Sex Without Babies?

Sperm meets egg © Rongenel Robles |
Hello there, big boy!

Just to be up front, if you are of the mind it is sin to engage in any sex act that could not potentially end in conception, you and I will not come to any agreement on this issue. I am convinced it is not only acceptable, but also sometimes right to avoid having children. Properly raising children costs a lot more today than it did in the past, and the number of children living in poverty is growing. I think determining if you have a reasonable chance of properly providing for children is a necessary process when it is rather easy to significantly reduce the odds of having them. I know some will disagree strongly – I will address those in the comments as they come up.

The primary reason for this post is it was requested. One of you wanted a place to discuss various options with other men. I think it’s a brilliant idea. So hit the comments and share your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and questions.

I have done a great deal of research on contraception. You can read my conclusions on The Marriage Bed Birth Control article. The last major revision of the article was June 2010, with several minor update since – most recently September 2013.

The high points:

  • Some hormonal methods kill fertilised eggs, some do not. 
  • The pill messes with a woman’s sex drive long term – maybe for life. Other hormonal methods almost certainly do the same, research is on-going. (See The pill ruins sex? – also on TMB)
  • The jury is still out on IUDs containing copper. It may be they kill all sperm, but I’ve not yet found evidence I would bet on.
  • Condoms work fairly well, if used right.
  • Spermicides are a fairly good choice, if having a child is an acceptable possibility. 
  • One option is Fertility Awareness Method – knowing when she is fertile and using a barrier or having sex other than intercourse during that time.
  • Sterilization is getting easier and less expensive, if you are sure you are done having children.

If you care, our personal journey of birth control is as follows: 

  • The pill for less than a year (before we knew better)
  • Spermicides
  • Fertility Awareness Method with spermicides and condoms during fertile times
  • Vasectomy

As to the last, we are both glad I did it, and wish I’d done it sooner (a lack of insurance meant we had to save up for it). I was down 48 hours than back at landscape and irrigation work. I had very mild pain on one side on rare occasions the first two winters, nothing since.

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19 Comments on “Sex Without Babies?

  1. I think if you do not have the finances to bring up a child you should not have one its pointless bringing up a child that is going to be in a worse position than you and to use the excuse the Lord will provide is presumption. that you cannot do.

  2. Maybe we should never undertake any ministry that we don’t have funds in our purse to support?

  3. First, I agree with you, Paul…I think. Children are the natural fruit of a marriage usually. The barren wife is a theme in Scripture, but by God’s grace that situation is overcome. Children are a blessing! We should say no to God’s blessings very carefully. If a couple wants NO children I wonder if they should indeed get married. But that’s another topic.

    After our 4th child we used condoms for a long time, but I noticed my wife not enjoying sex as much. I realized she was done having children, so whenever she was ovulating she would become fearful. The times she most wanted sex (physically), she was most nervous (mentally). We decided to go the vasectomy route. Wish I’d done it sooner. We are part of Samaritan Ministries International medical sharing plan [if you don’t know about this group you should] which did not cover this surgery. I was seen in the doctor’s office, he used only a local to numb the area, and I got a 20% discount by paying cash upfront. One of the best decisions I ever made as it pertains to my marriage.

    • Pete Smith – Yes, the “fear” of pregnancy can harm a woman’s ability to want or enjoy sex.

      One thing rarely discussed is that women today can get pregnant later than was common in the past. Later in life pregnancies are more problematic for both mothers and babies.

  4. @Pete–I appreciate your comments! I think in our culture we’re so self-centered that we often use excuses such as financial cost to justify the degree to which we’ve taken family planning, forgetting the blessing children are!

  5. I just wanted to address your first point “some hormonal methods kill fertilized eggs, some do not.”
    Every single hormonal method that I’ve researched has three modes of actions: inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus (to block sperm from traveling), and thinning the endometrial lining (to prevent an embryo from implanting.)
    Pills with higher doses of estrogen may inhibit ovulation more, but the other two modes of action are still there. Higher doses of estrogen also carry higher health risks (blood clots and the devastation that can accompany them–I am a critical care RN and see young women in my unit from time to time with hormonal related injuries. They happen.)
    Progestin-only pills may inhibit ovulation less and rely more on preventing implantation.

    And that brings me to my other point–I believe the term “fertilized egg” is misleading. Immediately after fertilization, when the cells begin dividing, an egg is no longer an egg, and the sperm is no longer a sperm. Depending on your specialty, you may refer to it as a blastocyst, or a zygote, or an embryo…but what is being prevented from implanting into the uterine wall (9-12 days after conception) is an entirely different entity with it’s own unique genetic code.

