Birth Control


#1

Hi,

I’m re-accepting Catholicism into my life but I have a question. I’m going on birth control soon, strictly because my cycles cause me extreme pain and cause me to miss a lot of school and the pill will help regulate this. I’m a virgin and I’m not sexually active, nor do I intend to be until marraige. However, is this taking of a contraceptive still a sin? If so, how can I reconcile it with my faith? My body truly needs the medicine as my entire body falls extremely ill when I have my period. Is this a lesson?


#2

Please, find a doctor who will treat your illness not just give you something to mask your symptoms.

Something must be very wrong in the world, it seems half the new posters here have some mystery illness that causes immoblilizing pain during menses. Find a good doc, make sure you eat right - read “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition”.


#3

I’ve struggled with this for years, and it’s proving to be difficult…I’ve tried so many things. This is what my doctor, who’s been caring for me since I was a baby, is telling me is best, however, I mentioned this solution to a Catholic friend and she looked at me like I had four heads.

I find it hard to wrap my mind around that God gives me these incredible pains with seemingly no cure, but the solution is also a sin…

Thank you for the input though, much much appreciated.


#4

You can go on the pill for medical reasons. There are a lot of suggestions on here that you should get a different doctor who will treat it with anything other than the pill, but the Catholic church does allow you to go on the pill for medical reasons.


#5

It’s not a sin, nor would it be a sin to continue taking it throughout your life (even when you’re married) and having sex while on it (provided you’re married).

This question has been asked before in the Ask an Apologist forum, so you can search there if you want “official” confirmation.


#6

It’s not a sin to use birth control for medical reasons, even though another solution would be better.

It’s not uncommon for women to have debilitating period cramps, I know I do… about half the girls I know in real life do too.


#7

Flyingfish, it can be a sin, it depends on the intent, so just be careful how you word things. Being no longer Catholic perhaps you don’t view it the same, but new people will come on and take the word of others and see someone posting that contraception is okay without posting the reasoning and taking it as truth.

To the OP: the unfortunate thing, is that the Pill masks the problem. It doesn’t fix anything. I’d suggest looking into alternatives and finding a good pro-life doctor. It’s not a sin to take it when not married. However, there are negative side affects which affect you and the environment. Don’t go into taking the Pill blindly. When you are married, I would not be able to be on the Pill even if it weren’t a mortal sin for the fact that the Pill does have abortifacient properties. I could not have relations with my husband knowing that perhaps my body was aborting a newly fertilized egg (which is a baby since life begins at conception) due to the Pill.


#8

I urge you to check out the Pope Paul VI Institute and its Creighton model and NaProTechnology sections.

While it may be moral to use the pill to ‘treat’ menstrual cramps it may not be all that healthy for you.

And you say that this is your doctor who has ‘treated you all your life’ --that doesn’t sound as though he or she is a board-certified specialist in reproductive health though. Family physicians, GPs and pediatricians are not necessarily best qualified to know how to treat ‘speciality’ difficulties.

And new knowledge is coming out all the time about things which were once considered ‘top treatment’ but were found out to be huge problems over time. Doctors used to prescribe antibiotics at the drop of a hat–and now we have several viruses which are only responsive to ONE antibiotic --meaning they are just one step away from being ‘untreatable’ if they ‘mutate’ and no longer respond to that antibiotic, the way they stopped responding to others.

Aspirin (low dose) was considered essential to treat people with cardiac disease to lessen the risk of heart attacks. . .and then people developed ulcers from the aspirin! So NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatories) were developed. . .and they can cause ulcers too. Even Tylenol now carries a warning.

What is considered ‘accepted treatment’ today might be considered the worst possible treatment 10 years from now.

And in regulating your blood flow and pain, you might also wind up putting yourself at later risk for stroke with catestrophic brain damage.

So. . .get a second opinion from a specialist and check out the Paul VI institute.


#9

I was checked out by the head GYN at my healthcare provider beforehand because I was underage, it wasn’t just on a whim, just to clarify. We discussed it extensively with my parents as well.

But thank you very much for everyone’s input. I appreciate it very much.


#10

From a moral standpoint: Right now it's OK. The pill isn't acting as contraception if you're not having intercourse. It's just a way to control your hormones and take away your real period. There's nothing intrinsically evil about pure medicine. :)

From a practical standpoint: I'd stay away, just because birth control is a serious drug, and there are serious side effects that go with that. "Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition" is a really good read. Also invest in an electric heating blanket (mine works wonders). Exercise well. Stay away from caffeine. And, of course, find some good extra strength pain killers.

My cramps are bad (terrible!). Pain killers alone won't cut it, even at the maximum dosage. But, with the powers of these things combined, I manage. I'm married, so I don't have the option, but I much prefer all of this to the side effects of the birth control pill, anyway. There has been quite a bit of litigation lately over these side effects. Research the pill, try these new remedies, and do a personal cost/benefit analysis.


#11

Nicole,

What you have discribed falls under what the Church refers to as Lawful Therepudic Means.

Pope Paul VI’s enclyclical on birth control “Humane Vitae” covers what you describe.

Lawful Therapeutic Means

  1. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)

#12

I appreciate it so much, everyone! I'll research first before making any final plans, thank you!


#13

[quote="BrokenFortress, post:7, topic:194022"]
Flyingfish, it can be a sin, it depends on the intent, so just be careful how you word things. Being no longer Catholic perhaps you don't view it the same, but new people will come on and take the word of others and see someone posting that contraception is okay without posting the reasoning and taking it as truth.

[/quote]

It's a sin to take the pill to contracept, but it's not a sin to take it to treat physical symptoms (and have sex while taking it for this reason provided you're married, despite the fact that the pill has abortifacient properties just like it would be okay to take any medicine to treat an illness even if it has abortifacient properties).

The OP is not obligated to seek out a pro life doctor (this can be difficult and expensive) to look for alternative treatments, though she can if she wants to.

It would be a better solution obviously if she could correct her problem without medication, but it's not necessarily possible either from a medical standpoint or a financial standpoint.


#14

#15

Hi, GFarmer!

The difference between your blood pressure medication and birth control is that high blood pressure is a life-threatening symptom and period cramps, acne, mood swings, etc. are uncomfortable (sometimes unbearably so), but not-life threatening. The only reason that birth control works, in fact, is that it takes away your cycle (and the hormonal fluxuations that go with that cycle). It's not made to treat period cramps. That's just a side effect.

And so, people are reasonably wary about the use of birth control (a drug with potentially life threatening side effects) to mask the symptoms of other, underlying problems like endometriosis, especially when there are other possible remedies out there.

If you don't believe me about the side effects, here is just one recent case from the Appellate Court of Connecticut: A 45 year old woman experiencing menopausal symptoms went to see her doctor. The doctor put her on hormonal birth control. One month later, the woman was experiencing a strange leg pain and died of a blood clot shortly thereafter. The appellate court remanded for a new trial, finding that a reasonable jury could find that that the doctor’s failure to warn this woman of the risks associated with birth control contributed to her death. See Curran v. Kroll 118 Conn. App. 401 (Dec. 15, 2009). The court explained how knowledge of the serious side effects could have saved this woman’s life because she might have sought more immediate medical care. jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROap/AP118/118AP41.pdf

Another example is the Yaz/Yasmine litigation, where the following side effects are increasingly reported, even among young, otherwise healthy women: deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attack and gallbladder problems.

Now, in my mind, when it comes to medication, the benefits should always outweigh the costs. We are, justifiably, pointing out the costs. Not treating the real cause of the problem is just one cost among many. It's up to the individual to make her own risk assessment.


#16

[quote="GFarmer, post:14, topic:194022"]

I find it quite interesting that every time someone on these forums asks about the pill to treat symptoms of their period a bunch of posters jump in a tell them that it just masks the symptoms and is not a cure.

Well I guess a lot of medications like blood pressure med's just mask the symptoms, my blood pressure is normal if I take it, high if I don't. Its not a cure but I can get by and live a healthier and hopefully longer life with it.

Another way to look at it is that it does cure my problem when I am on it. It seems that this is what these other posters are saying.
[/quote]

This. I take medications for allergies and asthma that mask symptoms but don't treat the underlying problem. So what? Many medications are like this, and guess what, all medications have side effects.

Whether to take a medication is always a balance between its benefits and side effects. If a condition is debilitating enough, it's worth risking the side effects to treat the symptoms.

