Outsider question on fertility


I hope I am posting in the correct area! I’m new here.

I understand the the Catholic position on artificial birth control but I am unclear on using artificial hormones for fertility treatment. Is this permitted and, if yes, why? If no, then I at least see consistency. I do understand that most infertile Catholics try natural methods first but was unable to determine if hormone enhancement is ever used. I also understand the position of rejecting IVF.

Thank you for any answers! I worked with 2 different women that struggled with infertility and it was heartbreaking. One was Catholic, the other Evangelical Protestant and neither would consider IVF but I would never dared to ask what they were trying! Which lead me to wonder what the Catholic position to hormonal therapy was.


Medicines to restore function are permitted.


One may have medical treatments that correct a defect or treat a disease. There is no church teaching against medicine.

You must have a misunderstanding somewhere if you do. Perhaps stuck on the word “artificial”? Becuase artificial has nothing to do with why contraception is wrong nor is something prohibited based on being “artificial”.


From http://www.catholicinfertility.org/guidelines.html

Reproductive Technologies in Agreement with Catholic Teachings:

  1. Observation of the naturally occuring sign(s) of fertility (Natural Family Planning). Time intercourse on the days of presumed (potential) fertility for at least six months before proceeding to medical interventions.
  2. General medical evaluation of both spouses for infertility.
  3. Post-coital test to assess sperm count and viability. These tests are undertaken after normal intercourse.
  4. Appropriate evaluation and treatment of male factor deficiency. Seminal fluid samples can be obtained from a non-lubricated, perforated condom after normal intercourse.
  5. Assessment of uterine and tubal structural competence by imaging techniques (e.g., ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram, etc.).
  6. Appropriate medical treatment of ovulatory and hormonal dysfunction.
  7. Appropriate (usually surgical) correction of organic problems underlying male or female infertility.

I don’t know much about the source website, so maybe others can either back up or refute the above.


I think things like clomid are permitted.

I was reading about the potential treatment of having a piece of ovarian tissue removed and frozen before something like chemo, then reimplanted and the woman being gjven hormone therapy to make it produce eggs again, would this potentially be permitted?


Perhaps I am confused and welcome correction!
My understanding is that any attempt to prevent natural conception from occurring is prohibited (barring medically necessary reasons). Even though the common BC prevents ovulation it is still prohibited as it is interfering with the potential for conception. Is this correct?

The use of hormone stimulation to produce eggs that would otherwise not mature IS permitted? I don’t want to sound disrespectful and apologize if this question crosses a line…

You cannot block a mature egg from being impregnated but you can force an egg to mature that otherwise would not. The first seems to depend on Gods will and the second on man’s will overriding Him. How am I seeing this incorrectly?

Note: I don’t have an issue with surgical corrections such as blocked Fallopian tubes being corrected. It is the paradox of refusing to interfere with a mature egg being implanted vs. forcing an unviable egg to become viable

For the record, make sure that anytime you need to have sperm counts and motility analyzed you go to a lab very experienced in the procedure. I’m a retired Medical Technologist and have performed many sperm analysis. Catholics always present a challenge due to being unable to collect a specimen in the “usual” way (though some got permission from their Priests for this single exception) as a condom with holes is not an ideal specimen and can vastly cause undercounts of viable and motile sperm! Hope that isn’t too much information :grinning:.


I’m not a theologian, but my two cents is that it would be permitted because the process would not involve a disruption of the sexual act leading to conception. They’re not planning to create embryos in a lab or anything.

I’m pretty certain that a gonadal transplant into another person is illicit.


Medicine that causes sterility is permitted so long as the sterility is accidental and not the intended medical purpose of the drug. So, even drug pills commonly used as BC can be allowed if the reason they are being taken has some other legitimate and valid medical purpose besides contraception.

Note that using it to prevent pregnancy because a doctor has advised against getting pregnant again would not be a valid reason there, for while it is a medical recommendation the intended purpose is to contracept as part of the treatment, even so.


If a woman has Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or Endometriosis, there are some doctors that can treat these without the birth control pill. The website, One More Soul will have a list of some of these doctors, and the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha (Dr. Hilgers is there) will be able to provide input as well.

Wesrock is correct about use of the birth control pill for medical reasons.

Some women have had successful surgery for endometriosis, and sometimes other medical problems such as ovarian cysts can be found via further evaluation. Women of childbearing age (I’m talking married women between 22 and 40) that are prone to irregular cycles (I say this because I’ve heard too many stories of 14 year old girls going on the birth control pill for irregular cycles, when at that age their cycle is still fairly new) may benefit from visiting a physician affiliated with One More Soul or Paul VI Institute who doesn’t prescribe birth control pills. The Couple to Couple League may also have some information.

For what it’s worth, I read Chesley Sullenberger’s book not long ago (the guy who landed the Airbus in the Hudson River) - he has a good chapter about he and his wife struggling with childbearing, and how adoption was a blessing. I do have friends who adopted children.


Yes and no. Each act of intercourse must be per se ordered to procreation. That means if you engage in the marital act, it must be a completed act of intercourse. You do not alter the act. You can make the choice not to engage in the marital embrace, if you have a reason to avoid conception. Your choice is whether or not you engage in the act.

Correcting a defect is permitted, yes. Unblocking a Fallopian tube, taking hormones to assist in ovulation, yes these things are permitted.

Conception must take place through the marital act, a human act of husband and wife.

In the first case, there is no defect. The natural end of intercourse is procreation. You can choose to engage in the marital act or refrain from it depending on the desire to conceive or avoid.

In the second case, you are correcting a defect through medical means.

It is a misunderstanding of the concept of God’s will to believe that everything that happens is directly “God’s will” and we can take no actions— If your house burns down, are you not supposed to put water on it to try to put it out? Is that God’s will? How far do you carry it? No this is not the means by which you determine the morality of an act. The morality of an act depends upon the three fonts of morality.


Far less complicated. Each marital act is to be ordered toward procreation.


I prefer the only moral way to avoid babies is not to have sex.

I think it summarizes the teaching well and in more understandable language.


“In the second case…”
Thank you, This is answering my question. I understand all the reasons for preventing contraception. My confusion was in using hormone therapy to stimulate maturing of eggs when they do not naturally do so. You don’t consider that as the normal functioning of the ovaries and so may correct it.

Just so you know, I was adopted (from a Catholic home for unwed mothers) in 1952. My adopted parents were Orthodox Jews and the only reason I was able to be placed with them was because one of my biological parents or grandparents were Jewish. I have no idea which! But it was a rule back then of the facility. So, I tend to be rather pro adoption myself and thank my birth mother for what was probably an incredibly hard decision. I had wonderful parents but the Judaism didn’t stick :smile:.

There are so many unadopted children that I wish more infertile couples would choose adoption and not spend the thousands of dollars on infertility treatments. I sympathize with the desire to have your own children. I, myself, had two but I see the amount of debt taken on and the stress involved and just shake my head in sorrow for children that need a home. Just my opinion from a happy adoptee.


As an aside, with Catholic moral theology, natural refers not to “as in nature” but to Natural Law. I’m bad at explaining exactly what Natural Law is, but it’s definitely distinct from “as in nature.”


Hormone treatment to mend a natural function would be permitted.
The objection is not to the nature of the medication but the use. The end of contraception is to frustrate a natural bodily function. But using hormones to repair a bodily function is ok.


A friend of mine and his wife adopted a child in the USA, who was a US citizen. Like many young children, this one ended up in the adoption system because the parents were not properly caring for their child, and my friend and his wife were serving as foster parents. They have big hearts, love this child very much, and wanted to help the child have a stable and good life.

Immediately after they filed for the adoption, they were sued by one of the bio-parents of the child and the suit has been ongoing. This is a very common occurrence. This is why people in USA do not go rushing to adopt children here, and instead will try to adopt them from foreign countries where there is less chance of a legal action interfering with the adoption. Unfortunately, there are problems with the foreign adoptions as well, in that they can be expensive, hard to arrange, and the child sometimes has physical or mental problems of which the prospective parents were not aware.


