31 Days of Writing with the Nester,  Abortion,  Bioethics,  Catholics Do What?,  Contraception,  Marriage,  Sex,  Theology of the Body,  vasectomies

I’m Catholic, can I get a vasectomy/tubal ligation?

There have been a number of questions about permanent sterilization during this month-long series, and while I wrote a post on it a while back, I think it deserves a fuller treatment, and a more nuanced explanation.

I know this is a question that many, many couples wrestle with. Even couples who have zero moral qualms whatsoever about shutting down their reproductive functions struggle with the permanence of surgical sterilization, because, well, it’s permanent. And that makes you feel something on a deep emotional and, dare I say, spiritual level.

We know this part of our bodies is sacred. Walk into any delivery room or birthing center and watch the miracle of life unfold and just try to remain unmoved.

There is something profound and powerful at work in our fertility.

The short answer for why Catholics don’t practice permanent sterilization is the same one you’ll get for why Catholics don’t use any other form of contraception: it isn’t broken. 

For those of us who are called to marriage and to parenthood, the invitation to participate directly in God’s creative process by bringing forth new human life is a staggering, gut-wrenching responsibility.

Vasectomies and tubal ligations take the “I will not serve” of contraception and carry it a step further, beyond the moment to moment “not this time” of hormonal contraceptives and barrier methods. They allow us to say with our bodies, in effect, I will not act in accordance with my nature, not now, and not at any point in the future.

In other words, God, you screwed up. I’m not supposed to work this way.

The Church isn’t anti contraception because it’s science. Or because it’s artificial. Or because she has million dollar stock options in thermometers. The Catholic Church (and, up until about 100 years ago, all of Christianity) opposes contraception because it is in direct defiance of the very first thing that He commanded us to do, once He created us, man and woman.

Do you remember?

Be fruitful, and multiply.

(Not: have so many children your uterus falls out and you go bald/die of starvation because you have more children than can fit in your doublewide. But be fruitful, and multiply.)

Children, in Scripture, are only and always a blessing. For couples who have many of them, and for couples who wait in longing for a single one. (Ahem, Abraham.)

There is never a point at which God says, okay, I think we’re good here, plus, you guys, college is so expensive right now, you probably need to go ahead and shut things down and start maxing out that 529 because otherwise you are going to be SO screwed.

If He sends them, we accept them.

And if we can’t accept them? If we are simply not in a place where it would be prudent/loving/responsible/safe/possible to accept a(nother) child?

We don’t. Have. Sex.

If you cannot welcome a child into your family you should not be doing the thing which invites children into your family. It’s that simple. And it’s that difficult.

For couples who have grave, serious reasons why having a child would be absolutely disastrous, how could anything else but abstaining be loving?

Because what if it happens anyway? We all know that couple who still got pregnant, in spite of their best efforts to prevent it. And then what? Hopefully not abortion…but what if the reason for not getting pregnant was a grave medical complication for the mother? How is that fair or loving to her?

It’s not just that, though. It’s not just the “you might still get pregnant even though you’re fixed” argument. It’s also because it’s sexually bulimic. It’s doing one thing with your body, but meaning another. When we do that with our words, it’s called lying. So when we do that with our bodies…it’s still lying. And denying the truth has consequences. Real, tangible, physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

Marriage is hard enough when everything is on the up and up. But when a couple chooses to consciously and systematically say one thing with their bodies but mean the opposite, there is going to be tension. There is going to be strife. There is going to be a breakdown in communication and mutual respect. And God knows we don’t need anything more stacked against us, not when it’s already an impossibly tall order. (Matt 19:10)

This is not a condemnation of couples who have made this decision and who regret it. This is, hopefully, a wake up call to couples who have never considered the real spiritual and emotional ramifications of physically severing the connection between sex and reproduction.

