birth control......

I’m having sort of a moral struggle. Recently I have been having some severe abdominal pain which caused me to visit my OBGYN to see what was going on. He did some tests and discovered I had some large ovarian cysts and prescribed me some birth control pills to help stop future cysts. Now my problem here is I’m a pretty devout catholic (and so is my spouse). I am fully aware of the churches teaching on artifical means of birth control and i agree with these teachings. So I’m torn about what to do with this prescription. I have been on the pills now for a few months and just feel guilty all the time about it. I know I am not taking them to help prevent conception but ultimatly that is what they do. I’m not sure I should stop taking them because the pain from the ruptured cysts was horrible!!! i was just wondering if any of you out there have any thoughts or suggestions for me.

You are not using contraception. You are being given a treatment for ovarian cysts which has a contraceptive side effect. Under the Principle of Double Effect this is allowable. You should talk to a trusted priest for spiritual direction in this area.

However, I would not stop there. I would contact a pro-life doctor to see if they have any other treatment for the cysts. Really the pills aren’t preventing the cysts or treating the root cause of the cysts, they are just suppressing them only as long as you take the pills. I wouldn’t accept this doctor’s course of treatment, I would push for other options.

Agreed, I would also add that you may want to think about trying to abstain when you know you are fertile since the pill can act as an aborifacient. Although…now that I am thinking this through…I guess the point of the pill is not allow you to ovulate at all, so I’m not sure if you would see any biological signs to tell you whether or not you have breakthrough ovulation. So I suppose you could completely abstain, but I’m sure that could potentially put stress on your marriage and is something you’d definately have to pray about and talk with your spouse. Either way, abstaining in this matter (if it is possible) is not REQUIRED by the Church, but it may help you to feel less guilty while you seek out other options, which I DEFINATELY think you should do. To get started, check on to see if there are any teachers in your area…ovarian cysts are a fairly common problem that I think Creighton-trained doctors are able to address. Also check with

I agree here. Perhaps the doctor doesn’t know that you object to using the pill. Did you discuss it? If so, and he said it is the only way, I would seek a second and maybe a third opinion.

I, too, would recommend abstaining when you think you are fertile for the same reasons as the previous poster said. And, as has been recommended, I would recommend seeking some spiritual guidence as well.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. It is simply my experience.

I too have had ovarian cysts. I was put on the pill to control them way back when, when I was not Catholic. I would still get 2 or 3 a year anyway. When I became Catholic, I stopped taking the pill. Around the same time I was put on Cymbalta, an antidepressant, for unrelated reasons. This was almost a year ago now, and I have not yet had a cyst! Obviously, I could still have one, but it has been great going almost a full year without one.

That being said, I think it is best to get a second opinion, as I know the first line of treatment for ovarian cysts is the pill, it does not always work completely, and some things might work better/ without the moral questionability.

This is what 99% of all OBGYN’s do. They put everyone and anyone on the pill and don’t take the time to truely find out what is causing the cyst and the effect this will eventually have on your ovaries. The pill also is very bad for your overall health. I would stop taking the pill immediatly and find yourself a true pro-lfie doctor. This might be very difficult if not impossible depending on where you live. My wife is currently seeing Dr. Hilgers (shes due in about 3 1/2 months). He is totally Catholic and inline with the teaching of the Church. If you go to his website listed in an earlier post you can read all about taking the pill and how bad it is for you. I would call them and see if there is a Catholic doctor in your area who will treat you properly. I have personally talked to Dr. Hilgers and he constantly talks about women who are put on the pill for various health reasons for years. Often they end with fertility problems because of cysts or endometrious have scared up their ovaries and now they can’t have children.

the problem with using the pill is that it can be abortifacient, and you can’t ever know when or if it is acting in that way at any given cycle. I saw a Catholic ob/gyn fertility specialist on EWTN a few weeks ago, and he talked about how ob/gyn’s frequently use birth control pills to “treat” problems, when really all they’re doing is alleviating symptoms, not treating the underlying problem/cause. I wish I could remember his name! But I would suggest contacting the following pro-life organizations to see if they might have information to help you: (Couple to Couple League)

I found the following article on the American Life League ( website, which doesn’t directly address your situation, but if you contact them they may be able to answer your concerns and give you some helpful advice

God bless!

