Contraceptives for "medical" purposes

I know we are strictly against birth control and follow NFP. But what about using contraceptives for menstruative disorders such as mynorrheas and such? If a woman has menses disorders is she allow to take birth control for corrective regulative reasons? I’ve never heard where the church stands on this.


Yes, this is permitted. Birth control pills are just conveniently packaged hormonal drug treatments (estrogen and progesterone primarily). These hormonal treatments are used for many purposes such as treatment for the conditions you mention. The Church has no objection to a person taking hormonal drugs to treat a medical condition even if those drugs are packaged and marketed as “birth control” pills.

From Humanae Vitae, 1968.

"Lawful Therapeutic Means

“15. 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)”

There are alternatives to The Pill depending on the condition. I mention this because I know others will read this.


How about for prevention of an ectopic pregnancy?

If a woman has had one ectopic pregnancy, she is predisposed toward another one. This condition is serious and potentially life-threatening. Barrier methods, like condom or diaphragm, are the practices most physicians recommend.

I believe that this would be a case where the strict practice and observance of abstinence during fertile periods (as made known through NFP, for example) would be vital. Because an ectopic pregnancy is still a pregnancy, and life is conceived, the purpose behind the use of such methods is contraceptive in nature and thus sinful. The fact that it is the most recommended method by doctors is irrelevant. Church teaching on this issue is clear: though it may be an incredibly difficult and painful cross to bear, the couple in your example may not resort to artificial birth control. If periodic abstinence is too risky, the couple would probably have to embrace total abstinence. Artificial contraception is illicit and immoral no matter what.

Seriously?! Wow, I guess I would need to call myself a “cafeteria Catholic”!
I’ve been through two ectopic pregnancies. The first one, I almost died. The second one, not practicing ABC. Now, I’m too old, thanks be to God!

And, I would advise anyone who was in that sitch and asked me, in the same way.

Here is a good explanation from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:


I agree 100%. But would the church not marry them? Because they are not open to children?

You know, I think the church might have a case if they actually knew what an ectopic pregnancy is. The fetus/baby gets caught in the Fallopian tube on the way to the uterus. It’s not going to get to the uterus. It’s already either dead or dying. Does it really make sense to let the mother die along with the baby?

Please see the link in my post, # 8.


That’s not necessarily true. When there is a serious health issue that makes the couple need to avoid pregnancy altogether, there is a presumption that IF the health condition was resolved they would welcome children lovingly from God.

If anyone is still interested:

I am taking a history of the Church course at my church. It is from Ignatius Press, is twenty weeks long and is entitled Epic. In the first lesson, I learned a little about the Didache, which was written in 400 AD. According to the catechist, part of the Didache addresses and is the first known written law regarding contraception. It was considered for inclusion in the Bible. It was not chosen.

If the first written law re contraception was written in 400 AD, I would think it would beg the question: was anything known about ectopic pregnancies? Probably not. Women probably died of it, as a matter of course. What if they had known about ectopic pregnancies? What would have been said in the Didache? Would it have made ectopic pregnancies an exception?

We know the law. I, myself, think God would allow a barrier type of contraception. That type would not kill a fetus. It would prevent sperm from meeting the egg. I like to think of God as a benevolent, merciful God. Of course, He is a just God, as well.

Bottom line: IMHO, we know the Law. Now, let’s use common sense.

I don’t know but don’t underestimate the medical knowledge of the ancients. You have to be able to read it but they were fairly advanced in some ways. I thought the Didache was before the Biblical scriptures.


Wow and I was thinking of simple hormonal related problems like menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea. I’m not sure what the church would say about “barrier methods”.


According to a medical book, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility (found citation on, ectopic pregnancy was first “found” in the 11th century. Before that, and for centuries after, it was often a fatal complication of pregnancy. The first known surgical procedure was performed in the 18th century. It has only been in the last 25 years that procedures have been perfected.

(Everything you always didn’t want to know about ectopic pregnancies!)


The thing is you have to watch terms too. Time changes things. What about Edema and what they know now? Well they new a lot about it in older times, they just called it “dropsy”. And they described “tumors” and growths of different kinds that were cancerous.


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