As a result of complications after giving birth to my third child, it would be very dangerous, possibly deadly to give birth again. I know the Church’s teaching on birth control so does this mean the only way to avoid this danger is to no longer be intimate with my husband? Also, if procreation is the only purpose served by this act then is it also a sin for men and women who are naturally unable to reproduce to be with their spouses? Last question, is birth control also condemned as a treatment for women suffering from PMDD?

Your only moral options are to abstain completely (which is understandably not appealing) or to abstain periodically, which is also known as NFP (natural family planning). There are very conservative approaches to NFP which essentially negate the risk of pregnancy while still allowing some marital intimacy.

Spousal union is also a legitimate purpose of sex. You don’t need to be “trying for a child” every time you have sex.

The important distinction that the Church makes (which people may or may not accept) is that you don’t actively seek to remove the procreative possibility. So, having sex while you are not fertile does nothing to work against God’s natural plans for sex. That’s why NFP is acceptable and why couples who are generally infertile/sterile are still free to marry and have sex.

It depends on what exactly you mean. If you mean whether it is acceptable for someone to take hormonal treatments that happen to have contraceptive side effects, that is allowable. So, someone can take the Pill to treat a legitimate medical condition.

But if the Pill is taken specifically for the contraceptive effect, it is not allowed, such as trying to avoid pregancy because certain drugs you are taking are known to cause birth defects.

I hope that helps?

Thanks underacloud! Very helpful.

Merely thinking that becoming pregnant is a “risk” that one can “negate” makes NFP no better than condoms, pills, or IUDs. To make NFP in keeping with Church teaching, one’s heart must always be open to the eventuality of pregnancy if it is Gods will…after all, the P in NFP is for Planning not Pervention!

That’s not true at all. Recourse to the infertile phase (if you object to the term NFP here) is perfectly acceptable for any couple wishing to avoid pregnancy, either at that time or indefinitely, assuming serious reasons exist.

It is better than condoms, pills, etc in that it is a licit means of avoiding pregnancy, while the others are not, regardless of the circumstnces or intentions.

This is all discussed in Humanae Vitae, so anyone can read it there for themselves.

That is a decision for you and your husband to make regarding the frequency of intimacy. You can use natural family planning for periodic continence, or you can choose total continence.

The marital act is both unitive and procreative, objectively. Neither of these nuptial meanings can be separated from the other. It is not correct to say it is “only” procreative or “only” unitive. It is both.


Please make sure you are accurate in your terms. If one is taking a medication for a diseased state of the body, one is not “taking birth control”. Contraception is always wrong.

Taking a medication for a real disease of the body (as opposed to something like taking the pill for acne or convenience) that has the **unintended **side effect of temporary or permanent sterility is not contraception-- if one meets ALL of the criteria under the Principle of Double Effect. Under the PDE one must also consider proportionality-- is the problem grave enough to tolerate the contraceptive effect (and with “the pill” possibly abortifacient effect) and has one exhausted other treatment options?

Its not wrong at all, if the possibility of pregnancy is not wholeheartedly welcome as God’s will, at any time. Period.

To be clear, I was not objecting to this point, but your initial comment:

It is true that a Catholic couple practising NFP will need to be open to welcoming any pregancy that does occur. But…they can use NFP with the direct and clear intention of avoiding such pregnancies, to the point that they are almost completely negated as a possibility (very conservative NFP use). Such would not be sinful at all, if serious reasons exist.

The use of NFP rather than condoms or the pill, etc, is objectively moral. The use of contraception is objectively immoral. To say that NFP is no better than contraception is to ignore clear Church teaching.

But regarding your point about welcoming a pregancy if it occurs, I agree.

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