I was recently diagnosed with PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The treatment for this is a combination of antidepressants and hormones. So basically, something like Zoloft and Yaz (birth control pill). I am really struggling with the birth control portion of the treatment. I have practiced NFP for the last 11 years and was told the the birth control pill was like getting an abortion. I was told that it still allows conception but that the newly created life can’t implant into the uterus. Not to mention, the Church doesn’t support or encourage the use. After telling my doctor that, she said I was completely wrong. She said that Catholics believe that life starts at conception and there is no conception with this pill. My doctor says she is catholic and would never prescribe something like that to her patients if it was like an abortion. What is the church’s stance on using birth control for medical reasons like balancing out hormones and not for birth control? Zoloft will help with the depression associated with PMDD but Yaz is for the hormone imbalance. I don’t know if this question is absolutely ridiculous but I would like to know so that I can start my course of treatment.
Technically, the Church’s position varies depending on whether you’re sexually active or not. If you are sexually active, the Church strongly encourages you to choose another option for treatment (try getting in contact w/ the Pope Paul VI Institute and/or one of their affiliated doctors). I realize that PMS & PMDD are different, but the PPVI already has a protocol in place for treating PMS, so it would follow that they also have protocols in place for PMDD or else they are in the working stages. If they are in the working stages it is quite possible that you could join the study and get some of your care at a discounted rate.
If you aren’t sexually active, then using the pill for medical reasons is entirely acceptable. However, the cautions that exist w/ the pill should be taken into account as well. For instance, there are several contraindications that many doctors do not follow for prescription of the pill. Some cancers are increased by the pill, while others are decreased. If you are already at risk for some cancers, the pill can significantly increase your chances of contracting/dying from that cancer. There are other health detriments to the pill.
As for your doctor, she means well, but I’m afraid she has been swayed by popular culture in her education about the pill. While it is unlikely for conception to take place since the primary action of Yaz is to prevent ovulation, its not impossible. The website for Yaz indicates that one of its effects is to thin the lining of the uterus therefore not allowing implantation. However, at this point they hide that information in the Physicians prescribing information for whatever reason. This may be the source of your doctor’s confusion.
Even if it doesn’t cause an abortion to take place… it still places an artificial barrier to life… no different than a condom would.
I wonder if it would be worth your while to continue practicing NFP even while taking the pill, if that’s what you decide to do. That way if you did have a breakthrough ovulation, you could see it coming and abstain, so that there would be no baby to be aborted. If your cycle is chartable on a high dose pill.
That said, I second the concern of the poster who points out all the side effects of hormone therapy. If you can find a better treatment, that fixes the issue rather than masking it, without all the awful risks, that’s the best scenario by far.
I looked up some alternative ways to treat PMDD and here are some links, while taking a glance, this statement caught my eye
“Studies show that about 25% of women will experience an improvement in their symptoms when given a monophasic oral contraceptive, while 50% experience show no change and 25% experience a worsening of symptoms.”
So there’s a 75% chance it won’t help. Try the other things these websites suggest since I’m sure it would be a lot better than living like brother and sister with your husband so you don’t accidentally conceive and abort.
And these are only the first two pages that came up when I googled “PMDD treatment”. With some in-depth research I am completely sure you will be able to find something morally acceptable.
By the way, try taking 4-6 Omega (fish oil) capsules per day. They’re nature’s anti-depressant They are what got me through my depression drug-free!
I have to make a comment to this topic here as I have seen it quite a bit. In my opinion when the only treatment you have is the pill even after all the research and number of questions and not many options it is hard not to use what is prescribed. Take in account that most of people in the Unites States are on Unemployment and can not afford other treatments that help with these kind of conditions and other female health issues. I know that the NFP method does not work for all couples. I am kind of under the impression that women are being condemned for using the Birth Control Pill for medical reasons. It is almost as if women use it, the cold shoulder is given, which in the entirety of this subject is not fair in my opinion. The main focus I would think is being able to have children. I have to say that I have been off and on the Pill for the last eight years especially before converting to the Catholic Faith, and it seemed after all the Pill was my only option. I think this is one thing that the church will not look at again in detail to change. I don’t think God would condemn us for doing what we have to do. It is like we did it on purpose or we caused our own problems, simply does not work that way. I am not trying to be standoffish, but in this day in age we can not be pick and choosy.