His name was Dr. Hilgers (my wifes doctor) from the Pope Paul VI institue in Omaha, Nebraska. I saw the same episode on EWTN.

thank you – I’ll try to remember his name for future reference!:thumbsup:

Hey wow – the exact same thing happened to me back in 97…I ended up with an appendectomy…lol – it was cysts that had ruptured, but they were on the underside, so couldn’t see that until they got in there with the scope, etc. But at least now I dont’ have to worry about appendicitis, right? sigh

They also put me on the pill, but I was only engaged at the time, so it wasn’t an issue of abortifacent or not…and by the way, after about 2mos, it stopped working for me, and I didn’t like the fact that I was pumping more support behind the ABC movement. Taking bcp’s for cysts is simply a bandaid for the problem. It covers it up so you can’t feel it; instead of finding a reason behind why you’re having these cysts, it shuts down your ovaries so you won’t have them…doesn’t sound very hippocratic to me…lol. If you go to the ewtn site and look under libraries – pull up the latest audio version of “the world over” – it has Dr Hilgers on it, and he discusses your situation EXACTLY…I was floored to hear him say it, b/c how often do you hear someone talk about your exact gyn situation?? I mean really?? LOL…

If it were me, I’d come off the pills, and get on a good analgesic…all the cyst does is cause pain. WHen I get a cyst, I take a good napracin or like-wise pain killer; it’s a day or two of discomfort, like really bad cramps and back pain…but there’s not much they’re going to do medically, and to me, if I can live thru it with a little bit of motrin or aleve, vs. taking a regular pill every day that’s designed to work AGAINST my normal bodily functions, and could be an abortifacient were my DH and I to conceive while taking it…I’d go for the motrin, even if it doesn’t kill the pain completely…kwim? You can PM me if you want to discuss further offline – I’ve been where you are, and know the pain they cause…(that’s why they took my appendix…they were convinced that’s what the problem was b/c of the pain levels)

Most ob/gyns prescribe the pill because they are lazy. It does nothing to TREAT the problem, it only COVERS the symptoms, thus leaving the real problem still there. You have to find out why you are having cysts and treat the cause. I have PolyCystic Ovarian Disease myself, and know that it can be treated. See a reproductive endocrinologist, not just a regular ob/gyn, or contact to get help. Do not keep taking the pill! It is not helping anything, only covering the symptoms! There are real treatments out there, you just need to find them!

I agree with everyone else; definitely get a second opinion. Here is a website that helps you search for a doctor who will most definitely respect your decisions and concerns: I don’t know your age or other health issues, but BCP can have serious side effects and I feel should always be considered a last resort.
Click search and then follow the directions for a physician search.

You should also look around this website; they have excellent articles on the dangers of BCP.

I was on birth control pills for a similar reason from 1997-1999. Despite the pills, I conceived and gave birth to my beautiful daughter, for which I am so grateful to God.

Someone earlier suggested abstaining during the times when you would possibly be fertile. If you do have to remain on BCP, I would suggest that as well. If would keep your NFP intact, at least emotionally, and would be a good way to assuage your guilt and remind yourself that you’re not on it for contraceptive purposes.

Good luck and God bless!!


I get cysts as well. My doctor suggested the Pill, and even though I was not yet married, I refused and asked if there were other options. My mother had been on them for medical reasons, but she had such awful side effects she had to stop taking them. My OB/GYN looked at me like I was from another planet. I bet nobody had ever asked her about alternative treatments for cysts before. I did speak to another Dr. about things I can do.

I recommend you get Marilyn Shannon’s book “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition”. It has information that can help you to eliminate any dietary factors that may be adding to the cyst problem. It was recommended to me by several people on these forums, actually, and I find that her advice really does help! It also helps to get regular exercise. Many of the things she suggests were also verified by that other Dr. I spoke to. It won’t prevent the cysts entrirely, but it can help keep them down to a level where they won’t be sending you to the hospital all the time.

Also, get a second opinion from a Dr. who isn’t going to just throw birth control pills at the problem. The Pill has other side effects, including increased risk of blood clots, and certain kinds of cancers, in addition to its abortafacient properties, should a breakthrough ovulation occur. The Pope Paule VI institute is a good resource.

Ovarian cysts are often a sign of a bigger problem that creates a hormone imbalance. It’s always nice if you can find a doctor who is willing (assuming your insurance is also willing) to find the root of the problem, or at least test for a few potential causes to eliminate some possibilities.

Many here have offered well meaning advice, but I’m assuming they are not medical professionals. I suspect most doctors suggest birth control pills because statistics prove they work the vast majority of the time.