While there is no guarantee that either tubal ligations or vasectomies can be reversed, there are doctors out there who are willing to try. Depending on the individual circumstances of the procedure, it can sometimes be done. And even if it doesn’t work, what a huge opportunity for grace and for reconciliation to make that sacrifice, bodily, to attempt to restore what has been damaged.

For couples who are older, it might look a little different. While there is no way to return to one’s childbearing years and make different choices, there is a huge opportunity for older couples to minister to younger couples in the trenches who are considering making this decision for their own marriages.

It’s a message that younger couples desperately need to hear, and there are far too few voices speaking this truth: your bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, sex was created for marriage, and marriage is designed to be fruitful and life-giving. 

Don’t separate your love! Don’t try to undo what God has intentionally and lovingly written into your bodies. It is good that you are together, and it is good that you love each other enough to participate in bringing forth new life out of that love.

And God knows this world could use a little more love.

Click here for the rest of the series.

26 Comments

  • Tia

    As a non-Catholic, i have to say that this kind of logic is probably not going to convince those who don’t already practice NFP. Basically, because most people who use contraception who feel happy in their marriage won’t buy that contraception has negatively impacted them. I also think it’s a tricky argument because marriages that use NFP etc. could still be very broken, and someone could be using contraception but still, through luck, grace or other factors, have a very self-giving and loving marriage. It’s not an ironclad law, like Force = mass times acceleration, that always and everywhere someone who uses contraception will be less happy in marriage than someone who doesn’t (you might try to argue that they will be happier than if they themselves weren’t using contraception, but that’s an impossible proposition to test).

    Also, while most people wouldn’t characterize their fertility as broken per se, the human reproductive model, in my opinion, WAS broken throughout history. Women didn’t eat enough to conceive except every three to four years, still conceived and carried seven to eight babies, three to four of whom died before the age of 4, and then only one to two were healthy or wealthy enough to have kids themselves. Maternal mortality was high enough that many women who have kids today would have died in times past. The population growth rate for all of history was substantially lower than it is now because a lot of sweet little babies died. So somehow, our modern world has to take into account leaps in medical care and human health that have fundamentally altered how human reproduction plays out. People who use NFP face longer periods of abstinence than humans were ever meant to experience. I guess what I’m saying is that NFP is not something given to humans by God at the dawn of time, it’s a modern and very imperfect accommodation to changes in society. You can argue that it’s the least bad option available, but saying it conforms to our nature is a stretch. It very much doesn’t, but if you are Catholic you believe that it doesn’t lead to mortal sin, which is really the important point.

    • Jenny

      Let me see if I’m following. (And thank you for contributing to the conversation!)

      You are saying that 1. contraception is not fundamentally flawed and damaging to the human person/relationship
      2. Some marriages are troubled no matter what.
      3. NFP is fundamentally flawed, because it requires near heroic levels of abstinence in some cases and
      4. Human fertility is innately flawed to begin with, because disease and poverty have taken the lives of babies and mothers throughout history.

      I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not following how these separate belief statements gel into one cogent argument, either pro or con, or make a compelling case for contraception or sterilization. They seem more like an abstract list of rationalizations.

    • Tia

      I’m not trying to make a case for contraception. I’m saying that some of the statements you made are unlikely to be signed onto by those who are not Orthodox, or at least practicing Catholics. I was responding to a few lines with what secular folks might say in response. I say this because this is what *my husband, who is agnostic, would say, and I’m not actually sure what the counter-response would be.
      1&2. “But when a couple chooses to consciously and systematically say one thing with their bodies but mean the opposite, there is going to be tension. There is going to be strife. There is going to be a breakdown in communication and mutual respect. ”
      Answer: from the outside (and perhaps even inside)many happily married people use contraception and they don’t seem to have an inferior bond in comparison to people who don’t. Good luck trying to convince someone who is in a contraceptive-using marriage that they actually aren’t happy or that they aren’t truly being loving to their spouse.
      3. “The short answer for why Catholics don’t practice permanent sterilization is the same one you’ll get for why Catholics don’t use any other form of contraception: it isn’t broken.”
      4. “In other words, God, you screwed up. I’m not supposed to work this way.”
      Answer: Sure, it may not be broken per se, but our fertility evolved in a very different environment than the one we live in now. So it could be our fertility used to work great in the Pleistocene, but it’s suboptimal in modern times.

