Birth Control...Medical Issue

I was wondering if it was permissible to take birth control if getting pregnant while on a different medication was not advised?
I currently take Topamax; some of you may have heard that it causes severe birth defects. As a result, my doctor advises me not to get pregnant on it. She has suggested an IUD as Topamax actually decreases the effectiveness of the pill. I am not sure what to do here and I need to Topamax for my migranes but do not want to risk getting pregnant even with NFP.
BC is also suggested as I have recently had a baby in March and though everything went well for the most part, I have a congenital heart condition and getting pregnant (esp right away) has been ill-advised.
I know we as Catholics should leave everything up to God but I am worried about the above things, esp my heart. Within minutes after having my daughter, my heart was unable to adjust to the fluid level decrease and my blood pressure plummeted and I had to have epi injections and blood transfusions and was kept in the hospital for three days.

No because you would be using birth control for the purpose of contracepting.

If you had a serious gynological condition that requires the use of hormones (birth control pills) as medicine, then it’s allowed to treat the medical condition.

Birth control is never allowed to be used as a contraceptive.

I would go back to the doctor, or even a different doctor and ask if there is another treatment for migraines available. Explain that using an IUD is against your faith and you are looking for another option. I have been told by my doctor that IUDs are dangerous and can cause strokes, so I would ask about that as well.

I do know that my sister has gotten pregnant while on an IUD twice. In both cases, they were not able to remove the IUD without damaging the placenta. She lost the first baby at seven months and the second was born healthy. They removed the IUD after his birth and since then, she has used NFP and barrier methods. (She is agnostic and has no religious reason to use NFP.) She says she would rather give away a dozen live babies to good families than risk losing another baby, however, she has not had another pregnancy for over seven years. For that reason, I would never rely on a IUD if I felt a pregnancy would risk my life.

An IUD is an abortion device. It works by not allowing the embryo from implanting in the uterus.
So no, absolutely not allowed in any circumstance.


I know Catholics are against all forms of contraception, but for the sake of accuracy is it really true that an IUD is an abortion device?

From my reading of the literature, it seems IUD’s work by preventing fertilization (sperm not meeting egg). Is this wrong, if so could you point me to a web page explaining otherwise? Thanks…

from WebMD

How it works

Both types of IUD prevent fertilization of the egg by damaging or killing sperm. The IUD also affects the uterine lining (where a fertilized egg would implant and grow).

Hormonal IUD. This IUD prevents fertilization by damaging or killing sperm and making the mucus in the cervix thick and sticky, so sperm can't get through to the uterus. It also keeps the lining of the uterus (endometrium) from growing very thick.1 **This makes the lining a poor place for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.** The hormones in this IUD also reduce menstrual bleeding and cramping.
Copper IUD. Copper is toxic to sperm. It makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm. This fluid contains white blood cells, copper ions, enzymes, and prostaglandins.1

The copper IUD is recommended for emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex in the past few days and need to avoid pregnancy and you plan to continue using the IUD for birth control. As a short-term type of emergency contraception, the copper IUD is more expensive than emergency contraception with hormone pills.

Now you see, the sperm in the “emergency contraception” is already inside the uterus. So only something that stops the embryo from implanting in the uterus will work.

My husband had a serious heart condition and the last 5 years of his life could not have sex. I never once said anything to him about it and wouldn’t ever do so. I would never have wanted him to risk his life.( He was only 43 years old.) It may be necessary for your husband to understand your health situation also. I never heard of anyone ever dying for not having sex. Love means more that that. God Bless, Memaw

I have a (much loved) son who was conceived while I was using an IUD. I had no idea how I would care for another child at the time and abortion was urged on me by several. Thank God I didn’t listen to them. If I were in the situation you are, I would not depend on NFP or anything else. They can all fail and/or involve causing a very early abortion. My husband now is incapable of having sex. I am not happy about it by a long shot, but it isn’t actually killing me.

The product info sheet that comes with each IUD will explain how the device works. Here is one for “Paragard”, which is one of the more widely-used IUD’s in North America.

Halfway down the page 4, under the heading of “Information for Patients” is the question “How does Paragard work?” It then states, “Ideas about how ParaGard® works include preventing sperm from reaching the
egg, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg, and possibly preventing the egg from attaching
(implanting) in the uterus.”


Such a serious situation calls for abstinence.

That doesn’t reflect Catholic teaching. Catholicism is not providentialist. The Church doesn’t require you to engage in relations with your spouse with a “whatever happens” mentality. We can abstain for just causes, either periodically through NFP or if there is a reason so very serious that one must abstain totally, then that is the solution.

I am very sorry you are having health issues, but contraception is always wrong. Both situations you describe above are not taking “the pill” as a medicine to treat a condition with the unintended side effect of temporary sterility. What you describe is taking the pill or inserting an IUD specifically to prevent pregnancy, something we can never do. Contraception is intrinsically evil.

yes, it is really true that IUDs have multiple mechanism and one of them is inhibiting implantation.

