Sexual Questions for a Married Couple


I hope this doesn’t break any website rules. I saw other similar questions posted so I thought it was okay. I’ll try and be as tactful as possible, but I have some sexual questions that my husband and I don’t know the answers to. We are really close with our priest, which makes it even more uncomfortable to go to him with.

I know that (self) masturbation in marriage is wrong. I know that sexual acts are supposed to remain “open to life” in order to not be sinful. However, we are struggling to understand why we cannot use oral sex or spousal masturbation during times in which the woman (me) is infertile and would not be able to get pregnant, or is already pregnant.

I’ve never heard anyone say couples cannot have sex during pregnancy. Obviously, a woman cannot conceive while pregnant, so it seems that the definition of “open to life” has some exceptions. If every sex act had to have the possibility of becoming pregnant, then it would seem that everyone should abstain during pregnancy and the entire time of lactational amenorrhea.

Since I’ve been pregnant or nursing for 5 consecutive years (and experiencing large times of lactational amenhorrea) I’ve only had 19 fertile cycles in 6 years of marriage. That would be a lot of abstaining, if I could only have sex when it was possible to get pregnant.

It seems to me, I’m still making a gift of my body to my husband. We both enjoy it and get satisfaction out of it. In times when I can’t get pregnant anyway, I guess I don’t fully understand why we can’t.

I hear a lot of “No, it’s a sin” but not a really good explanation that addresses my question. Obviously we are called to obey even when we don’t understand, but some understanding would be nice. What I read in the CCC seems to only address it’s wrong because the couple is avoiding pregnancy, which obviously doesn’t apply when pregnant or in lactational amenhorrea. We aren’t doing anything to intentionally avoid pregnancy. In particular, the part of the CCC that addresses masturbation also seems to be referring to masturbation OUTSIDE the marriage, so not performed by the spouse, so that doesn’t really help for my questions either.

Any help appreciated.



I admire your desire to seek the truth. I have struggled with the same issues. This is what I have come to know.

All sexual relations need to be open to life. This means that any act that would not include the possibility of life is not in keeping with the Catholic Church. Since any form of physical “gratification” cannot include the openness to the possibility of new life…the Church - morally cannot uphold this as acceptable.

Will I probably be contradicted in this forum? I assume so…however this is the teaching of the Church. It would almost be impossible to “cite” this - since there are many “citations” that would offer another view. Trust me it has been years for me to seek an understanding of this topic.



So, it is your position that, not only would oral sex be sinful, but married couples should abstain from even intercourse during pregnancy and infertile times since it cannot include the possibility of new life?

Just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Thank you for your reply!



Our priest told my husband a married couple can do anything just as long as it ends in intercourse. I am post menopausal so he knows I am infertile. I would think pregnancy is the same thing. Can’t get pregnant if you already are.

In my view married Catholics worry way too much about what they do in bed. I bet priests don’t want to hear about all the little things that go on either. I say it’s charitable to spare them the stories. LOL



Humans have emotion, in every manner you can think of… We are not robots where every action must be followed by regulation of some kind, if you don’t act as normal functional married human beings, then one of you two will start looking in the wrong places for what your emotions long for… In other words… Go for it while it lasts…



Maybe I should have read this before I wrote what I did,because its what I was trying to say,



Oral stimulation can be used as “foreplay” as long as the end result is unitive sex.
The Church does not micromanage our marital sex lives.
It is for example, totally acceptable to bring the woman to orgasm manually if she was not able to achieve one before the husband did.
And it is also acceptable that the woman reaches climax with foreplay (Since many are blessed with this possibility ;)) as long as the end result is in them completing the unitive marital act.



That is correct.



In all mentioned cases, open to life is true:

“Perfect use <2%”

“71 years 1899 Ann Hughes Simon Hughes, her 57-year-old husband Natural Conception United States Ann Loney gave birth to her and her third husband’s third son, William, in 1899 in Iowa.[143]”
(And there is also a story in bible with higher age, though the number might not be exact)

“In 1960, John and Mary Tress of Baltimore MD had what the nurse called twins. She was wrong. Dr Paul C Weinberg of Mt. Sinai hospital delivered the boys, Anthony John and Mark Francis, and realized that Anthony, born five minutes before his brother Mark, looked premature. Immediately Dr Weinberg did x-rays of the boys’ thigh bones and noticed a disparity in bone age. Mark was a full-term baby born five minutes after his two-months premature brother Anthony. Anthony was conceived a full two months after his brother Mark. {Newsweek Magazine, July 31. 1961}”

Of course from probability the chances on normal artificial contraception to get pregnant are much greater, than getting pregnant while being pregnant, but the point is, one did not do anything to actively lower the chance at that point in time, hence one is open to life.



I prefer to think of it as such.

The sexual organs are holy, because they have the power to create life (even if conception is impossible, they are holy by association).

Just like you do not use the altar for a pizza party, the crucifix for a coat rack, and you don’t put a swirly straw in the sacramental cup of wine, you don’t misuse the sexual organs.

This means, simply put, the sex finishing in the prescribed fashion is the only proper way to use these holy objects. Even if you can’t get pregnant, you’ve used the holy objects in the proper way. That’s the requirement.

Is that RCC opinion? I don’t know. That’s how I explain it.



