is not a church position about the use of contraception by single women for the purpose of menstrual cycle control. It is not a pass for other activity though.

But it struck me VERY suddenly (more than a year after the Q&A took place) I was not entirely sure and certainly not qualified to make the assertion - I know that if I go back with an amended answer, she will take it in proper spirit and comply.

This young lady is extremely devout and conscientious and not promiscious in the least (the fact the she came to a male, with a fairly orthodox outlook and this particular question ought to be a pretty indicator of her character), but like many young people is rattled by the hormonal surges caused during her period.

Any thoughts - empirical evidence on church teaching about this will be appreciated. :shrug:


I’m not a medical professional, but there’s a couple of things I can tell you on the cultural level that doctors often want the woman on pill, girls often want a reason to be on the pill. It’s like the pill is pushing itself on people. Also, the pill has a number of disadvantages to its use and nothing it gives comes without a price. Messing around with the biological cycle isn’t as safe as it seems. From what I’ve read, it can not only affect the physique (through metabolism it affects the girl’s health and well, weight and such) but also personality.


Presumably true of any chemical that alters the body’s function - so does that include “Patch.”


Keating is correct, contraception is not allowed in any circumstance. Contraception is purposely suppressing fertility to avoid pregnancy.

Medications with a purpose of treating a diseased condition, with the unintended side effect of sterility, are licit under the Principle of Double Effect. Such treatments might include: surgery to remove a diseased body part, even if that body part is a reproductive organ; chemotherapy/radiation for cancer; hormonal treatments; etc.

I suggest you read up on the Principle of Double Effect b/c if the woman were married and having intercourse, there is another item that comes in to play. Most BCPs aren’t simply contraceptive, they also have an abortifacient property. That is a different matter under the Principle of Double Effect, and moral theologians are split on whether all the conditions are met in that case.

Lastly, although BCPs are commonly prescribed for these types of issues, they are not a cure and are an off-label use. All they do is mask the underlying condition. The woman in question might want to attempt to find a pro-life doctor who will actually deal with the root of the problem instead of trying to put a band-aid (a band-aid with some very serious side effects) on it. You can look for pro-life doctors at www.omsoul.com, www.popepaulvi.com, or through you Diocesan NFP Office.

You also mention the Patch-- and that is a seriously flawed item. There have been over 20 deaths in the 3 years it’s been on the market. There are lawsuits and investigations going on right now. Depo is equally horrid. Don’t go there.

Here’s a pretty good article on the subject at American Life League, written by Dr. Paul Hayes. He’s not a moral theologian, and it a little off on what he says regarding the moral aspects (since he does not discuss Double Effect)-- but hey, I’m not a moral theologian either-- but his *medical *advice is spot-on.


I dunno about using BC just for “hormonal issues” but I did use to take it to regulate my menstrual cycle (I don’t have periods without the use of medicine) before I was married, but now use something else that isn’t contraceptive now that I’m married. While the stuff I use now isn’t as good and has more side effects then the BC, I refuse to use the BC now that i’m married.

I think there are other medicines available for simple “hormonal issues” but doctors are quick to prescribe birth control as a solution so she should get more then one opinion from different doctors before she makes a decision.


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