      Personally, I don’t think contraception is this awesome, wonderful thing but am not convinced it’s the apocalypse in pill form either.

      I think if you want people to be open to the idea of NFP beyond the crunchy granolas, the “it’s actually fairly effective at preventing pregnancy” and the “we want to have a kid sometime in the next few years” crowd, you have to first convince them a) new children would not be ruinous b) happiness isn’t the be-all-end all c) you can’t always know what will make you happy anyways, so having control is no guarantee of happiness. Those are hard sells in our culture, but to me those are the starting points, and ones that I am realizing more as I get older. Also I think those ideas become apparent to people without having to rely on a particular theological viewpoint.

      I guess I assumed this series was a primer for those outside the church or those unfamiliar with Catholic teaching, and so was just responding from that point of view, a totally secular one. Not really trying to make a case one way or another.

    • Jenny

      Okay, I hear you. Very good points.

      I’ll try to speak more to the ideas you present here as I wrap up this month, particularly: “new children would not be ruinous” and
      we can’t always know what will make us happy.”

      So, so true. Thanks for taking the time to flesh this out.

      • Tessa

        Yes. I have a similar view.
        I am super orthodox Catholic. But I don’t think “Contraception is bad for you.” is a good argument. Like premarital sex. I hear from Catholics/ Christians saying “Premarital sex is so selfish! He doesn’t really love you! He’s using you!” But being in a secular environment, I see many couples who have sex before marriage but have deep, loving relationships.
        “Because God doesn’t want you to use it” should be a good enough reason in the end for Christians. We obey God not because it will always benefit us, but because we love God and want to do His Will.

  • Christina Gignoux

    As a cradle Catholic, who’s husband had his vasectomy reversed, thank you for writing this! We fell into the cultural trap, made this permanent decision hastily, and by the grace of God found our way back to the Truth. We have had to work through the years of damage we caused in our relationship by inviting this sin and division into our marriage. We have also been blessed beyond words with 4 more babies, 3 of whom are here with us for a total of 6. I cannot tell you how many people have heard our story and have expressed their regret about their own sterilizations, people buy the lies of our culture. You inspire me to be more brave in my blogging about this subject! I am enjoying this series! God bless.

  • linda

    an USA based woman who was barren for 27 years has delivered baby boy after reportedly being pregnant for 5 years.
    the woman Ana Zick delivered on Sunday at Evangelical church, during church service. Ana who is married to zick said her problem started after she had a miscarriage.
    she said she has been looking for the fruit of her womb since then, she had sought both medical and spiritual help but all seen to no avail, she try everything to make sure she got pregnant again but all her effort bring no good result, till one day a man introduce DROKOJIE to her, who can help her, the man gave her the the DR contact and Email and told her to try and contact the doctor and also have faith. the woman really did, before she noticed that she was pregnant but at the same time, she was observing her normal menstrual circles, she said she waited endlessly to deliver but all expectations was to no avail, this prompted her to relocate, her searching for solution brought her to the church where she eventually delivered a baby boy, according to her, those years were traumatic because he husband was under intensive pressure to send her always, i was rejected by my relations, my husband family who did not give me the chance of bearing a child, my only consolations was god and this doctor called DROKOJIEHEALINGHOME the man introduce to me that help me get the pregnant the first place.
    on how it happen, she explained that she noticed that water was coming out from her private part and she went to a room to check what was happening before she know it, the baby came out alive, she said she raised an alarm which attracted residents who trooped to the church in droves to see the woman and the new born baby.
    when the PM news reports to the place, residents were still visiting the church to congratulate the woman and her husband, zick who expressed shock on what happen.
    zick said he did not believe his wife over the years when she claimed to be pregnant because he had waited in vain, he said he was grateful to god and [email protected] for what he had done and thanked the well wisher for their support, she also advice everybody who had the same problem of getting pregnant or any others problem to please contact the man for help and have faith because that is the most reason she came out to shear the testimony to word.
    the same god that use this man to help me, will also use he to help you too.