Each marital **act **must remain ordered to procreation and unity. That is not quite the same thing as “open to life”. It’s more specific than just the couple being “open to life” in some vague way. The act itself must be ordered to procreation and unity, every time. If not, it is a disordered act.

Nope. “Open to life” isn’t how the Church actually explains it, however it is how a lot of people will explain it. Ordered to procreation-- meaning a properly ordered sex act is a completed act of intercourse.

Why? Because the orgasm is the by-product of the act, not the purpose of the act. When we seek the orgasm apart from the marital embrace, we have made it an end unto itself and that is wrong. The purpose of the marital embrace is for the couple to come together in a specific way to renew their marriage covenant. Not any way that gets you an orgasm, a specific way that preserves the entire nuptial meaning of the embrace.

No. Every sex act must be completed as God designed it.

Yes, that’s true. But that’s not what the Church teaches, so…whew.

Because you are not completing the act as God intended it, as God designed it, and as God established its use. You must both make gifts of your body, one to another, in a complete way or you are not using the gift of sexaulity as God designed it. You are breaking the nuptial meaning of the act. You are seeking orgasm as an end in itself (even though people often deny this and say they are being giving to the other, it is really the bottom line else what is the point of doing it?).

I hope you understand the act being ordered to both unity and procreation, a renewal of the marriage covenant, better than the vague and often used “open to life”. That is very imprecise and I can see why it would be confusing.

Remember that the pleasure found in the marital embrace is the by-product, not the end and not the purpose of the marital embrace.

Don’t read into the Catehcism what is not there. It clearly talks about seeking sexual pleasure as an end being wrong. The catechism cannot list every thing under the planet. The general guidelines of sexuality are clear-- each act of the marital embrace must be ordered to procreation and unity. That leaves out things that are not ordered to those ends-- which masterbation (oral or manual) is clearly one.



The way it was explained to me is sex during infertile periods is fine. We are allowed to manually and/or orally stimulate each other during foreplay. The man is allowed to bring his wife to orgasm manually or orally. The woman can stimulate her husband manually or orally, but he must reach orgasm within her body.



You think so? I struggle to imagine how our marital sex lives could be any more micromanaged than they are.

That’s all true. I would just add “if possible” to the last sentence, because it is not sinful for the man not to orgasm if he cannot do so due to a mental, physical or emotional disruption, and nor is it sinful if the man unintentionally orgasms outside of his wife.

Also true, everything 1ke said is true.

Though, 1ke, if you don’t mind me asking… sometimes the wife will accede to sex even when she’s not “in the mood”*** and this is considered a good and loving thing to do, but let’s be honest the husband is likely not thinking too much about pro-creation or the long-term well-being of the relationship at the time, but more about the desire, the release. This is sinful?

***= could be the other way around, husband acceding to the wife, though I’ve not known that to happen, lol…



No, it is not sinful to desire your spouse. God made the sex act pleasurable so we would engage in it. It just cannot be the end unto itself.

It would be sinful to *force *yourself on an unwilling spouse. It would be wrong for your desire to override *everything else *(i.e. like a bull seeing red). So I suppose in theory a man or woman could be guilty of the sin of lust if they were so uncontrollable as to seek that out at all cost.



Well, yes. I was assuming an everything working as intended scenario.

I have acceded and had sex when I wasn’t in the mood because my husband asked. It happens rarely, but I don’t mind. I see it as a loving and giving act. And, believe it or not, my husband has done the same for me. Guys aren’t always in the mood. Sometimes they are exhausted or really sore or simply stressed/distracted.



As usual, 1ke has succinctly and clearly explained what the Church actually teaches. Thanks again, 1ke.




This my understanding also…the orgasm (of both, if possible) is the culmination of the Unitive aspect of the act, and the ending with the husband having his orgasm within her body (such that conception would be possible, all other things being equal)’ is the culmination of the Procreative aspect.

I might add that going over this thread in my mind in between times that my wife and I engage in “the act” will certainly reduce the need for cold showers. :slight_smile:



Excellent post!:thumbsup:



The orgasm is the byproduct??? Biologically speaking not. And God created us the way we are biologically. There’s no pregnancy without male orgasm…a man has to orgasm to be able to create children. And biologically speaking female orgasm also serves the same purpose as the male one (fertilization) as it helps the movement of the sperm along the way.
Yes, a woman can get pregnant without orgasm, but she can get pregnant without actual intercourse too during foreplay for example…

During marriage preparation classes I remember we were told, that we shouldn’t use birth control and that’s about it. Otherwise we are “open to life”. To only have sex during fertile days? That’s taking it to the extremes IMHO given the fact that you can get get pregnant before and after, during breastfeeding, etc. as well. Don’t stop loving each other!



It is nice that God made intercourse pleasurable, but he need not have done so. So, yes, by-product not purpose.

Orgasm and ejaculation are not the same thing.

Not so. Ejaculation creates children, not orgasm.

Which is not relevant to whether or not the act is properly ordered.

Unfortunately many marriage prep classes do not treat this topic adequately. Sorry you had that experience.

I don’t see where anyone has proposed this. So it is a non issue.

No sequiter. No one is arguing this.

Certainly. But love is should never be reduced to achieving sexual gratification for its own sake,


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