The Church does allow us to use the pill if necessary. We should use caution, wisdom and prudence and look for other avenues first. Many pills do have the effect of possibly making the lining of the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg listed as one of the mechanisms of action . If a married woman believes it is necessary to take the pill she is still allowed to engage in the marital act with her husband.
I don’t see the problem with you taking the pill. You are taking it for entirely medical reasons (which will improve the quality of your life), and not as a contraceptive. Your doctor knows what she’s talking about as well, see as she is a practising medical professional. There is no sin in this.
I personally wouldn’t take the pill for any reason. The pill has been designed as a contraceptive drug, not to treat other illnesses and if it’s prescribed for other illnesses then it’s erroneous. It’s like prescribing condoms to treat HIV. It doesn’t matter what the doctor says, it is up to your own conscience and it’s your individual responsibility to live according to the teaching of the Church. Again if you abstain then it’s probably not a sin but I think a lot of these drugs do more harm than good. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of drugs out there not labelled contraceptives but may have similar effects and have been developed from contraceptive pill science.
This is an interesting website:
Please do enlighten us all on why the medical benefits of contraceptive pill (that have been scientifically proven mind you) are in fact erroneous. You can also tell us why her doctor (again a trained medical professional) is wrong in the prescription given.
To this day, after years of research and reading, I just don’t get why using the pill inside a marriage is morally wrong. It is usually prescribed for irregular periods, where NFP is ineffective. It is also prescribed for fibroids. NFP in itself is a conscious avoidance of pregnancy. The only difference is that it’s “natural” vs. chemical. I have read Humane Vitae (HV), listened to commentators, researched online, and I just don’t see it. HV more or less declares it without setting forth a clear reasoned basis. In my view, HV kind of says it’s wrong because it’s wrong. And it wasn’t declared “ex cathedra”. I think the magesterium was panicked and somewhat short sighted at the time.
Citing the biblical sin of Onan (disobedience not contraception) and the reference in Genesis to “go forth and multiply” as authority is extremely attenuated. Interruption of nature is the presumed sin. That kind of logic seems to track with the ideology that medicine and pharmacology interfere with nature.
Of course, it was issued at a time when the sexual revolution was corrupting society. The immorality of free love with contraceptive among unmarrieds is pretty easy to grasp.
I don’t think I’m alone out here. I think there are millions and millions of us who have searched for reasoned answers and have not found them. There are tons of things said about disadvantages of the pill and advantages of NFP. All fine and well. What I do not ever find is a detailed, ethical, religious, theological, logical explanation as to why the pill is immoral inside a marriage when the couple is dedicated to children and family life. I think there are many who have searched their consciences and determined that it’s ok for them to use the pill inside marriage, dedicate themselves to family life and responsible child rearing, etc. The bad economic times increases real anxieties about being able to adequately care for children. I know the pill is now partially blamed for the disintegration of Europe because so many chose not to have children, the birth rate dropped and Islam is gaining ground there. The rise in homosexual movement may also be partially traceable to the pill but that still doesn’t address the “immorality” of the 2 married people. That logic sounds to me like bombing Belgrade was ok because of what soldiers were doing in Kosovo in the east. Totally illogical. But that does not address whether the pill inside marriage (with scheduling children and a committment to family life) is morally wrong.
Can somebody spell it out in simple terms and please not be condemnatory about it? - Born one of 10 children under the old NFP**
Just b/c something is proven to help doesn’t make it right.
Sure it can help alleviate symptoms b/c it is stopping the body from doing something via synthetic hormones.
There are alternatives out there. Will they work for the OP, I have no idea. What I do know is that the medical profession is trained to fix things with medicine. It is extremely rare for them to look at holistic alternatives.
I get back pain. While a physician would be within their scope to prescribe a pain killer–that is not the be all, end all for healing back pain. I prefer to look at my holistic/natural remedies.
I’m not familiar with the OP’s condition, but what it sounds like to me–is that she did not actually look at alternatives, or believed her doc when she was told there were not any.