  • JSG

    It should say “tubal ligation”, not “tubal libation.” Though, that’s a pretty funny typo. Thanks for this post, I know lots of people who permanently change their bodies and it makes me so sad.

  • Db

    I just read this article on contraception. I am a devoted Catholic. where in Catholic doctrine does it tell women to undo a tubal ligation to reconcile with God?

  • Mid2016Commentor

    What about the couple who already has 5 or 6 kids and several miscarriages with a D and C? What if the wife has a medical condition that would be detrimental to her health or life if she go pregnant? I’m guessing that the church’s direction would be to abstain from sexual relations completely? But what is the greater good here – a sexless marriage or use birth control/vasectomy/tubal and allow that part of the marriage to continue to grow? I’m only suggesting barrier methods as I know the other forms are abortifacient I know sex is not the end all be all but it is so integral to the union. Some people its not that big a deal, but to others, it means more. We barely make love once a month – some may say “wow your doing better than we are, we’ve been abstaining for a year.” Congratulations – you’re super awesome…. I’m not suggesting that a husband and wife should be making love every day but…NFP sucks. You could even say the Joseph and Mary did not have sex and they turned out fine – please don’t bring that up – they had so much more grace in that department (or maybe not). NFP is a great on the books but when it doesn’t work for you or you are not able to get it right – it sucks. But you might say “well it is for us to suffer, life is not perfect”. Just because we can suffer doesn’t mean we have to. I agree with the above comment that there are plenty of catholic using birth control that are perfectly happy with their marriage (or they are just as screwed up as the rest of us and the birth control doesn’t effect anything) Sorry its late and just alot of rambling there.

    Peace.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      such a hard situation. I’m sorry. And the Church looks tenderly on couples whose story this is, I’m certain of that. But she will never, as our good mother, recommend something that is inherently damaging and contradictory to married love: contraception. In any form, it is intrinsically wounding to the sexual union and makes the husband and wife accomplices in each other’s sin. It’s fundamentally opposed to the oneness and openness to life of marriage and married love. I know this isn’t an easy answer, and I’m praying it isn’t received as a trite on, because my God, you have been given a heavy cross. But it is a seasonal one, that much I can say with certainty. Is a lot of abstinence during the fertile years of marriage an easy thing to bear? By no means. But no, I don’t believe God has less for couples who are tasked with this seemingly impossible burden. I believe He has more for you, if anything. But that doesn’t make it easy or even ease the pain of comprehending 10 or 15 years of long weeks and months of abstinence. I can only return to the Church’s wisdom and the teachings of Our Lord and see that He calls us over and over again to be not afraid, and says that his yoke is easy. Not that the yoke doesn’t exist, or that it won’t hurt, but that if we accept it from Him, He will make it light.

      I’m praying for you, and NFP *does* suck, but not as much as intentionally wounding your marriage through the use of birth control. Do most couples – including Catholics – use it? Probably. But does that make it right? And are their marriages suffering in ways we can’t see, from the outside? Peace to you as well, and thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I wish more of us would admit what is hard, what is breathtakingly difficult in a culture that has avowed to practice sex and marriage in a fundamental oppositional way to the teachings of Christ. This is our mission field.

