Sex for reproduction/pleasure


Peace be with you.
What is the Church’s stance of sex while a wife pregnant with child? My wife is pregnant and the doctors said it’s good. The scientific research says it is good for the health of the lady and baby. However, if this is true, then would this mean that there is an instance where it is permissible to have sex without the goal of procreation? Or would one say that the act supports procreation as it is healthy and strengthens the bonds of the parents? Thanks.



Congratulations on the pregnancy! Sex during pregnancy is perfectly moral and most couples have relations throughout much of pregnancy unless your doctor advises otherwise. As for your question about lack of procreation during pregnancy, it’s good to be clear about this.

The Church teaches that sex between married couples needs to have both a unitive and procreative aspect. Obviously during pregnancy, a woman won’t continue to get pregnant, but notice that the word the Church uses is “procreative” - an adjective describing the marital act. She doesn’t mean that “procreation” - a noun - will occur with each act of sex. So, a husband and wife need to carry out their relations in a procreative way…in other words, in a MANNER that would be open to life. This means that the man needs to finish within his wife, even while she is pregnant, because this is the “procreative” manner in which a child could be conceived, whether it happens or not. Make sense?

A couple’s fertility is not really relevant as to whether their relations are completed in a procreative manner. As an example, a senior couple well past menopause can still have unitive and procreative relations…as long as they finish the act in the proper way. That act is completed in the manner in which a child would be conceived, even though actual conception may not be possible. A lot of folks get confused with the meanings of “procreative” and “procreation.” There’s actually a significant difference in the meanings.




Sometimes, the phrasing “ordered to procreation” is used…so even if a couple is temporarily or permanently unable to conceive, they can still complete the act in the way that would be needed for conception to occur (as mwncheesehead said). People who are known to be infertile, whether naturally due to age or for other reasons, can still get married and engage in sexual relations. :slight_smile: The important thing is that you are able and willing to have sex in the way God intended it to be - that is all the Church requires.



Thank you both. Very clear, insightful and helpful. Happy Christmas!



I fail to understand this line of reasoning. A woman can’t get more “open to life” than by already being pregnant. So whether or not “A” finishes in “B” has absolutely no biological impact. This micro-management of marital relations is ill-conceived.



While others have already answered your question, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. A used copy can be had for about $4 on Amazon and it explains in detail the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Merry Christmas!




It’s not all about biology, Mulligan. It’s a simple principle: for each and every marital act to be “procreative,” A finishes in B. Pregnancy doesn’t change that principle. No need to whine about micro management of sex…that’s your ill-conceived and mistaken opinion of the Church.



I couldn’t have come up with a better use of words…



That reminds me of people who say ‘why do we need algebra these days? We have computers and calculators to rely on.’ They forget that everything… technology and all the ‘structures’ of our society, depend on basic algerbraic equations. We can’t mess with the integrity of these basic equations and expect that the structures we rely on, will continue to be good and dependable indefinitely. Say if you decide to move or remove the brackets in an equation, it’s integrity is compromised and it can no longer serve as the foundation of any structure. You simply can’t rewrite the equation to make a thing work for you. That thing must in all ways conform to the primary equation.

That’s a bit convoluted but what I mean is that the ‘rules’ are not about micro-managing marital relations… they are about preserving the integrity of the primary equation that supports marriage as a natural and good thing for society on the whole for all generations.




What is food for? Eating. Eating can be a wonderfully pleasurable experience. But its fundamental purpose is to provide nutrition for our bodies. A person who, say, eats excessively for the sensation, or eats and then purges, or restricts calorie intake unnecessarily, is not using food in an appropriate way. And just like sex may not create a child every time it happens, we don’t have to wait to be starving before we eat.

That’s what natural law is - not thwarting the meaning of a thing for our own ends, but to treat our bodies and the resources of the world as they are intended to be used.



You’ve made my point. It’s purely a definitional argument.

Why do you use the word “whine” to define my comments? That’s not very charitable.



I have to agree with Mulligan2 on this one, as it makes absolutely no sense to me either. All it seems to accomplish is marital stress and feelings of guilt. This is a rule that has no basis in any teaching of Jesus, and is carried to a ridiculous extreme. Just my opinion.