There is a book–a couple actually. One is Taking Charge of your Own Fertility. The other is titled something like What your Doctor Doesn’t tell you about (Pre) Menopause. I slaughtered the second title–but that second book does address some issues that women experience.
Let us not forget that pharmaceutical companies spend lots of money and shoe leather to get the OB/Gyns to prescribe their pills. They do this with other companies as well. (Why I get tons of my Veramyst for free for my allergies.)
I think it walks the fine line of morality to accept a bcp for medical reasons.
All that I have learned in NFP–I do not think a couple can engage in intercourse while on the pill. They must abstain.
And one cannot do FAM or NFP while on the pill b/c the pill alters the bodies chemistry. The temps will be off (so you will not get a rise to know when ovulation would be over), there won’t necessarily be any physical signs. It is useless.
The fact that she is only prescribing a brand name pill that has been heavily marketed, sends red flags up to me.
Sure the doc has no problem prescribing it if it were like an abortion–however, her faith is very clear that life begins at conception. If a conception were to occur, a pill can still work by making the uterine lining incapable of sustaining that life. So while it isn’t the same as going to planned parenthood, it does not change hte properties of the pill and its duties.
Here is a link to some natural remedies that do not affect your fertility:
I am not here to judge what you are going through as I do not experience it myself.
However, when I know that women treat this problem holistically (regardless of their spiritality)–it would not be fare to affirm to you that yes–the pill is the only way to fix it.
Now you know there is an alternative–and if you choose not to try it, then you are making a choice to use a pill b/c it is easy and your doctor told you so.
I will let you know that unless your doc has an interest in holistic medicine that she will likely downplay the possibility that it could be efffective for you.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate your reply. However, again, what I want is WHY is it immoral for a married couple to use the pill when they are having children and are dedicated to family life. I’m not looking for the effects. I’m looking for a reasoned, theological explanation as to WHY it is immoral. That is what has not been communicated well. I’ve been trying to zero in on it for about 10 years. All l find is collateral disadvantages, anecdotes, etc. Everyone accepts the premise that the pillis wrong even for a marriage. Theologically WHY?
This site, one more soul, can help you with alternatives. As for people saying that only your Doctor would
know what you need, the Doctors recommended on this site are pro-life and want what is best for you and use Catholic Church teaching doing so.
Alicia, perhaps this article, from that same site will help you,
THE HARMS OF CONTRACEPTION–
Because it kills babies. You need more of a reason?
CONTRAception does not kill babies. It prevents conception. Set aside the minisclue number of accidental pregnancies on the pill, for now. Killing bablies was not the basis for Humane Vitae. HV said prevention of pregnancy is instrincaly wrong. I want to know why. HV simply said, that human fertilitly could not be manipulated by any unnatural means because it was God’s design, period. That kind of logic would make any surgery unnatural.
Although I have heard this idea that it weakens the uterine wall I have never seen any scientific reports that actual natural abortions resulted. Point me to a source that shows that and that would be persuasive. Also, this was never an argument initially used so it is suspect to support the theology.
Assume that the pill only prevents pregnancy. Why is that alone wrong. I’m looking for someone to expound on why, theologically, use of the pill is wrong between 2 married people who want to delay or space children or stop having children if they are economically burdened. All I ever get back on this question is it’s wrong because it’s wrong. Because we said so. I don’t believe the church has done a good job of teaching why.
As usual, the problem does not lie with the Church but with those who either refuse to read and study her teachings or just want a quick answer, right now on why they can’t do what they want to do. Contraception does indeed kill babies, most contain an abortifacient, this acts as a back up to indeed kill the baby that has been conceived. You can’t assume that the pill only prevents pregnancy, because that isn’t only what it does.
Do you understand that a LIFE is conceived when the sperm and the egg meet? This, even before it travels to the womb? Once in the womb, the enviorment of the womb has been poisoned agasint it, as though it were an intruder and the pill works to destroy that life that tries to implant in it.
Have you read the article I gave you from the one more soul site? Have you read either of these?
The literature included with the pill packs will disclose their aborticient properties. They must do so. Just like they must disclose any side effect that any study participant experienced even if it was just one individual.
Why do you require a study when the bcp companies provide that information within their own literature?
Theologically it is wrong b/c you are not open to life and are taking the very procreative characteristic of the marital act and removing it and saying it does not matter. You are not being open. You are not being one with your partner as you promised in your vows.