  • Magdalena

    What a wonderful and thoughtful conversation. I am a Christian wife and mom, though not a Catholic, and we are welcoming our tenth baby this year.
    It would be dishonest for me to say that we have not seriously considered vasectomy, and not for any really good reason, after many years of being opposed to vasectomy on principle (many principles, which you so beautifully articulated). We certainly found it easier to “have convictions” when we were younger and had more energy, and our family size was surprising, but not bordering on the “obscene” or “extreme,” as I feel the perception is now.
    It is not my intention to dissuade anyone from clinging to their faith, but I would like to perhaps explore some of the comments further.
    Many of the comments compare the happiness/strength/honesty of a sexual union which does/does not include the use of contraception IN COMPARISON TO OTHER MARRIAGES. But this is not the question with which we ought to be concerning ourselves, and is irrelevant. The question is, “Will using/not using contraception cause dishonesty/honesty, happiness/unhappiness, holiness/unholiness in MY MARRIAGE, as compared to the opposite choice for MY MARRIAGE?”
    My husband and I have fallen into the trap of assessing our marriage/family so many times on terms that had nothing to do with us at all, but through the lens of how we THOUGHT other people were running their lives, and that was disastrous. In the sexual arena, for instance, our sundry and awful sins of the past have painted wretched pictures in our minds that we still struggle with daily. My husband often tortures himself with questions of whether he pleases me in comparison to “all those other people out there,” and their real or imaginary sex lives–porn he watched as a sinner, conversations he overhears from “the guys at work,” and NONE of it has anything to do with US, so we hate that it is in our minds. We are learning to think and pray in terms of our marriage only, as we do not plan on bringing any other folks into bed with us 🙂

    I wish also to address the idea that there is only one valid “conversation” happening with our bodies when we have sex. Certainly, I understand, and support, the claim that the primary purpose for sex is procreation–an awesome and humbling thing. But it is not the ONLY conversation, and in our marriage, those “other things” we say with our bodies are honest and extremely important: “I care about your pleasure.” “Let’s celebrate our marriage.” “You are a giant pain when you don’t have sex, so please let me take care of you so we can get some darn sleep.” “You are distressed by life and need comfort.” “You are 41 weeks pregnant and need my prostoglandin-laden sperm to induce labor already.”
    If we were not having these real, honest conversations with our bodies, then what would be the purpose of sex during the non-fertile days? What does God think of those days? Of course they are not displeasing to Him, and He made them just as purposely as the fertile ones.
    I deeply appreciate this conversation. Much respect and love to all who are participating (except perhaps the long-winded and confusing comment which appears to be a crazy person advertising for some fertility quack. Just sayin.’)
    -Maggie

    • James

      Just a question on this – on what basis do we conclude that procreation is the primary purpose of sex? It’s certainly one but I can’t find anything in the Bible that says it’s primary? In fact most of the reference seem to point to other purposes.
      I wonder if actually children are actually a secondary consequence of sex? I suspect for most people they aren’t drawn to sex by the promise of children but of the one freshness of it – so when man and woman are put together in genesis 2 (which arguably comes before the fruitful command in gen 1) the unitive aspect is more in play than procreation. Keen to hear thoughts on this.

  • David Harper

    there are many people who didn’t get a vasectomy that should have. My daughter is trying to adopt a little boy who’s parents have nine other children. They’ve been homeless on and off for twenty years. They were living in a trailer in the WalMart parking lot for six months when DCFS took the children away from them. As I type this the mom is pregnant with the eleventh child. In a perfect world this woman would be made to undergo involuntary sterilization by the court. Some of the kids have apparently been abused sexually.The court recently revolked the parental rights of the mom and dad. This comment will probably be deleted by this author since there is no intelligent argument she can contrive with which to discredit it.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      Abstinence? Unless the mother in question is being raped? Even then, the children are victims as as well. The darnedest thing about free will is that God allows us to use it. For better and for worse. For good and, yes, for evil. And stupidity. How about government-mandated sterilization for people whose politics we don’t agree with? Who have hereditary genetic disorders? Who are evil racists? Who were abused as children and are therefore more likely to abuse when they are adults themselves?