I recommend you do not stop taking them until you find another legitimate solution. Talk to other doctors as some have suggested; get second and third opinions. If you can find a catholic doctor, talk to them. Do research on your own.

If you are really having a guilt complex over this, then maybe you should abstain from sex during your fertile time as some have suggested.

Good Luck, but again I would not quit cold turkey w/o another legitimate solution in place. A ruptured cyst I assume is nothing to play with.

Actually, ruptured cysts aren’t really a big health threat in and of themselves…they’re painful, and miserable, but it’s not like the fluid (how little there is) is toxic or anything…it’s just the pressure the fluid places on your nerves that causes much pain. Nine times out of 10, if you go into the hospital and they discover a cyst, they won’t do anything but give you some demerol or horsepill motrin and send you home. They resolve on their own (yes, there are extreme cases where they grow to the size of a softball and have to be removed or drained, but those are not the type you can miss…you can feel those from the outside). Or, if you’re lucky like me, they’ll swear it’s your appendix no matter how much you tell them differently (i.e. no raised white cell count, no fever…) and they take out your perfectly healthy appendix…and THEN discover “oh, lookie here, a ruptured cyst…let’s suck that stuff out too while we’re in here…”:rolleyes: And then they put you on bcp’s…to give your ovaries “a break for a while” – BCPs for cysts are mere bandaids. They help, but they don’t heal; and their side effects (risk of stroke, blod clots, etc, not to MENTION the moody, irritable, bloated parts) are far less appealing when you’re actually not in need of, nor do you believe in, their existance. No one is saying the doc doesn’t know what he/she is doing, we’re simply saying that there are better, less immoral ways of doing the same thing, it’s just that bcps are the easiest thing to “ward them off” – until you stop taking them, or decide you now want to get pregnant and have to deal with all the other cr&p that goes along with coming off bcps…the worst thing that’s going to happen if she comes off the pills is that she’ll have more cysts that rupture and cause her pain…compared to making her womb inhospitable to human life she might conceive while taking these pills…well, she asked for advice, and from those of us who have been thru the same thing she’s going thru, we all agree. Personally, I’d rather go with what those who’ve actually been thru it have to say as opposed to “just trust the doctor…they know what they’re doing”

There are very few “Dr Hilgers” out there…most are interested only in fixing your problem, not the root cause of that problem.

No argument. Too blindly trust doctors isn’t necessarily smart either, thats why you self-educate and get 2nd and 3rd opinions.

So…couldn’t this thread count as part of the “self-education” process?:wink:

I personally can’t believe they aren’t more Dr. Hilgers out there. I live in Nebraska (45 minutes from Dr. Hilgers office). My wife is currently seeing him and we are expecting our first baby together in April. Dr. Hilgers has a waiting list a mile long and sees patients from all over the world. In fact the other day my wife was sitting the waiting room and one of her college friends from Steubenville walk in the office. She is now currently living in Canada but comes to Omaha just to see Dr. Hilgers.
Dr. Hilgers is currently training another doctor who is a women so that they can see more patients. If I was a Catholic doctor who not only wanted to live his or her faith but also make a very good living at the same time I would do exactly what Dr. Hilgers is doing, or at least have a Catholic practice that won’t prescribe the pill. In the diocese that I live in we have a Catholic Physicians Guild. This is a group of Catholic doctors who are mainly general practioners who have a Catholic practice and follow the magesterium of the Catholic Church. They are also very busy and quite wealthy. Can you imagine how busy a Catholic doctor would be in Chicago, Boston, Los Angels etc.

I believe there are more like him, but they are hard to find, and often themselves have problems with their employers, when they try to mention their beliefs publically. The medical profession in general tends to be pretty liberal on matters of sexuality and on issues of life, and tries to hush up doctors who do not fit into that view.

Unfortunately, groups like the Catholic Medical Association only have their presence in a handful of states. I personally have never lived within a reasonable distance of any listed catholic doctor who also takes my health insurance. Where I live, the only way to find a Catholic Dr. of any stripe is by word of mouth.

Dr. Hilgers does train other doctors around the world/country. If anyone is looking for one close to them you can go to the Pope Paul VI website and contact a FertitliyCare Center in your area that “Features Naprotechnology” and they can give you the name of a doctor. All of the FertilityCare Centers have the list of doc’s trained as Medical Consultants that work with Naprotechnology.

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