How exactly does a piece a plastic floating around in your uterus do that? It doesn’t.

The main mechanism an IUD uses is thinning the uterine lining to prevent implantation. Some IUDs also give off a hormones to inhibit sperm transport and attempt to suppress ovulation.

From the Mirena website, you can click on the prescribing information link. Here are excerpts, bolding mine:

The local mechanism by which continuously released LNG enhances contraceptive effectiveness of Mirena has not been conclusively demonstrated. Studies of Mirena and similar LNG IUS prototypes have suggested several mechanisms that prevent pregnancy: thickening of cervical mucus preventing passage of sperm into the uterus, inhibition of sperm capacitation or survival, and** alteration of the endometrium**.

Mirena has mainly local progestogenic effects in the uterine cavity. The high local levels of LNG2 lead to morphological changes including stromal pseudodecidualization, glandular atrophy, a leukocytic infiltration and a decrease in glandular and stromal mitoses. (i.e. changes the uterine lining)

Ovulation is inhibited in **some **women using Mirena. In a 1-year study, approximately 45% of menstrual cycles were ovulatory, and in another study after 4 years, 75% of cycles were ovulatory.


Allegra gives some good advice. Years ago, I recall a female friend telling me when she was in high school she did not want to go on accutane for cystic acne, because her doctor also advised her to be on The Pill, even though she wasn’t sexually active.

One thing I would advise is to find an obstetrician/gynecologist who does not prescribe birth control. He or she might be able to suggest an alternative medication for your migraines. Your female Catholic friends might know of one, and some advertise in parish bulletins.

It would at least be worth a phone call, even to one an afternoon’s drive away.

A directory can be found on this website:

I hope this helps.

By the way, Serenity412, Here’s something to think about: I recall a few years back hearing a radio show on NFP by a woman who was advised not to get pregnant because of diabetes. She had been using NFP for years. I also know a few couples who use NFP because their wives have had multiple C-sections, that delivery would be complicated, particularly after 3 or 4 C-sections. I believe in these situations, NFP can be practiced as a grave reason to avoid pregnancy.

Even the neurologist the OP sees for the migraines may have other options for her if he or she knows that birth control goes against the OP’s faith. Most doctors just assume that everyone is okay with it. However, I’m sure that doctor has treated women who wanted to get pregnant, were pregnant, or weren’t able to use birth control for other health reasons. The medication the OP is taking may be her doctor’s first choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one she offers.

I think the studies that have concluded Topamax can cause birth defects were done on women who took it throughout their pregnancy. I know that you would probably need to taper off, but is there a reason you couldn’t track your cycles carefully and stop taking it if you found you were pregnant? I was also taking a (different) medication for migraines when I became pregnant, and both my neurologist and OB said that as long as I stopped taking it when I found myself pregnant, it was fine. It might be something to check with your doctors about.

I also agree that you should check with your doctors and see what other medications you may be able to take- though if you’re like me and have had migraines nearly your whole life, you probably have tried everything and know what will and will not work or whether you can take the alternatives with your heart condition.

This year, after our fifth child. My wife had a life pulmonary embolism and almost died. She has to be on blood thinners for the rest of her life. Her blood thinner can cause birth defects so if she gets pregnant we have to switch thinners ASAP. Our Doctor also advised to use ABC. We stated our beliefs and were respected.
The point is. The medical industry does not have the same moral code as a Catholic does. So one needs to marry the two and there are Holy ways of doing so that do not fall into sin. One of the biggest questions people fail to pursue is “What are some alternative drugs or treatments?”

We have to refrain from medical advice on the boards but we can offer moral and Catholic advice which states that one may not commit a sin, even if medicine is involved.

In this case, NFP is a valid and moral option.

Not to derail but for those reading this who have other issues regarding birth control as medicine, and pregnancy, may I recommend contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center:


I think any NFP office can tell you how to get in touch with The Paul VI Institute, (Omaha, NE) for help. They have offices all over the US. They treat the whole person. God Bless, Memaw

Thanks, I wasn’t looking for treatment advice. We have it all under control. I was just showing the OP that there are others with issues who are given the advice to use ABC and who would never choose to do so.:wink:

I hope there is no issue that we need to seek Paul VI institute out for, but if there are it is always good to know they are there!:thumbsup:

Understand. Thank you. What about using it for a gynecologic reason. Not to put to much info out there but since my daughter was born,my menstrual cycle has been very irregular. Can I take it just long enough to get it back on track so I can do NFP. As of now, NFP wouldnt work as my cycle is irradic.

No, as NFP can still be used with irregular cycles. My cycles are all over the place. It can be done with the help of a good instructor.

Birth Control Pills can be used for more serious medical issues such as Endometriosis or heavy bleeding to the point it becomes a medical need to lighten the flow of blood. In this case it would be used in a medicinal way to slow or stop cycles and the heavy flow associated with them.

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