      You can’t have free will without encountering the inevitable consequences of sin and brokenness in this world. But no, you’re correct, if you fail to recognize evil as a real, tangible force in this world and human beings as inherently free to make their own choices, you won’t find this a compelling argument. That doesn’t make it any less true.

      I hope you can find some peace. I have read many stories of couples having V’s reversed and the joy and life it brings back into their marriages. Praying for you.

  • David Harper

    I appreciate your response. But I’m afraid your argument may be lost on a four year old girl that my daughter was given temporary custody of (one of the little boy’s siblings) . I watched as she was unable to stop crying for a half an hour which was all I could stand so I had to leave. It broke my heart. And I’m not what anyone would describe as “sentimental”. She was found by DCFS wet and shivering, half naked, in a trailer in the Walmart parking lot in January. The outside temperature was 20. A court ordered medical exam revealed that she was 30% underweight and three inches shorter than she should have been for her age due to malnourishment. The exam also revealed that she had been sexually abused. You can say what you will about “free will”. But any God who would countenance this scenario on the basis of the evil of sterilization is not a God that I want any part of. I need a better God than yours.

  • James

    So this is an interesting opinion and helpful as I think about this. But have you not reduced all the purposes of sex to simply procreation. What if the other unitive benefits and the instruction in 1 for 7:5 to not deny each other. It seems regular sex is a commandment? So just not having sex doesn’t appear to be biblically mandated?

  • TM

    I know this thread is old, but please help me. I am really struggling with this. I have had 4 children in 8 years. Personally, I feel like NFP is tearing my life apart. I have an autoimmune disorder and barely have the energy to are for my kids. I struggle with anxiety and depression. As in, I can be suicidal if I miss my meds. My last 3 were c-sections. I am at risk for dire complications with more surgeries. I have never fully recovered, mentally or physically, from having all these kids back-t0-back. I can’t understand how this is holy. We are too terrified to get pregnant at this point, so we won’t even risk charting we are just practicing complete abstinence – which is making is distant. Of course, if I do try to chart and we accidentally get pregnant, I could at best just be another suicidal wreck for the next year (can’t take the meds I need while pregnant), or at worst, bleed out on the table. So…risk my life or just be celibate? I mean, I don’t see how this is healthy. We HAVE been open to life, to my detriment. Now what? When I talk to other Catholic moms I just get the standard “I’ll pray for you” or “It’s all about dying to self” or “just trust in God”. I trust God, but I don’t think he wants me to go play in the freeway. This feels exactly like that. I can not, for life of me, understand why a tubal would be bad for my soul right now. I could be such a better mother and wife if I could just stay on my meds and not worry about pregnancy. I am not writing this to be snarky, I am desperate and in complete despair. How can God want this for me? How is this holy?

    • RS

      I’m glad to come across your post. You expressed my concerns as well. My pregnancies have all been high risk (the first I hemorrhaged with during delivery & had blood transfusion of course totally unexpected), one miscarriage requiring surgery and my last two I’ve had cholestatis and preeclampsia. I too am terrified to become pregnant again. I am very content with the beautiful family (3 healthy beautiful children) God has blessed us with. I don’t even want to chart out fertility days, I’d just rather not chance it at all. We are struggling with this as well. I am not Catholic but hubby is and he will be talking it over with the Father at our Parish. I am all about life and procreation, but we are/should be done building our family because of the health risks it poses to me and to future babies. I respect their view point on it but personally don’t believe they should have that much control over our bedrooms and intimacy with spouses. I’m all for sterilization at this point. We aren’t trying to be “rebellious” or anything of the sort. God already knows our hearts about it.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      No matter how old the thread I will always respond to a sincere comment. My heart goes out to you, I also have to take meds that are contraindicated for pregnancy. When I’m not pregnant I take something that works better, and when I am pregnant I take something that is “safer” for baby, but which does not work as well for me. I have a dear friend who is epileptic and she has to take a true Cat C med that possibly caused a severe brain injury to her youngest. I was actually talking with her last month about being “angry with God for making me broken” (I have depression and anxiety) and asked her how she deals with that struggle about her own health. Her answer really reframed my own suffering. She told me that she believes that God made her the way He did for a reason, a reason she has yet to fully understand, and that He did so knowing she would need the medicine she does, and knowing what would happen to her son. It sounds bizarre and fatalistic written out this way, but she’s one of the most pragmatic and real people I know. She wasn’t hyperspiritualizing things or being pious, she truly has peace about the reality of her circumstances.

