Condoms for permanent birth control?

Jay Dee

Condoms for permanent birth control?

Dec 09, 2014

I’m afraid I received this email from our Have A Question page nearly a week ago, so I’m a bit late in answering it.  The questions are: I have 2 questions. The first is, Is it normal or okay to use condoms because neither spouse wants

Anonymous Question
I’m afraid I received this email from our Have A Question page nearly a week ago, so I’m a bit late in answering it.  The questions are:

I have 2 questions. The first is, Is it normal or okay to use condoms because neither spouse wants to get fixed? My second question is Why don’t men like to get fixed?

Now, this has already been pretty much answered in our Birth Control Options For Christians post, but I thought I’d answer it directly and perhaps add a little more.

Is it okay to use condoms for permanent birth control?

Let’s tackle this one first.  This depends on your own personal theology system.  Most protestant denominations’ doctrine holds that life begins at conception.  In that case, condoms are perfectly acceptable.  In the Catholic system, each sperm is viewed as having the potential for life, and thus (and I hope I’m correct in this) there are a whole slew of sins you can commit merely by depositing your sperm in the wrong place.  The wrong place being anywhere but your wife’s womb.  Someone, please correct me if I’m wrong.

That said, these are church doctrines, not necessarily the individual’s personal beliefs.  My personal belief says that condoms are okay.

That said, be warned: condoms are not 100% fail safe.  They’re pretty good, but not perfect.  At the end of the day, if you are having sex…you should be prepared for the potential of having a baby, because just about every birth control method fails eventually, especially if you aren’t using it properly.

Condoms have about a 2% failure rate, if they are used perfectly.  However, the way most people use condoms, it has about a 15% failure rate.  Now, the wife has to be fertile at the time that it fails, so that ups your chances quite a bit of not being pregnant (I don’t know how much…stats class was a long time ago), but it’s not perfect.  Just be aware.

Now, mixing condoms with something like charting your cycle (I need to get Christina to post about this) can drop the failure significantly, but it’s still not perfect.

Is it normal to use condoms for permanent birth control?

How do you gauge what’s normal?  Well, I’m going to refer to our Permanent Birth Control survey we did a while back.  We have just under 200 respondents, so not a bad data set.  We didn’t ask about condoms specifically, but we did ask how many people are using permanent birth control measures (like a tubal ligation or vasectomy).  Now, if we only look at those 45 to 60 (I’m trying to weed out those who are still having kids or past menopause), we still have 68 couples represented.  32% of them aren’t using some sort of permanent birth control measure.  Theoretically, they’re not looking to have kids, but still need to be wary of getting pregnant.  I can’t say how many are using condoms, but I’d guess at least a few.

I don’t know if that makes it normal.  But it’s all I have.

Why don’t men like to get fixed?

Here are the comments from the men who won’t consider or aren’t sure about considering getting a vasectomy (getting fixed) from the same survey:

  • Because I’m scared
  • You’ll never know when the Lord wants to bless your family with another child. There is a 3 way agreement in a marriage and he should have that right, unless the health or mortality of the mother or father (especially the mother) is at risk.
  • I think there is always going to be an underlying fear of something going wrong that could lead to sexual problems. Whether this fear is valid or not…the very idea of someone messing around in this area will always have a certain cringe factor for men. In my current situation…I am also not 100% sure that our marriage will go the distance…so the thought of giving up the opportunity to have children in the future is also a factor.
  • Not necessary. There are plenty of other methods without requiring surgery.
  • It’s a permanent desecration of our bodies. It’s like disfiguring your face or removing a limb.
  • We don’t believe in interrupting the body’s natural processes.  Avoid negative side effects; there are no clear health benefits. There are clear health benefits to NOT doing the procedure. We are comfortable doing natural family planning.
  • God made me unique and everything in my body has a purpose. If I go and cut myself up so I can have pleasure without the responsibility of pregnancy is not God’s choice for me, but mine own.
  • After 4 children we prayed and asked God about birth control, because we were ready with making children. God said He is the One who opens the womb and He is the One who closes the womb.
    He will provide for the children He wants to give us. Are we going to let Him bless us with the children He is in store for us or are we going to go do it our own way. The next 4 years the sex was wonderful, because we didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant any more. We have 6 beautiful children and God takes cares of all of them financially and spiritually.
  • No desire to break what God made.
  • Can not find anywhere in the Bible where God encourages a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and than work hard to prevent children. The only support that I can find for preventing pro creation comes from the philosophy and ideas of pagans who denied the truth of God’s word. I am still searching the scripture daily in case I missed the passages that encourages prevention.

So, yes, some men are scared.  But it seems a lot of them do it for theological reasons.  Granted, they may be using that to mask their fear.  We’ll never know.

