IUD/Pill/Partial Hysterectomy

Hello all,

I was having a discussion with a non-Catholic friend of mine a little while ago. Years ago I had explained to her why using a hormonal IUD or the pill for medical reasons was allowed but only if the user was not sexually active, as it could result in fertilization but would not allow the baby to implant. She understood that and life went on.

Recently, we were discussing some problems I was having and I mentioned that partial hysterectomy (where they remove the uterus but not the ovaries) was on the table as one of the options. I know that it is allowed (for medical purposes of course) and there seems to be no discussion of not allowing intercourse afterwards. She pointed out, though, that while ridiculously unlikely, it is possible for fertilization to occur after a partial hysterectomy, and those fertilized eggs usually end up not being able to implant, or if they do often they result in an ectopic pregnancy. Only in exceedingly rare cases can the baby implant on the abdominal wall and develop (later to be delivered by C-section). She then asked what the difference was between that and a hormonal IUD or the pill and I had no answer for her.

My husband and I practice NFP so we know the ins and outs of cervical fluid, and it occured to me that without a cervix, there would be no cervical fluid and without that sperm are basically useless. So that seemed to be a possible explanation, but it is still technically possible for fertilization to occur so I’m kind of stumped. Anyone with a better explanation (both for my sake and for hers)?

Well firstly one of your premises is wrong. There is no obligation from the Church for a woman receiving medical treatment (including the Pill for non-contraceptive purposes) to abstain from sex, even if the treatment may increase the risk of unintended miscarriage (ie has some abortifacient potential). Note that any miscarriage/abortion is unintended here. Only intended abortions are sinful. Natural/sponteneous abortions are not sinful in themselves. Risk of miscarriage is a natrual part of procreation.

Now some theologians argue that such an obligation to abstain exists. Others argue that it does not. The Church herself certainly does not require abstinence in such a case. A woman who has had a medical hysterectomy has no obligation to abstain, in the same way in my firm opinion (having weighed arguments from either side) that a woman on the Pill for medical reasons may still engage in marital sex.

This issue has been debated here a lot, so you should try the search function and read some of those threads, and especially anything in the Ask an Apologist section.

I might be wrong with my anatomy knowledge but doesn’t the sperm travel through the uterus before getting to the fallopian tubes? If this is the case, with the uterus gone, there is no avenue for the sperm to reach the egg. Just my thought.

Sorry but I am in the middle of picking my jaw up off the floor. How on earth did I miss that?? I guess so many people have said it just “matter of factly” that if abortifacient properties existed in it then it couldn’t be used and that was the official stance that I believed it. I feel so ridiculous. I have a theology degree. I wish there was a “face-palm” smily.

As a teenager I was on the pill to help with my issues but I stopped taking them on the pretext that I could never make love to my husband if I was on them. Since I got married I spend at least a day every cycle almost in tears the pain is so bad.

Thank you so much.

I would contact the National Catholic Bioethics Center for clarifications:



No problem, glad to help.

Of course, you should not just take my word for it, and it’s possible that other posters will vehemently disagree with me, as often happens in such threads.

Here is one post that may help explain this issue further:forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=4618

It really is not possible to conceive after your uterus is removed. The cervix is either removed and a cuff is formed and sewed shut, or your cervix is still in place and sewed shut. Either way, the previous poster is correct, the sperm would have to penetrate the cuff and swim its way through your abdominal cavity, find the cauterized ends of your Fallopian tubes, and work their way in. Not going to happen. :slight_smile: I had a hysterectomy in April this year, though, and if I understand your last post, and you are able to take birth control instead, definitely look into that first. The surgery is not easy. :wink:

Eh, what’s done is done. If our suffering can be united to that of Christ’s on the Cross, imagine how beautiful your gift to the Church Suffering. :smiley:

I believe there would be no requirement of abstenence in this case.

As far as getting pregnant: That would be so exceedingly rare that one can easily say that it is impossible. In the normal state the sperm has to enter the uterus (which would not be gone) and from there travel to the fallopian tubes. Then the fertilized egg has to make it’s way back to the uterus to implant.

Implantation outside of the uterus is very rare and in the cases I am aware of, almost included some sort of trauma that allowed the ovaries to expel more than one egg about the same time that fertilization occurred. (There was a case during the Civil War in which a soldier was shot in his testicles and the bullet went through the ovaries of a nearby nurse. She became pregnant.) In one case the husband and wife had relations just prior to her hysterectomy and an egg was fertilized. Of course no one knew this.

Weeks later she had symptoms of pregnancy(after her hysterectomy) and it was discovered that she was pregnant but that the egg had implanted in her intestinal wall. This is very dangerous, and very unlikely to end with a live birth. In her case the child did develop safely but her pregnancy was considered exceptionally rare and the delivery was by C-section.

I would call this a miracle. It is not something I would worry about at all. So external implantation could occur under some rather extreme circumstances, but it is so rare that it is just not a worry.

Some assert that some contraceptive pills have potentially abortifacient properties. But the mechanisms at work do not seem to actually produce this effect, at least not anything that could be distinguished from normal miscarriages, insofar as miscarriages are an unfortunate fact of life. Even if this was not so, many common medications have this unfortunate side effect as well, for example all those that tell you to consult a doctor before taking it while pregnant or TTC.

Do you mean like this?

HAH! Evidently my smiley research skills rival only my “thoroughly researching theological debate when not to do so results in debilitating pain” skills.

Or you could have asked the priest in Confession. But now you know.

I know this is an old post, but to the people saying contraception is justified in a sexually active marriage if it is being used for medical purposes. No, that is not true. I hope I am reading that former assessment correctly, because I felt compelled to post an answer to correct the falsehood. I would hate for someone to read this and believe the practice is justified in marriage if for medical reasons, if spouses are sexually active. In addition, apart from theological concerns, IUDs and the “pill” have the ability to be abortifacient because if conception occurs, (if thickening cervical mucus --to prevent uniting of sperm and egg and preventing ovulation fail) their third acting mechanism is to prevent an embryo from implanting. The Progestin component causes the uterine lining to be inhospitable, thus rejecting the newly formed human.

“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of
contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally
rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable.”
–Vademecum for Confessors 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997

“Every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil…Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means . . . for example, direct sterilization or contraception”
–Catechism of the Catholic Church (Part III, Section II, Chapter II, Article VI)

While the Church may not explicitly REQUIRE ABSTINENCE, she certainly DOES NOT justify contraception but calls it always and everywhere “an intrinsic evil.” Does not matter if the “justification” is medical. When contraception is being used while sexual active, the CHURCH says it is sinful for both the man and woman. Particular theological opinions have no bearing on Tradition and believe it or not, forms of contraception have been around since the time of Jesus, it is just easier than it ever was in today’s society to use contraception with chemical advances.


I just saw this… I do not understand it because I listened to Catholic Answers for 6 years and it was never explained that way on the show. I thought. My whole world has been turned upside down. I’ll be researching. Thanks!

I’m not going to vehemently disagree. But I will add that while the church would not require abstinence a couple could dicern it or use nfp to make sure there was no possibility of the destruction of a human life.

Reading this makes me question the merits of a partial, as opposed to a full, hysterectomy. The partial hysterectomy (as described above) seems to create highly risky circumstances for the woman as well as any potential child.

You appear to confuse the ‘moral act’ of contraception that the Church speaks of (as an evil) which the use of a drug for another purpose, but with the unintended side-effect of impeding procreation. They are different (moral) acts, even if appearing physically to be the same.

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