      I realized that I could either keep railing at God for my perceived brokenness, or I could accept that He has something for me in it. I think of the line from Scripture “be angry, but do not sin.” I can be angry with my mental illness and I can be angry with needing meds with side effects and with being less than the mother I dreamt I would be, and as long as that anger doesn’t cross the line into sin, into choosing to transgress God’s will, then it’s okay.

      So I say all this to just affirm you that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and scared and like your situation is impossible and you can’t see a way out. Tell Jesus. He wants to carry this burden with you, not lay it on your shoulders until the weight of it crushes you. I do believe that, short of a complete hysterectomy, NFP is as effective as contraception, but it requires something contraception does not, and that is abstinence. Our culture tells us abstinence is crazy and wrong and unnatural, but God tells us something different. You have to ask yourself whether you trust the culture of the 21st century, or the wisdom of the Church. And then make a decision and beg God for the grace to help you bear it. He will help you bear it. And just from personal perspective, I think it is far more important that mama takes the medicine she needs in order to stay healthy and sane, even if there is a risk to the baby. There is always a risk. Getting behind the wheel, environmental exposure, etc. etc. Our culture is so enamored with the fantasy of control that we believe we can achieve this perfect outcome if we follow the rules and avoid x y and z and take plenty of b. But it’s a false comfort. Babies get sick and are born with problems even when parents do everything right. And children whose mothers have to take certain drugs are born without problems sometimes.

      I think if you are actively suicidal and despairing the way you are, the greatest gift to your mental health and marriage would be to learn a method of NFP that works well with your body. I have found Marquette (with an instructor) to be above and beyond any of the other 3 methods I have learned. We do not use phase 1 at all. I am too anxious and too afraid of another pregnancy right now when I’m in survival mode, and it is simply off the table and therefore out of the equation. I use the Clear Blue monitor along with OPK ovulation test strips and I confirm ovulation and then add an extra 24 hours even beyond what the official protocol stipulates for TTA. That leaves us with about 8 days a month, which for us is far preferable to my having panic attacks because I fear I’m pregnant. If I don’t confirm peak with both the monitor and an OPK, we don’t have sex right now. That is what I need for my mental and emotional health, and my husband is generous enough to give it to me. Not every season of marriage is made for all the sex we’d like to have – we both promised in sickness and in health without fully knowing what that would look like.

      If you read through the NFP series I’m running right now on the blog, you’ll see a lot of comments from older women who survived many long months and even years of abstinence. All have assured us that they have happy marriages and that it was a season in a much larger picture of the life of their marriage. You deserve to feel safe and to feel emotionally stable. Your mental health is essential to the health of your family. I will pray for you and am am here if you want to talk. Also, today is the feast day of St. josemaria escriva – he has some really powerful writings on suffering and on living out the Christian vocation. If you’ve never read his stuff, you might really like “The Way” or “The Furrow.” I think you’re really brave for realizing you’re at your limits, and for being willing to sacrifice so much for your kids. I am 100% confident that God does not want you to sacrifice your conscience for them. He will show you a way.

  • Leah

    Christina Gignoux
    Thank you for your response. It brings light to our marriage. We have been divided with the sin of vasectomy and are now getting a reversal. Any advice would be appreciated.

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