Using Foods etc. to control fertility


Is it licit to use diet control to prevent fertility?

For example, I have read that iron deficiency in men can lower sperm count, as can deficiency in certain other minerals from what I understand. Certain oily fish can create a lining in the uterus or impede the development of the placenta in some way that makes viable conception less likely.

Equally, ecological breastfeeding can be used to lower a woman’s fertility hormonally, and there may be other practices or herbal supplements that alter fertility in other ways.

Is this licit? If so, how does this introduction of natural chemicals to impede fertility differ theologically from the use of synthetic chemicals in the birth control pill?


My guess would be that deliberately trying to impair the function of ones reproductive organs by eating certain substances, ‘natural’ or not, is wrong. If you had to adapt a certain diet for your health, and a side affect was lowered fertillity(I can’t see a diet doing that, but for the sake of argument…) that would be different because it was unintended.
EBF, on the other hand, does not impair the function of a woman’s reproductive organs. It simply tells the body that it’s busy taking care of a child right now, so let’s hold off on trying to make another one. It’s fine and dandy, and great for your child’s health, or so I’ve heard. :thumbsup:


I can’t comment of the morality of altering your diet to control fertility–though ecological breast feeding is not manipulating nature–the (usually) decreased fertility is a natural consequence of that natural process.

However–you might want to consider that since the ONLY guaranteed contraception is abstinence, putting your or your husbands body in a compromised or impaired health condition during a time when you could conceive makes no sense for you, your spouse or any child you might create.


From what I understand of EBF, the idea is that you carry on expressing breast-milk long after the child no longer requires this for strength and growth, i.e. once they can take solid food. That sounds a lot like manipulating nature to me.


This statement indicates you need to do some more studying on the purpose of EBF.


Ecological breastfeeding:

<<Ecological Breastfeeding (EBF) almost always provides this frequent nursing and natural infertility. It is that type of baby care which follows the natural mother-baby relationship. It avoids the use of mother-substitutes, such as bottles and pacifiers; it follows the baby-initiated patterns. EBF is the norm and offers many built-in benefits, one of which is extended natural infertility. In essence, a lengthy postpartum amenorrhea is the expected norm. >>



There are SO many foods/medicines that are “said” to lower/impair fertility. It would be near impossible to avoid them all. You would be beyond a vegetarian diet. :eek: I wouldn’t worry about it, unless the food/medicine has been medically proven to hurt a future baby. Then by all means avoid it, if possible.

Sometimes, with some medical conditions it is not possible.

Here’s two examples. 1.) I have asthma, my steroids lower fertility, but do not pose a major threat to baby should I get pregnant. My asthma medicines are unfortunately “C” category medicines. Those could potentially harm (cause a birth defect) but are not fatal to a future baby. I am unable to avoid these medicines, if I do not take them I will loose oxygen and die…thus…so would baby. They are completely unavoidable and necessary. 2.) I also drink lots of coffee and tea. Caffeine is “said” to reduce fertility. However, both coffee and tea can greatly reduce asthmatic symptoms, as well as reduce the need for pain/headache medicines. In fact, the same caffeine found in tea is also found in many asthma medicines, the caffeine in coffee is found in headache medicines. They both help me not have to take as much medicine. Which can only be a good thing.

God placed many medicinal qualities in foods we eat. Like the coffee/tea. It naturally helps minor asthmatic symptoms, and helps relieve a stubborn headache. Why not use its benefits? Also, fish, as you mentioned contains many oils essential for good brain development/functioning. Why not eat them for this reason?

If you eat foods for the natural and healthy benefits God made them for…I don’t see why not. :confused:

Just my :twocents:


I am going to assume you mean prevent conception. I think it likely that if a person elects to eat a certain diet for the express purpose of reducing their fertility during their next act of intercourse so as to hopefully not conceive, that this is not the correct choice. Here is the ever famous snip:

[quote=Humanae Vitae]excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.

But if your favorite food is milk, and for some reason you find out that it is one of a zillion foods that might slightly lower your fertility, I doubt the Church wants you to go bonkers because you still like your evening milk. This sounds to me like the sort of issue that a sensitive person could tie themselves into knots over.

I don’t think it matters if a pharmaceutical company engineered it, or if it is a more natural substance. If the pill grew on trees, that would not make its use okay for contraception.


Actually, it’s better to have very good nutrition because poor diet makes it harder to read fertility signs.


I don’t think there is such a diet, unless you mean starvation! I don’t think it exists, so don’t worry about it!:shrug: :mad: :confused: :stuck_out_tongue: :blush: :confused: :smiley: :slight_smile:


If you are trying to exclude some important vital nutrient from your diet, you place yourself at risk for other health problems, not just risking your fertility. I think that option is absurd to ever attempt as a way to get around contraception doctrine. Personally abusing your body or wanting to damage it in some way as an ends of ones action is wrong. EBF is a natural way that is acceptable because nature intended that breast feeding women be infertile at that time to focus attention on a new child. EBF is not abuse of ones body like the poor nutrition for the purpose of hurting yoru fertility (along with other things).


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit