Birth Control & Health


#1

Greetings!

I hope all who read this message are well. It’s been a few months since I’ve been to this site and after browsing a bit, I remember why I enjoyed coming here so much!

Anyway, I have a question about birth control. My fiancée was recently advised by her doctor (who is Catholic) to begin birth control for health reasons. The doctor told her that, if she didn’t get on birth control now (for a few years or more), then there is a possibility that she would not be able to have children at all in the future. Her illness is something personal that I don’t feel is necessary to share in the forum, but I just wanted to set up the situation.

I personally believe that God will take care of her and if we are meant to bring a child into this world, we have nothing to worry about. But my fiancée is very worried about this and wants to take the doc’s advice.

Now I’m not starting this thread to ask advice on what we should do. As I’m sure many of you would say, it is up to us. I am writing, however, to tap the wonderful resource that is CAF to see if there was any official church teaching on what is morally acceptable in a situation like this.

Thanks for your time!

SFO


#2

hi sfo and welcome back:)

I would get a second opinion, before making the choice. I was on bc for medical reasons at one point, but there are side effects (negative) of being on bc, and also if one is on them over a number of year, the risk of certain cancers can be a possibility. There are also positive side effects, as bc can prevent some cancers…but all in all–I decided to go off of them for religious and medical reasons–as the side effects were wreaking havoc with my health. Therefore, I’d seek a second opinion. Not sure what the health issue is, but never heard of someone being told that bc will *aid *in conception some day. :confused: I would seek a second opinion, if it were me.

Good luck and keep us posted.:slight_smile: I’ll keep her in my prayers.


#3

It is morally permissable.

But, I would suggest your fiance contact www.popepaulvi.com for a second opinion.


#4

As 1ke said, it is morally permissable to take birth control pills in this situation. this is because the reason for the medication is NOT to avoid pregnancy, but to treat another condition. It is not immoral to treat this other condition even though it may have an undesired side effect of preventing pregnancy. The prevention of pregnancy, because it is not intended, it is not sinful.


#5

:yup: Many doctors prescribe BCP because it’s easy. They don’t want to do the work of actually tracking down what is wrong and fixing the actual problem. For most gynecological problems, BCP do absolutely nothing to fix the problem, they just cover up the symptoms. If she really wants a treatment, not just a placebo to cover up the problem, she needs to see another doctor, and the link above is a great place to start. Good luck!


#6

This is pretty much what any (and almost every) doctor will tell women who have health problems. You can go on hormones that aren’t birth control in most cases and it usually corrects the problem, but it doesn’t cause the death of developing children.

(I’m not a doctor, so obviously I can’t give medical advice, but contacting an endocrinologist (hormone doctor) might be a good idea.)


#7

If you cask Judy Brown at EWTN she can put you in touch with expert sources. Or you might just check some of her previous answers.


#8

I would seek a second opinion because that is always a wise thing to do–particularly when a doctor presents a patient with only a single option. I would also ask the doctor to explain the reasoning behind the recommendation along with alternative treatment options.

From a moral standpoint, there is nothing wrong with using hormones to correct or treat a medical condition.

The pill consists of hormones and some women need supplemental hormones to correct an imbalance. Some types of birth control can provide this correction. Moreover, some types of the pill have much less side effects than other types. For example, women taking Yasmin develop more blood clots than women taking other versions of the pill, according to medical studies, Only a doctor can recommend the right medicine for your fiance.

Any medication has side effects but a doctor can help your fiancee pick the most effective and safe option for her. For some, the hormonal correction the pill provides has been a miracle. And even in cases where it treats the symptoms, that can still be a miracle. But it is important to make sure one`s doctor takes the time to find the root problem! Some doctors prescribe it without getting to the root of things, but a good doctor will take the time to diagnose the problem first!