You are saying, I love you–but ewwww–not THAT part of you when you as a couple decide to use any type of birth control. Even if you receive the semen, but you use a chemical means to not accept the semen, then you are still rejecting your partner.
One can rationalize how “that’s not true–I do accept my partner”, but the words from your mouth cannot change the properties of the barrier or the chemical that is refusing to accept 100% of your partner.
I would have to dig through my NFP stuff to get you some more info, but that is something to chew on.
Abstaining during a fertile period is not considered denying your partner as there are other ways to build a relationship other than the marital act.
Now if you were to research the Quiverfull movement, they go a step beyond what Catholic Doctrine has to say on the subject and believe that even NFP is not acceptable as that interferes with God’s plan when you avoid your partner to prevent pregnancy.
It should be noted that NFP is not an excuse to avoid children–there are certain guidelines of when it is acceptable to postpone family plans and use NFP as a means to avoid getting pregnant.
A couple should be open to any potential life, but the church recognizes that due to health, finances (real financial issue–not waiting until you can live in a mansion financial issues), or other extreme cases that conceiving a child is not right at that time.
NFP is done together as partners, it is open communication. A pill is “fix it and forget it”, hysterectomies, tubes tied, or vasectomies for the purpose of avoiding children are self-mutiliating.
It seems you want to be affirmed that it is okay–and that just isn’t so. Literature is available–real literature that explains it as well as catechesis if you choose to read it.
Chemically altering the body to avoid pregnancy–is another way of mutilating your body.
I also want to say that NFP is not just about avoiding babies. We utilized it to consciously conceive our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pregnancies. The 3rd is in heaven as the result of miscarriage. But NFP is all about plannign your family naturally. It is highly effective if done properly. For most of those who “failed” at it–it is due to user error and not the method.
So the argument that it doesn’t work does not hold water. It is also not a modern day Rhythm Method. It is FAM with doctrine–without the doctrine it is practiced by many non-Catholic women who for spiritual or holistic reasons choose not to use physical or chemical barriers to plan their families.
Very good answer!
I’d also like to point out that NFP is effective for women w/ irregular periods, no periods, etc. The Rhythm method is not effective for these individuals, but NFP today is nothing like your grandmother’s (or even your mother’s) rhythm method. If NFP doesn’t ‘work’ for someone I recommend trying a different method and/or speaking to a doctor about whatever condition you have that is interfering w/ your NFP practice. All NFP is not equal and there are some methods that won’t ‘work’ for some people, but those methods that have been scientifically and medically studied can be tailored to each individual. Sometimes the sacrifices one is called to make while dealing w/ a medical condition and using NFP are too difficult for a particular couple. However, that isn’t the method failing, its non-use and/or incorrect use of the method leading to ‘failure’. The OB ultrasound tech at my SIL’s hospital said it this way… “Do you know what we call people who practice NFP? Parents.” NFP is all about being open to life even when you’re ‘avoiding’ creating new life. It also fosters an attitude of acceptance of the gift of creating new life, not the avoidance that contraception fosters.
Contraception w/n marriage is wrong not just b/c of the abortifacient aspect (although that is key). Is is also wrong because it separates the unity aspect of the marital act. The Church says that the marital act needs to be both procreative/open to life and unitive to be honorable. Contraception rejects both of those premises in various ways. NFP on the other hand requires sacrifice. It also does absolutely nothing to the natural ‘rhythms’ God gave women.
Another thread gave me this great analogy (thanks whoever came up with it). Contraceptive sex is like wearing a diaper. Yes, its easier to just use the bathroom where ever you are w/o having to get up. However, its infantile. We learn self-control early in potty-training. We learn that there is a place & a time for bodily functions. Using contraception in marriage is basically saying that you don’t want to 'grow up" and control your sexual urges. Instead you want to artificially ‘control’ your reproduction but still enjoy the ‘benefits’ of sex. In a way its like eating your cake & having it too.
- FWIW contraceptive sex in my discussion here in meant as being intentionally use to prevent pregnancy - not for medical reasons. However, the unitive and procreative aspects of the separation cause by contraception remain regardless of the intention of the contraception.