I can answer for myself though.  I am scared.  Here are my reasons:

  • About 1% of vasectomies fail to prevent pregnancies.  That’s pretty good.  But not perfect.
  • I’m worried that the doctor is going to inadvertently damage my sex life permanently.  This is probably my biggest fear.
  • There may be an increase in prostate cancer rates (jury is still out, conflicting studies).  With cancer rates at about 50% these days… (saw a study that said autopsies on non-cancer patients who died from other causes still showed cancer in 50% of men).
  • There is the feeling that taking my ability to procreate away (even if I don’t intend to use it) makes me less of a man.  I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s there and I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge it.  This effect has been documented in studies.  The studies showed that while men verbally say they have no issue, it was clear they were having trouble coping to the reality of it.  This is particularly strong in cases where the men were bullied or pressured into getting a vasectomy.  To be honest, Christina is driving this vasectomy idea at the moment, actually, for both of us to get “fixed”.  While that is fair (both of us I mean).  I’m concerned that I’ll resent her pushing for it after the fact if something goes wrong, and I don’t want to be that way.

So, there are my fears.  In addition to that, I honestly don’t know where I stand on the whole theology point.  On the one hand, if God really wanted us to have more kids, surgery isn’t going to stop Him.  On the other hand, I’m not a fan of elective surgery generally.  And this feels elective rather than life threatening.  So, that’s my take.

Your Turn

What would you say to this reader?

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32 thoughts on “Condoms for permanent birth control?”

  1. John says:

    In the Catholic system, each sperm is viewed as having the potential for life, and thus (and I hope I’m correct in this) there are a whole slew of sins you can commit merely by depositing your sperm in the wrong place. The wrong place being anywhere but your wife’s womb. Someone, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    You are right.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks John,

      I hope that’s an answer as an informed Catholic (or former catholic), and not a guess…like mine.

      1. John says:

        Yes I am an informed Catholic. Who would have thought, a Catholic running MarriedDance.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          And people say Catholics are sexually repressed….

          1. John says:

            In the past, yes. In modern times, not really. The Catholic Church is still divided on some things, but for the most part the attitude is have fun and make babies.

    2. Josh says:

      Being a non-Catholic who married a woman who was raised Catholic, their doctrine always amused me on this… Not because I disresprct the opinion, but because it is presented in a way that is wholly illogical to my software engineer mind:

      * it’s ok to try not to have kids (natural family planning is still depositing sperm into what is believed to be a not fertile womb… Which isn’t rationally different than depositing it in a condom. In both cases you are intending to not cause conception).
      * except that it’s actually not ok to do so in a way that is somewhat statistically more effective.
      * the reason according to the priest was that using birth control removed the “chance” of conception… I hope he just misspoke, because…
      * no form of birth control is 100% outside of abstinence, so there is always a chance… And the kicker…
      * one of the main pillars of the Christian faith is that if God REALLY wanted you to have a child, abstinence isn’t going to prevent His will either.

      Does the Catholic church really think that the same God that made Mary pregnant as a virgin, and gave Abraham and Sarah a child at age 120 can’t defeat the latex sleeve you’re using if He really has another child in His plans for you? I really hope the priest that talked to us just failed at explaining the position.

      Note: I am not trying to belittle anyone’s beliefs. My computer trained brain can’t easily let go of seemingly warped logic however. I can deal with faith based rational… But it has to be internally consistent. I suppose it’s true, that consistency as I understand it may be flawed in the wonder that is God’s creation, but I doubt that those explaining this position are any closer to knowing who marked off the dimensions when God laid the earth’s foundation than I am.

  2. E says:

    What about natural family planning? It requires a little bit of research and being in tune with your body, but can be a great form of birth control, while also being completely free of cost, effective, non-hormonal, and without requiring any permanent measures to be taken. That’s what I’d recommend if anyone asked me this question, as it’s worked amazingly for our family. Also, when talking of getting “fixed”, look at the antonym : broken. There is nothing broken about keeping your body just as God designed it. 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yes, that’s an option. However, stats say it has a 9% failure rate when done perfectly. 25% the way most people do it. Not exactly birth “control”. More like birth “wishful thinking”.
      Our baby due in February is a product of NFP.

  3. E says:

    haha! Well, it likely works better for some than others. After 11 years and 4 children, my husband and I have only gotten pregnant when “trying” and never had issues with NFP over all those years. With all 4 children, we always got pregnant within the first 2 months we tried, so we’re mighty fertile. We must have it down to a science! I have quite a few friends and family with similar results. It’s definitely a noninvasive option for those who are willing to try it (and always know there is a possibility of pregnancy, like with other birth control measures). Hormonal and permanent options are not an option for us and neither of us want to deal with condoms indefinitely, so it works for us!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yep, worked for us for 12 years and 4 kids. Same thing, got pregnant as soon as we tried…then…you ready for a 5th?

  4. E says:

    Well, I’m not sure, but I guess if that’s what God plans for us, we will accommodate. Like I said, we don’t have many other options, so I’ll just give it to God and see!

  5. Crystal says:

    Thank you for answering my questions please keep blogging you guys are amazing

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for letting me know you saw it! I so often wonder if the people who ask these anonymous questions ever see my response.
      Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere.

  6. Dan says:

    We had an NFP on the last one two, After 3, the last after a 15 yr hiatus, my wife was more than a little depressed. Had we been more of the world, we probably would have aborted. We were both close on either side of the 40 mark. The chances of significant health issues for the baby and mother are much higher that late in life and we had three at home still to take care of. We didn’t want to risk them losing their mother. It was only the depression (Satan) talking and she got past it. She was born to be a mommy anyway. We had daughter two and she has been a source of joy mixed with 5 years of heartache and worry. Those 5 years just ended, she’s home and we’re very happy.

    She knows she was an “accident”. We chose to tell her about it and that we had talked about terminating for health reason of her and her mother in case it ever came out somehow. You don’t always remember what you talked about with whom. Then we told her that she is SPECIAL in a way our other babies aren’t. “The others were planned. You may not have been planned, but you were chosen.”
    God does know what He’s doing.

  7. JAMES WITTER says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I a vasectomy about 2 years ago and have not had any problems… I would say to make sure you are getting a very good doctor that has done plenty of them. Make sure you ice down the ball sac for the first few days. I was very scared with someone cutting on my sac and had put it off for years but finally had it done so that I would not have to wear a condom and enjoy the feeling of skin on skin during intercourse….We were done with having the kids we wanted and we felt it was time to get it done.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I haven’t really had to deal with condoms, so that hasn’t been a burden yet. My wife has been pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly a decade, so it hasn’t been an issue.

  8. El Fury says:

    I’ve read horror stories about vasectomies killing male libido. Seems like a limited percentage of people, but ugh.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, that’s what scares me. I don’t want to be one of the unfortunate few.

      1. Frankly speaking says:

        My wife and I discussed permanent birth control after we were blessed with 4 children. We went with the big V after deciding it was the least invasive. Wow, best decision we could have made. I think my wife wishes it slowed my drive down from the 2-4x weekly. (She would be happy with 1-2.) Take it easy for a few days after the procedure and get tested to ensure it worked and your good to go. Most of the men now in our family now have it done. I had some concerns going in but would make the same decision without any of the concerns now. Easy choice.

    2. Paul Byerly says:

      Best thing we ever did for our sex life!

  9. Lindsay Harold says:

    “On the one hand, if God really wanted us to have more kids, surgery isn’t going to stop Him. ”

    I think this sentiment is wrong. I hear it a lot, but I don’t see that it’s backed up in Scripture. The idea seems to be that if God wants something, He’s going to get it. But we know that God wants everyone to be saved, and not everyone is. God didn’t want Adam and Eve to sin, but they did. God didn’t want the Israelites to worship other gods, but they did. There were times that God wanted to pour out blessings on His people, but their actions prevented it. I don’t think you can expect God to supernaturally override your will when we has a different plan for your life than you do. God certainly could. We know He has the power. But the Bible is pretty clear that He usually doesn’t interfere with a person’s will or remove the consequences of their actions.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think using contraception is perfectly fine. I’m not even necessarily against permanent solutions. I just don’t think it’s theologically correct to think you can do whatever you want and if God wants something different, He will just supernaturally make what He wants happen. I think lots of people do things that prevent them from having what God wants them to have, and sometimes that includes children. We humans can prevent children God wants to bless us with. God won’t override our choices, even if we’re making a choice He doesn’t like.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think I may have inadvertently sent the wrong message with that. The problem of being brief I guess.

      To expand: Should I err and take permanent measures when it was against His will that I do it, He knows that I will gladly accept a “miracle” if it would further His kingdom. There are times were God overrides choice. Jonah and Saul are prime examples. We also see in Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 that God can still turn things to good from bad choices,

      I never meant to imply that we can go against God’s will just because He can fix it anyways, or will override us if we’re wrong. That would go against Romans 6.

      I hope that clarifies. Thanks for commenting Lindsay.

      1. Lindsay Harold says:

        That does indeed clarify. Thanks.

    2. Megan says:

      Hello, i had a friend who told me her getting fixed story: she had two kids and said honey we are done i want to get fixed. So she did. She got pregnant and had her third child. She said well that didnt work your turn husband, so he did. She got preg with 4th child! They both checked with their docs and he said you are both fixed and there is nothing faulty. They both decided God wanted them to have two more children and was showing them His power and glory and blessing. They have not been preg since and all kids are grown up (youngest is 25 oldest 40s) She believes its a great miracle and still amazes her to this day. She is in her 60s. Thats my story, rather hers.