Again, there is nothing morally wrong with taking the pill to correct or treat a medical condition. But like all medications, it does have serious side effects for some women and the decision to take the pill should be an informed one. For most women, it is very safe, but a doctor should take the time to rule out risk factors first. For example, obese women or those who smoke are more likely to develop serious problems such as blood clots or high blood pressure.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#9

I agree with the posters recommending a second opinion, and that the Pill can be acceptable for therapeutic use when the contraceptive effect is not desired.

I also want to add that being on the Pill can sometimes lower a woman’s fertility for years afterwards - or permanently. This isn’t information doctors usually volunteer, and they may not be educated on the research to know for themselves.

One of the ways the Pill works is to dry up the fertile-type cervical fluid that allows the sperm to travel and meet the egg for fertilization. After the Pill is discontinued, the mechanism that produces the fertile-type cervical fluid does not always start working again.

(This was the experience I had, the result of being on the Pill before I was Catholic. So far my husband I have have not been able to conceive after almost 5 years of marriage.)

Another thing to consider is that the Pill doesn’t always prevent ovulation. It also can prevent implantation of a newly conceived human person. So I would highly recommend to anyone on the Pill for therapeutic reasons to try to estimate the time around when the wife may ovulate and refrain from intercourse so as not to possibly conceive a new life that could not survive.

Some things to think about! May God be with you as you discern what to do.


#10

Very true. Doctors NEVER tell you that the pill is actually an abortifacient! :frowning: I sure didn’t know when I took it years ago (before I converted). I didn’t know a LOT of things about it–like the possibility for side effects. I got a major blood clot in my leg caused directly by the BCP. I was never told about that either. :mad:


#11

I am sorry to hear you are experiencing difficulty conceiving. But this could be unrelated to the pill. Please provide a link to a medical source showing what you wrote above is medically accurate. It would be interesting to read a scientific study on this as I have heard this claim from many people on this forum but never seen a scientific study posted.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#12

You raise an important point about the risk of blood clots. Many doctors never take a family history to ask about this, and many people don`t find out they have a genetic disposition for blood clots (clotting disorder) until after they are on the pill and it is too late. Things like wearing a cast, being overweight, and smoking can also increase the already higher risk of blood clots when on the pill.

The information on the increased risks of blood clots and how the pill works is included in the package insert but I bet most women never take the time to read it. Reading the insert was the first time I learned how the pill worked. But not all birth control pills prevent implantation.

The pill has risks, like every medication. But compared to other treatments, it can be the best medical option.

OP–please encourage your fiance to get a second, and even third opinion, before making a decision. If the pill ends up being the best treatment, it is not our place to judge her, and there is nothing morally wrong with taking it for medical reasons, but there may be better options.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#13

I wish you and your fiance the best in discerning your options. I also pray your fiance’s condition improves!!

I was put on the bcp when I was 17 because I lost a lot of weight and did not have a period for a year. When I finally reached a more normal weight for my height when I turned 20 I decided to go off the birth control. When I did, I gained a lot of weight, stopped having periods, and have had hormone irregularities (such as incredibly low progesterone). Through the help of the Pope Paul VI institute and Dr. Hilgers, I am finally have started having periods on my own again and am starting to figure out what I can do to actually cure/treat the hormone irregularities.

My boyfriend and I plan to marry in about a year and a half, and I’m not sure what is in store for us as far as concieving. If I continue having problems with progesterone, I may not be able to hold onto a pregnancy. Luckily, with Dr. Hilgers, I have a better chance since he has helped many women who have had problems conceiving.

In all, I have heard doctors say that it “was good” that the bcp helped me by supplementing hormones, but I’m really not sure. It was all synthetic hormones, and I think now my body is having trouble producing the progesterone since it isn’t used to having to do that. So I’m not sure what I think…and currently I do not plan on ever going back on birth control since it has been so incredibly difficult to get my body back to “normal”.

Anyways, I am skeptical of the bcp because of my problems after being on it. There is a chance your girlfriend might be different, but I’d really highly suggest a second opinion…maybe even talking to Dr. Hilgers and the PPVI institue!


#14

By the way I should mention that Dr. Hilgers was the 7th doctor and therefore 7th opinion I got!! I was tired of doctors simply prescribing the pill without looking into all the other issues I was having------they weren’t trying to figure out the true problem of why I wasn’t having cycles and why I was gaining weight.


#15

Thank you all so much for your help!


#16

SFO ~ I also recommend contacting the PPVI Institute. I completed the NFP Nurse Practitioner program, and NPT (NaProTECHNOLOGY) *may *provide more effective alternatives. This is not true for every woman/couple, but it is worth checking into.

But not all birth control pills prevent implantation.

I’ve seen this before on the CAF, could you please site a medical reference?

Thanks!


#17

The doctor told her that, if she didn’t get on birth control now (for a few years or more), then there is a possibility that she would not be able to have children at all in the future.

I"m getting the feeling that what you are referring to is PCOD or PCOS in which case I would second everyone’s recommendations to get another (preferably Catholic) medical opinion because the pill is doled out almost without thought for this condition and really only masks the problem.


#18

I was referring to pills that contain progestin only. This is sometimes called the mini-pill can be used for medical reasons only. I don`t have the study handy but nih,gov has some good information. The progestins in birth control pills create a thick cervical mucus that hampers the transport of sperm. This can make it harder for implantation to occur as well, but not impossible, especially given the high rate of pregnancy. I will double check the statistics and post exact statistics and references but if I recall correctly, 20 percent of women taking the mini-pill will become pregnant within one year.

I don`t know that I worded it right, but it gives women a false sense of security to say they are effective. Moreover, some birth control pills contain additional chemicals that have a higher rate of preventing implantation, so if a woman is going to take a birth control for medical reasons, and is able to choose a pill less likely to inhibit or prevent implantation, than that seems the best moral way to go.

It is after midnight in Japan so I will write more when I am not so tired and will track down the stats and post the links.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#19

I prescribed birth control once upon a time, which is why I asked. POPs alter the endometrium and are effective. Contraceptive Technology (family planning clinic “bible”) states, “[p]rogestin-only pills are slightly less effective than combined oral contraceptives (OCs). In the first year of use, the probability of pregnancy among typical users is 8%. With perfect use, only 0.3% of women would become pregnant”. I’ve reviewed the studies supporting these stats.

The slighlty higher pregnancy rate (typical use) with POPs is not scientfic evidence the enodmetrium isn’t altered.

Moreover, some birth control pills contain additional chemicals that have a higher rate of preventing implantation, so if a woman is going to take a birth control for medical reasons, and is able to choose a pill less likely to inhibit or prevent implantation, than that seems the best moral way to go.

It is after midnight in Japan so I will write more when I am not so tired and will track down the stats and post the links.

I’m intrigued and not sure how anyone could determine one hormonal contraceptive prevents implantation more frequently compared to another since the abortifacient effect is based on indirect evidence (changes in the endometrium). How does anyone know some birth control pills have a higher rate of preventing implantation? OCs, the patch, the ring, the shot, the implant, & POPs are all potential abortifacients related to the endometrial changes including development of an atrophic endometrium, but no one knows if or how often implantation is prevented.

If you have scientific evidence POPs do not prevent implantation, I would like to review it.

Here is a link to prescribing info for one of the popular POPs.


#20

What?

I know you don’t want to share her particular issue on this forum, but have you asked what in the world the doctor diagnosed as needing a BCP so she could be fertile later on?

Is it PCOS? How strange. The ones that do respond to BCPs are usually naturally occurring and commonly found in young adults. If it’s not that kind, then it won’t be helped at all by BCPs and in fact can simmer for all the years she uses them, until she finally discovers a huge medical issue.

Is she suffering from an edocrine disease that is affecting her fertility?

Definitely help her to see several doctors, including the one who has known her the longest, a specialist in woman’s health, an endocrinologist, etc.


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