    Hubby and I both follow you and your wife, and we appreciate all the work you have done for marriages. :-)

    • Mama – What you say about hormonal methods is more or less right, but incomplete. Yes, all forms of hormonal contraception change the uterine lining to some extend, and this will reduce the chances of a embryo implanting. HOWEVER, if the method never allows an egg to be fertilised, then this is a non-issue. There has been some very good, very detailed science that says to me that some pills never allow fertilisation.

      You are right about progestin only methods, as it noted in the article we wrote.

      As to fertilised egg I see your point. Blastocyst would be the proper term, as zygotes don’t make it to the womb and it’s not an embryo till it implants. My concern is that most have forgotten high school science, and that is why I use fertilised egg. Personally I think life starts when the egg and sperm join, and I think intentional destruction of a blastocyst is wrong;my word choice is not intended cover anything.

  6. I agree and disagree with this article at the same time (and a couple of the comments). We aren’t what they call “quiverful minded,” but on the other side do not agree that you have to be able to “properly provide” for children … to a degree. The word “properly” is the part where we get hung up. What is “properly?” We have met people that believe strongly that you should be able to buy all new clothes, new furniture, fund your child’s college 100%, etc. My wife and I both funded our own college education and feel that when you pay for it yourself, you try harder. We know too many students who partied their college away on their parent’s dime.

    There is a bit of balance, too, we believe, between being “quiverful minded” and in trying to plan a certain number of children (usually 1 or 2 or none) and that’s it. A lot of it boils down to motive, as with almost any other biblical issue. Is it more because of the time children take to raise? The time that you have to invest in someone else as opposed to your own endeavors? Is it more because there are less things you can do? (vacations, newer items, etc.) Is it because of a health condition? Is it truly a lack of finances? Most of these questions only God can answer.

    For a natural birth control method, my wife read the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, linked below. A thorough reading, understanding, and applying of this book allows a woman to know when she is ovulating. We only need to use condoms for about 1 week.

    • Jeremy – Yes, properly is the issue. I think you and I would agree on that, from what you’ve said. Hand-me-downs and limited perks are fine – shoeless and hungry are not.

      I also agree that motive is a huge issue. When a hear a couple does not want kids because it will “destroy her figure” or interfere with their dreams, that concerns me. Not that I want a child to live in such a family, rather it shows me a lack of maturity (of many kinds in the couple).

      I’ve always wondered if God might call a couple to marry and have no children so that they might better serve him. Sort of a take off on the idea of being a eunuch for God. Sure God could do it, but maybe He wants them to make a choice.

  7. An article about the benefits of large families.

    “His mission began one day at the start of the Iraq war when, while embedded with the United States army, he heard a radio report claiming that the cost of bringing up a child had risen to £180,000.

    At the time he didn’t have the five children that he has now, but he was already aware that it was bunkum to suggest that it costs as much as the price of a family house to raise each child. By sharing bedrooms, baths and toys, he could see that each additional child in a large family worked out cheaper to raise than a child in a small family.

    Nor did he feel it was fair to calculate that each child adds an additional 750 tons of carbon dioxide to the environment. “What about economies of scale?” he thought.

    “A four-person household uses half as much electricity, per capita, as a home for one. The people who are messing up the planet are the single people living alone in swanky apartments. Someone needs to rebut these nonsensical stories.” ”

    • Jeremy – No argument with any of that, but more kids still requires more income to care for them.

      BTW, the UK needs more kids, they are below replacement rate for their population. Other parts of the EU are in a death spiral population wise. Yes, I think that is a problem, but the lack of children is a symptom, not the real issue.

  8. Great article. The argument that sex must always have the potential of producing children runs smack into the biological reality that women eventually stop ovulating. While I had my vasectomy over 20 years ago, we have now reached this stage of our married life as well. Yes, we still enjoy sex.

  9. Brian – In the past many in the Church said that women past menopause, should not have sex!

    My problem with the whole “open to conception” argument is the fact that well practised NFP has a lower impregnation rate than common. Seems to me condoms are more open to conception!

  10. Hi. This post was very encouraging. I am currently planning for a vasectomy quite soon. Thank you for opening up with your own experience in this area . Quite useful

  11. Children aren’t expensive. Lifestyles are.

    I can’t be the only one that finds it sadly humorous when people say children are too expensive, but drive $39K vehicles while talking on smart phones to their spouses about their yearly Disney trip… While the kids are watching cable in their private school uniforms.

  12. Sara – I agree with your examples, but that does not mean kids are not expensive. Even done reasonably, raising a child to 18 cost a significant amount of money. A frugal couple who can raise four children well may not have the money to raise eight properly.

  13. Hi team
    Going for my vasectomy today. After much research which included your comments on this site together with much praying I feel its the best solution for my wife’s mental comfort. We have 5 kids ( 2 together and 3 from her previous marriage) and we both agree we need to focus time, energy and resources on this current bunch. We also don’t feel any objection from the Lord so here we go……Any last comments

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