What kind of treatment could she get other than the pill? I am skeptical that a condition severe enough to require medicine could be treated without. Would she be given other medication instead of the pill? If so, it would also have side effects. Maybe side effects worse than the pill itself.

The doctors who prescribe the pill aren't stupid, and they don't have ulterior motives to put every woman on the contraceptive pill. If there is some better treatment that doens't require medication but works, why isn't it being used by the medical community?

Also the poster who said that blood pressure medicine is okay but the pill is not probably never had debilitating cramps that made the sufferer unable to do anything for the duration of the period. It might not shorten your life by an earlier death, but it will shorten your life by making a significant part of it a time when you're bedridden and can't do anything.


#17

My cramps have made me vomit from the pain and caused my legs to become numb. I’ve stayed in bed all day before, missing important classes and calling off work. I save up my sick days and unexcused absences, because I can see the day coming. For me, I still think that the costs of birth control outweigh the benefits. I said myself that it might be different for someone else. Everyone is different, and they can assess the risks themselves. This is not a moral judgment, it’s a prudential one after all. Alas, we are a pill-popping society. :slight_smile: I really don’t want to fight about this, though. Because, you’re right, the OP’s case might be worse. My cramps have gotten much better over the last few months (I think) because I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins, exercising more, and cutting the caffeine (DH and I are TTC).


#18

FF, you honestly believe that doctors don’t get anything out of promoting medication? Many physicians will receive incentives for selling a drug. It’s all a business, pharmaceutical companies are in it for the money not solely for the patient’s benefit. But that’s a whole 'nother thread…

You’re right, all drugs have side effects. But some are worse than others. That’s why we post, because no one should blindly go on the Pill without weighing the negative side effects. Some of them can be quite serious. And that seriousness becomes more once someone is married and is having sex because it can cause the abortion of babies. But that’s how I see it.


#19

[quote="BrokenFortress, post:18, topic:194022"]
FF, you honestly believe that doctors don't get anything out of promoting medication? Many physicians will receive incentives for selling a drug. It's all a business, pharmaceutical companies are in it for the money not solely for the patient's benefit. But that's a whole 'nother thread..

[/quote]

Personally I think this is paranoid thinking. I can also say that doctors benefit from denying you treatment because it means you'll be healthy and they won't make money off your illness. Or that drug companies benefit in putting things in their drugs to make you sick so you'll need even more drugs.

If you go down the road of thinking that doctors would knowingly and deliberately choose to put her on a bad treatment to make money, that road leads in a crazy paranoid direction that I personally am not willing to take.

There are enough sick people for doctors to make plenty of money without denying you the best treatment.

(It would truly require a conspiracy to carry out this kind of thing, and all it would take would be some doctors with a conscience to come out and say that other doctors are deliberately hiding a superior treatment from their patience to make money etc.)

You're right, all drugs have side effects. But some are worse than others. That's why we post, because no one should blindly go on the Pill without weighing the negative side effects. Some of them can be quite serious. And that seriousness becomes more once someone is married and is having sex because it can cause the abortion of babies. But that's how I see it.

What are alternatives to using the pill to treat the OP's condition? Are they also medications?


#20

A Catholic NFP-only doctor realizes that hormonal contraception is poison.

My first hand experience: I have PCOS. MOST docs just put someone on the pill to mask the symptoms, and make everything look fine.

This is equivalent to someone who complains of a headache in the same place everyday for months and just getting some tylenol, instead of getting a catscan, and possibly getting the tumor out causing the headache.

Instead, after some blood sugar tests, the issues with PCOS were related to that. So I am on blood sugar meds that cures the PCOS issues. The blood sugar thing is a struggle to fix, but that is my own willpower and a longer story that doesn’t fit here.

2nd…I also, from charting discovered some symptoms that could have been a sign of cancer. I also had horrible anxiety, insomnia, pms symptoms, etc. Now many docs would put me on Prozac. an NFP doc watched my charts and did some tests, and voila…its low progesterone. So instead of Medicating and masking the symptoms, I get a natural progesterone at the right time that helps the body work the way its supposed to.

This is what is being talked about with trying to actually fix the problem. The pill makes the body think its pregnant. It is a pill that makes the body stop working the way its supposed to.

There are many many NFP-only docs who can tell you the science behind why hormonal contraceptives are poison.

You can find them at www.omsoul.com


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