Ethics of Infertility


#1

If a woman does not ovulate because of an endocrine disorder and would therefore require drugs/medication in order to conceive (I don’t mean IVF, just ovulation-inducing drugs or some similar treatment that they give), would it be wrong for the couple to prevent pregnancy by not taking this treatment, and so use not receiving the treatment as a form of birth control, a kind of reverse NFP? Also, what if this situation is pre-planned? As in, the couple knows ahead of time, like, before marriage, and they plan to do the above in order to delay children once married? Would that be wrong also, would it make it wrong? Basically, is taking advantage of infertility for a time (not indefinitely, of course) a sinful form of birth control / child spacing, and furthermore how does pre-meditation affect the morals of the issue? Thanks! Hopefully this thread will get an answer (I tend to be a thread-killer… :confused: )


#2

I suffer from an endocrine disorder and unexplained infertility. I am not a moral theologian, though I am a practicing, faithful Catholic with a bachelor's degree in theology. That said...

The Church does not mandate that married couples struggling with infertility pursue every possible treatment option so that they might be pregnant. Not taking a drug that **may **cause you to ovulate and **may **increase your chances of conception is not a sin (and really, treating infertility, particularly when it is the result of an endocrine disorder, is not as simple as taking a pill to stimulate ovulation.)

You're not "using the infertility as a form of birth control"; the infertility is preventing you from conceiving. You and your husband are not doing anything to 'artificially' frustrate the procreative meaning of sex. And unless you are using some other additional form of birth control, there is nothing preventing you from ovulating month-to-month, besides your own body. And there would be nothing preventing you from conceiving if you were to ovulate. I have a friend who has very irregular cycles and who rarely ovulates, and the one month that she did ovulate and she and her husband used fertile days, she conceived.

It seems that your rather specific question about your particular medical condition is related to a bigger question, though, of appropriate reasons for avoiding pregnancy within marriage. There are plenty of threads on that topic here on CAF, as different couples in different circumstances grapple with whether or not their reasons are "serious enough" to avoid pregnancy. Ultimately, no one here can tell you if your reasons fit the bill--which is why an integral part of marriage, particularly in a marriage where the couple is using NFP, is discernment.

If you are really concerned about this issue, you might want to take it over to moral theology. As it stands, I can see no reason why this would be a sinful situation.

My final piece of advice would be to learn NFP and to start charting, if you haven't already. NFP charts can provide a wealth of information to physicians who know what to look for, and can also help you detect if ovulation ever occurs. I use the Creighton Model, and highly recommend it, particularly because when coupled with NaProTechnology my doctor can do a lot to address my endocrine issues on several fronts. Also, there are many ways to naturally address endocrine disorders and restore hormone balance, starting with diet and exercise and moving right on through environmental concerns and living habits. There's a lot you can do to help your situation so that you might be able to naturally conceive in the future (or at least to have regular cycles without as many of the nasty side effects that hormone imbalance causes!).


#3

[quote="Cradle, post:1, topic:192507"]
If a woman does not ovulate because of an endocrine disorder and would therefore require drugs/medication in order to conceive (I don't mean IVF, just ovulation-inducing drugs or some similar treatment that they give), would it be wrong for the couple to prevent pregnancy by not taking this treatment, and so use not receiving the treatment as a form of birth control, a kind of reverse NFP? Also, what if this situation is pre-planned? As in, the couple knows ahead of time, like, before marriage, and they plan to do the above in order to delay children once married? Would that be wrong also, would it make it wrong? Basically, is taking advantage of infertility for a time (not indefinitely, of course) a sinful form of birth control / child spacing, and furthermore how does pre-meditation affect the morals of the issue? Thanks! Hopefully this thread will get an answer (I tend to be a thread-killer... :/ )

[/quote]

No, in everything I read about this subject (which is quite a lot), you're not required to undergo any treatment to become fertile.

Choosing not to treat infertility is not a form of contraception.

What do you mean the situation is pre-planned? The only way it could be pre-planned is if you deliberately messed up your health as a method of birth control. This would be wrong. But it doesn't sound like this is what you did.


#4

Thank you both. I guess that does sort of make sense… I can’t shake off the feeling that we would be using the infertility in a sinful way, but what you’re saying does make sense. Gotta let go of that feeling, I guess. And yes, there is also the issue of the reasons for delaying children… so, if we discern and discuss with a priest whether our reasons would be good or not, and turns out they are valid, there is no problem. If the reasons turn out to not be valid, would that change the morality of not receiving treatments for the infertility? Haha, as for the last thing, no I haven’t messed up my health on purpose or anything like that. That would be both stupid and wrong… o.O What I mean by pre-planned/pre-meditated is that this infertility/delaying of children issue is being considered before marriage, in plans of when to get married / what will happen once we are married. As for charting/NFP/Creighton model… that would be helpful, yes, and I do keep track of periods, but actual charting seems to me too early; NFP is not applicable at this time; and the Creighton model, though it would be useful with the NaPro stuff, is also too early for me, especially considering the price. The eating well and doing exercise is something I should be doing even now, though… oops :stuck_out_tongue: This issue of infertility and its use/abuse came up as we were discussing options, and it was weighing heavily on my mind.


#5

From Humanae Vitae:

  1. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, "noble and worthy.'' (11) It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws.

#6

I guess the only major issue IMHO that I could see is that if the Holy Spirit were to provide you with an unforeseen gift and you were not open to life at that point. However, this does not seem like the case.


#7

You are not required to take fertility meds as a couple with infertility. You are called to be open to life, however. I’d caution you against assuming you will never ovulate on your own, though. I’ve heard many stories of women ovulating out of the blue and conceiving–so I would caution you to use a reliable form of NFP if you and your DH have a good reason to postpone or avoid pregnancy in the event that do become more fertile at a random time. As far as using your infertility as a means of birth control–it’s not. Birth control is something you do to your body to make it infertile. Unless you’re doing something to purposely mess up your body, your infertility is no more birth control than menopause is.

I have infertility too although we were blessed with our daughter after using medication. Sometimes I joke with DH that we were given a different sacrifice than other couples as far as self control and NFP go. A lot of fertile couples that I’ve seen experience some frustration with abstinence using NFP to avoid–and they really have to abstain during all the fertile days are they will probably end of pregnant. We can do everything under the sun to try to get pregnant for months and not get pregnant. There’s a lot of frustration and anxiety dealing with infertility–and that is our cross. But when we eventually decide to avoid and use NFP to do so, I think our easier time will come–I honestly don’t think I’m likely to have a “surprise” baby and so will probably have to follow less strict rules of NFP than some couples.

So I guess what I’m saying in this long post is that God gives both infertile and fertile couples opportunities for grace–whether it is patience in trying to conceive or self control when you have a good reason for NFP.

KG


#8

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