Congrats on being a Catholic Christian. There are so many tough issues here. As a Catholic, I believe there are some conditions that can be treated in a Catholic natural way and than there are conditions where these will not work but other treatments wouldn’t have worked as well (i.e. if you need a donor egg for example).

In general, the Catholic Church is against IVF because it doesn’t obey the natural marital process of creating a child. That said, there is also the potential that some embryos could be discarded or aborted (also called selective reduction). In some other cases, there would be the potential for eugenics or the preference of one embryo over another and/or the possibility that embryos would be discarded (or being used in research) for being the wrong gender or having a birth defect. The church has held open for prudential judgment and hopefully will never render an opinion on snowflake adoption (i.e. adopting an embryo that had been donated because it was an excess embryo that would otherwise die from being discarded, used in research, or thawed). Though probably not used in our situation (since we’d prefer traditional adoption), I don’t see anything wrong with a Catholic choosing snowflake adoption with the possible exception of encouraging IVF.

Traditional adoption has become very difficult. Some countries have closed their adoptions. Some countries continue to have orphanages whereas others have moved to foster-care models that can make adoption more difficult. In the USA, foster care adoptions can be problematic because the children are often older or most children that are available are ones with severe intellectual, physical, and/or emotional/psychiatric disabilities. The other alternative is to be a foster parent with the goal of reunification where you work towards the children being reunited with their birth parents and being available to adopt if that becomes necessary. And if a child has been in several foster homes, the children don’t have the stability that other children are able to benefit from.


To be clear, I am not a Catholic Christian or Christian at all. I’m an agnostic Jew which means I consider myself culturally Jewish but don’t believe in God or that I can know him…and yes, I’ve tried! Including Christianity

I wasn’t aware that adoption in the US has gotten so awful. I know that in my case the adoption was final from the moment my parents left the facility and that I had to be physically handed over by a blood relative to my adoptive parents. Also, all court records were sealed. The court sealing changed in the 80’s for anyone born before 1963 but by the 80’s I was no longer interested in finding my biological parents (something almost all adoptees go through).

Just curious if any of you know…how many adoptions get contested later? Is this now very frequent or very rare?


The statistics say that only a small percent, like single digit, of US adoptions get contested in court. However, this is misleading for a few reasons:

  • A lot of US adoptions, probably the majority, do not involve kids who are separated from any blood family and needing a home, but rather situations where the mom has remarried and the new stepdad is officially adopting her kids, or where a child is being adopted by a blood relative like grandparent or aunt because the parents are dead, in prison, struggling with addiction or mental illness, disappeared, etc. The blood relative often has to adopt the child in order to get welfare benefits or to keep the bioparent from taking the child when bioparent gets out of prison or whatever.
    If you only look at situations where a couple is trying to adopt a baby that was born to a total stranger, the percentage of contested adoptions goes up.

  • Many contested adoptions don’t make it to court because the adoptive parent doesn’t have the money to hire a lawyer and fight for the child, or doesn’t think that’s in the child’s best interest, or has been advised that they will likely lose, so they just let the child go back to the bioparent.

  • The contested adoptions disproportionately affect babies and very young children, who are also the ones that people who can’t have kids of their own are most likely to want to adopt.

  • The number of babies available for adoption has been on a steady decline for many years, as there is now very little or no stigma to being an unwed mother and the moms have an easier time nowadays getting public assistance for each baby.

  • Many of the children in the foster care system aren’t available for adoption for some reason.

  • Many of the children who are available are well past baby/ toddler age, have special needs (which could be anything from being mentally challenged to having a past record of violent behavior), need to be adopted along with other siblings, or in some cases their adoption is restricted to persons of the same racial background as them.

So when you hear about all these adoptable children, many of them simply aren’t that adoptable, or they aren’t going to be a good choice for a couple who are seeking a baby to raise as their own.

I knew another couple who out of Christian values had made a point of taking in and eventually adopting several kids. They had to send one back because he was violent and not a good fit for their family, which already included two kids. There is a lot of risk involved in the adoption process.


Thank you. That is very good information that I wasn’t aware of. Boy, have things changed since my adoption!

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