  10. J. Parker (@HotHolyHumorous) says:

    I am so thankful that my husband was willing to have a vasectomy. We have experienced absolutely no problems, and our freedom to make love without concerns about birth control have been wonderful. And no, my hubby is not one iota less of a man in my eyes or in his own.

    I do appreciate your honest appraisal of this subject. I believe this is a personal decision, and one that should be made after gleaning the medical facts, discussing the issues with your spouse, considering your faith, and praying about the decision.

  11. me says:

    My DH chose vasectomy. Each pregnancy got worse, half ended in miscarriages, one miscarriage nearly took my life with it, none of my babies made it full term, and the post partum depression was scary, full of nervous breakdowns and even life-ending thoughts. Hubby lovingly looked at me and thought there was no way he could put me through that again. Our youngest is 2.5 and I am only just getting better. Another pregnancy would require hospitalization both regular and mental. What would we do with our other kids? Plus, we have no room in our tiny house, cannot make ends meet as it is, and DH has a chronic illness that comes and goes and puts me in caregiver position. We may as well put our kids in foster care if I get pregnant while he is sick. So, forget it. We’re done!

    Natural family planning and the film spermicide both failed for us. The film failed twice, but one was a miscarriage, possibly due to the sperm being damaged by the spermicide.

  12. Paul Byerly says:

    The 15% failure rate for typical condom use means for every 100 women, 15 will get pregnant in one year. It includes all sex, including when she is not fertile.
    As a long term method, the odds of a pregnancy are very high. Of course folks can learn to use them correctly, which helps a good deal. Even then, most couples who use them well for a decade will have at least one child, and some more than one.

  13. Keelie Reason says:

    I say you should most certainly have to be at peace with your decision. I know couples that have chosen to use barrier methods or other forms of birth control instead of having tubes tied or vasectomy. I think it is your personal decision between, you, God and your spouse.

    I had to have c-sections with all of my kids. Since I have a connective tissue disorder that I found out about when I was pregnant with my third child, I decided to have my tubes tied after that c-section. I don’t suggest everyone get that done. It was what was best for me in my situation. I couldn’t afford to have an unexpected pregnancy later on in life. I can tell you that my husband had no intentions of getting a vasectomy. He didn’t like the thought of condoms forever either.

    I don’t know what we would have done if I hadn’t made the choice I made. It was pretty imperative that I not get pregnant after the third baby. I had two unexplained miscarriages trying to have the third one, and I’m pretty sure it might have had to do with my disorder.

    Either way, that is what we felt at peace about.

  14. Ricky says:

    I would have gotten a vasectomy but my wife had to have C sections so she just had them do it while they were already in there. I grew up in the church but as I have gotten older I definitely have some different thoughts about the bible, what’s real and what’s metaphors and what is actually able to be applied in the world today. To me having sex with reproductive positive Christian who don’t use birth control in the sense that what is Gods Will will be done seems a little ridiculous to me. Your not using birth control, your going to get pregnant. That’s not Gods will that’s niave and in my opinion testing God if anything. It would be no different the spending your Bill money on tithing and saying if it’s Gods will he will provide for us. I also find it ironic when say God spoke to me (us) and we felt this is his will. I think a lot of times people know what’s right and wrong or what they need to do in situations but discredit the strength HE gives us by giving him sole credit for everything. We are stronger then we realize and it is because of Him. It’s like that saying where there’s only one set of foot prints. Lol. No, there are two sets and he’s walking right beside us not carrying us.

  15. Ricky says:

    God wants us to be happy. His will and our will are two different things. To say his will is being done because people are not using birth control cracks me up. He allows a lot of things but it’s not always his will. Plus the bible was written a few thousand years ago before birth control like they have today and when kids were getting married at 14. Things don’t always apply today that’s why I believe that there is a base to believing in Jesus the rest is between you and him. Something that convicts you may not convict another and neither are right or wrong. From growing up in a strict Christian family to falling away and slowly coming back I’m blown away by:
    1. The niaveness of Christians
    2. The lack of sex awareness or knowledge

  16. Vladimir Pustin says:

    Condoms can break. Then they leave a vagina full of sperm. It happened to me twice and got both ex-girlfriends pregnant in school. They had abortion. Only the pill and withdraw methods work 100% (if used properly)

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Um, no.
      Withdrawal failure rate is about 27% over a year. So, that’s 1 in 4 people using the withdrawal method for a year will get pregnant.
      The pill is about 7%, so much less, but still, that’s 7 our of 100 over a year.

      The only 100% method is abstinence. Anyone telling you differently hasn’t done their research or is selling you something.

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