Contraception while Married?


If a Catholic couple uses contraception while married is their marriage made invalid?


Short answer: no.


No, but it is a mortal sin.


Contraception is grave matter, but doesn’t create an impediment to valid marriage per se.

What does create an impediment is a permanent intention against children, which contraception could be evidence of.


If they did so the entire time of marriage (including their wedding night), yes it would be invalid.

I have prepared three annulment cases for exactly that reason.

Deacon Christopher


No but it means they are in a state of mortal sin.


Please correct me if I am wrong Deacon Christopher, but it it not a matter of what they intended to do at the time of their wedding? Intend not to have children = invalid. I can’t see how behaviour afterwards affects this. So in the hypothetical case of a couple who intended not to have children at the point of the marriage but later decided to have twelve, would they not still be in an invalid marriage?


It is best to discuss this with your priest, who you trust and knows you.

There are many aspects and scenarios here, which may or may not apply to your situation. The question is quite open ended, and doesn’t supply much information.


A defective intention against the possibility of children (canon 1101) can be proven by the use of contraception antecedent to, and concurrent through the entire marriage, this is what @1ke mentioned above.

Marriages can also be invalid by the existence of an impediment, as well.

The priest or deacon who does the prenuptial interview asks specific questions about intention to each of the parties (separately) before the wedding: Do you intend marriage until death? Do you intend life-long fidelity to your spouse? Do you intend to grant to your spouse normal natural marriage relations and the right to children?

Obviously someone who does not intend to even be open to the possibility of having children has deceived the minister (and possibly, their future spouse) by answering falsely.

Your hypothetical question might be difficult to prove - the parties may simply say they weren’t sure about having children / were nervous / scared, but their concerns were mitigated during their marriage and now have children. Most people would have a hard time saying, “I lied right to the priest’s face when I answered that question, and I lied when I signed the form that said all my answers were truthful.”

If @VirginiaCatholic is simply asking if using contraception at some point in the marriage, that, of course, doesn’t invalidate the marriage.


Don’t women take the pill for medical reasons as well? Is it still a sin in that case?


Some do, yes.

No. It is not a sin to take hormones to treat a condition even if those hormones make you temporarily or permanently sterile.


If they use contraception so as to never have kids and this was their understanding going into the marriage my understanding is that it’s not valid.


Please don’t mix sugar and salt. Taking pills as contraceptives and taking pills as therapy are two different things. The OP is sensitive enough. Don’t draw the argument to a different direction.

@OP. I think the response of rev. Christopher hits it. If all through the marriage contraceptives are used, it invalidates it because of lack of openness to life. If however it is not consistent, it might not invalidate it, but it always remains a grave sin. With or without contraceptives, an interior lack of openness to life can very easily invalidate a marriage (I use conditional here because it is a question that is evaluated case by case)
God bless you.


No. It’s like any other sin in marriage. It’s a sin against chastity. We are called to chastity and temperance, which is tough. It is reasonable to learn NFP and recognize the temptation to sin during fertile times. Sometimes having sex is gravely sinful because of the harm a pregnancy could be harmful to the wife’s health. It would be a grave sin to use. Sometimes it’s just imprudent and requires some deliberate moral discernment. Sometimes the desire to prevent pregnancy is selfish, and you will feel that with the strain of prolonged abstinence and how it effects your marriage.

NFP allows you some insights into what’s going on with the woman’s fertility. I will warn you most Catholic teaching organizations do not understand the priniciples of responsible parenthood and deny that sex can ever be sinful in marriage (as if gravity isn’t related to sinfulness. Yeesh people!). Because they see it as a moral concession, they treat NFP as a contraception and tend to teach only the most conservative rules with it. They also do this because a lot of people are so used to contraception, the idea of compromising effectiveness remotely scares them. But if you practice NFP that strictly, it’ll bite you in the butt.

NFP is like horseback riding whereas contraception is like an automobile. You’re not going to get there as fast, and women’s cycles are like horses. The quality of your horse is like the quality of a woman’s cycle. It’s not all the same and sometimes the horse will be recovering from giving birth and all that. A healthy regular cycle is what you want to cultivate for NFP to work well. Otherwise, it’s lots of taking it slow and using abstinence.

I’d recommend using google scholar to look up articles. And recognize you’re human. Sexual sin will probably still sneak up on you during fertile periods. If you’re going through a situation where using your fertile time is sinful, don’t convince yourself it’s not to avoid a sin against chastity. That’s rooted in pride which is worse than lust. Rely on the sacrament of confession for the graces to help you.


It does not invalidate it; BUT you’re living in a gravely sinful relationship nevertheless



The intention to prevent children is not the sin. If it were, abstinence would be sinful. Contraception is a sin against chastity. It’s sinful for the same reason masturbation is.

The principles of responsible parenthood actually teach us that couples may have a grave moral reason to prevent pregnancy. In which case, having sex knowing you have a high liklihood of getting pregnant (during the fertile window) can be a mortal sin as well.

Humanae Vitae’s teachings are different than Casti Canubii’s because even the Rhythm Method did not exist. The Pope said for grave reasons couples would need to practice COMPLETE abstinence. He specified grave reasons because he was talking about complete abstinence.

Whereas Humanae Vitae says

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

The mistake is to presume that “prudently” and “generously” is simply a compliment to those who have large families. Rather, he is stating that having a large family should be rooted in the principle of prudence and generosity. You’re not automatically prudent. You have to morally discern it.


The Church never presumes someone’s marriage is invalid because they contracepted on their wedding night. It might be held as evidence that they did not consent to lovingly accept children from God to grant an annullment. But there’s no process in place to convalidate a marriage if contraception is used on the wedding night. That is ridiculous!


It could, under the conditions I showed above. And has, for a matter of fact.

People are conflating the [at least three] different discussions going on in this thread:

  1. A question about contraception use during marriage yielding their union invalid. The answer is NO.

  2. A canonical discussion about the possibility of a marriage being invalid when a couple contracepted before, and during the entire marriage, never being open to the possibility of the transmission of human life. The answer is YES, a Tribunal can (and has multiple times) found the union invalid for defective intention.

  3. A discussion of the sinfulness of contraception specifically and Humane Vitae in general.

Again, the answer to the original poster is NO. The side-bar discussion over whether a similar case could be is YES.

People are getting confused (and confusing others) by mixing parts of 1, 2, & 3 above in their opinions and statements.

The Law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul,
Deacon Christopher


We should strive to keep our answers simple. Granted, I’m guilty of this too. But the original poster seemed only interested in whether contraception could invalidate a marriage. Your answer is that it could be EVIDENCE of a lack of matrimonial consent. That wasn’t the question though.


I didn’t say preventing children is a sin or the intention to prevent children is a sin.

I said a permanent intention against children creates an impediment to a valid marriage (for those not yet married).

It results in a defect of intention (if someone had that permanent intention against children at the time they married).

I further stated contraception might be evidence of such in a tribunal proceeding.

Your comments are true as far as they go. They just aren’t addressing the question the OP asked, which was about validity of marriage.

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