Catholic fertility treatment options
Reproductive Technologies Compatible with Catholic Teachings – based on the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops’ guidelines
1. Observation of the naturally occurring sign(s) of fertility (Natural Family Planning). Timing intercourse on the days of presumed (potential) fertility for at least six months before proceeding to medical interventions. This is generally the fi rst course of action and one that is prescribed by doctors regularly because it helps couples know when they are fertile and maximize the chance of achieving pregnancy. Charting may also be indicative of other medical problems that affect fertility.
2. General medical evaluation of both spouses for infertility. This includes physical exams and blood tests to check for hormone levels.
3. Post-coital test to assess sperm number and viability in “fertile-type” mucus. These tests are undertaken after normal intercourse. These tests are done to see if the mucus is potentially hostile to the sperm and not providing the sperm the necessary nutrients to allow for conception. The cervical mucus is examined for various features such as stretchiness, ferning, and so forth, and they check for the sperm within the mucus. (Please keep in mind this test has been eliminated from most standard workups.)
4. Appropriate evaluation and treatment of male factor deficiency. Seminal fluid samples can be obtained from a non-lubricated, perforated condom after normal intercourse. You must speak to the lab to indicate that this is the way you would like to perform this test in lieu of masturbation to obtain a sperm sample. A perforated condom allows for sperm to potentially enter the vagina and is therefore not being used as a contraceptive but rather as a device to collect the sample for analysis while allowing for new life to be formed potentially. Treatment may include surgery to repair a varicocele, for example. This is to restore the male’s health.
5. Assessment of uterine and tubal structural competence by imaging techniques (e.g., ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram, etc.). These tests allow doctors to see if there are blockages in the fallopian tubes, for example, and some of the tests are therapeutic as well. A hysterosalpingogram can remove any small blockage through the procedure itself; the liquid/dye used to see the organs can remove any blockage.
6. Appropriate medical treatment of ovulatory dysfunction. For example, Clomid or clomiphene citrate is given to women in a great deal of cases and is a treatment that helps ovulation and the quality of the follicles produced. Many of the drugs used to overcome infertility help the woman’s body do what it is naturally supposed to do. Progesterone supplements are another common prescription for infertility. These supplements are given to prevent potential miscarriage. Through the use of medications, doctors can also help treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility.
7. Appropriate (usually surgical) correction of mechanical blocks to tubal patency (the state of being open). This is an acceptable treatment because it tries to restore the body to way it should be. This can be laparoscopy or hysteroscopies, for example.