A couple’s fertility is not really relevant as to whether their relations are completed in a procreative manner. As an example, a senior couple well past menopause can still have unitive and procreative relations…as long as they finish the act in the proper way. That act is completed in the manner in which a child would be conceived, even though actual conception may not be possible.

“Proper way”? I have this vision of some 75 year old couple making sure that they have marital intercourse in the “proper way” so as not to circumvent the will of God. And then to actually worry about the proper way for a husband and his pregnant wife to make love, or even if they should, and to create rules for it, takes me to the height of incredulity.

My feeling is that God is in heaven, shaking His head, wondering how these silly notions ever got into our heads. It seems like we have created a morass of man-made rules that directly thwart the purpose of God in giving us the gift of sexuality…I am still checking the Gospels, and am not finding where Jesus created all these rules and prohibitions. I will check the Epistles of Paul next. Must be there somewhere.



I guess I don’t see what’s so “unnatural” or rigid about it. That’s what sex is. It’s not like my husband and I are going about our sex lives with a mental checklist going, “OK, did we do this and this and this, and are we going to end up like this…OK, good! No sinning this time.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a very natural thing for us to progress to intercourse from other things. We don’t have hang-ups about it. We just know that’s what sex IS.

The OP is (was) being overly worried. Here is the Church rule: Sex is what makes new people. Treat it with a level of respect that doesn’t involve trying to turn it into something else. The end.

Lots of crazy rules and regulations? Puh-leeze. :rolleyes:



I have to admit that I find the discussion of how things should be done as in ‘they can do this and that so long as they end up with penis inside vagina for emission’… to be weird. I prefer the old approach of prohibitions against masturbation, mutual masterbation, sodomy and unclean practices (mouths and genitals aren’t meant for each other), to be more appropriate. Lets all use our common sense in the fine details.

But the discussion about chastity and how it serves human dignity, is really vital in todays world or competing ideologies, many of which seek to non-exist nature, God and our eternal destiny.

Did you know that there was broad consensus in Christianity in the past regarding human sexuality? The shift in attitude has come from the Protestant side who’ve chosen to conform more to the secular attitudes about sex. Did you realise that even Protestants prohibited artificial contraception? A the Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Protestant union passed a resolution allowing artificial contraception in cases of genuine hardship but stressed unequivocally ‘the Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.’

Most people don’t appeal to hardship in using contraception, but believe it to be a right of nature for convenience. That’s a false belief.

The Church is not ‘creating ill-conceived rules’ regarding sexual norms… she is promoting the dignity of man in relation to our sexual faculties and protecting it from hedonistic abuse.



Yes the OP is overly worried. But why? Why do people obsess about such things? Simply because the “church” does. If you read through many past threads around here, you will see that a lot of Catholics do have a mental checklist going. Marital relations, at least good relations, should be natural, without having a checklist in mind. But unfortunately there is this underlying thought that much of what people do, even within marriage, is possibly wrong or sinful, unless it exactly conforms to the requirement that it be “procreative”. This always seems to trump the “unitive” aspects of sexual relations, at least in the view of the “church”.

Let me take the idea of the 75 year old couple a step further. What if “normal” intercourse causes too much discomfort for the wife? What if the husband can’t “finish”, as an earlier poster put it? Seriously, I have seen posts where people said that any married couple beyond the age of being able to conceive should stop having sex…period. They think that is the only way to correctly adhere to Catholic teaching.

The fact that our OP, and many others, worry about these things, tells me that there is a lot of inadequate knowledge and mis-understanding about all of this. Think about this: If the OP didn’t have this forum in which to ask his question, to whom would he go to get a good answer? Quickly and easily?



That’s a good point. I really wonder what Catholic teaching was prior to the 1930’s? Did the Church concern itself with the details of marital relations a 100 years ago as it does today? Or is it a result of the development of contraceptive methods and a change in the attitude of other faiths and most people about this?



This might help you out with that perception: Who is Obsessed With Sex?



It does kind of lead to the question of how much of this is God’s command and how much of it is from people interpreting for us what they think God wants. :shrug:



You’re whining about the Church’s teachings…what else are you doing?



You’re whining about the Church’s teachings…what else are you doing? Let me say it as it is.


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