About the Author
This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by experts and fact checked by experts.
Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Sex Therapists with over 10,000 hours of clinical experience. Josh specializes in Marriage Counseling and Sex Therapy. Click here to schedule an online counseling appointment with Josh.
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Fear of pregnancy getting in the way of your sex life?
For many women, conflicting feelings about pregnancy get in the way of them enjoying a passionate sex life with their husbands. It’s true – abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% birth control method for women with their reproductive organs still intact, but it sure can be hard on a marriage (see Why Sex is So Important to Men).
Fear Will Ruin Your Sex Life
If the idea of getting pregnant creates anxiety or fear for you, it’s only a matter of time before that sabotages your sex life. Anxiety gets in the way of physical arousal such that sex becomes unenjoyable, or even unpleasant. Most of us tend to avoid things we find unpleasant. At the very least we don’t actively seek them out. Whether or not you consciously identify your fears as playing a role in your avoidance of sex, they likely do.
Common Reasons Why Married Women Fear Pregnancy
We have enough!
Maybe you feel satisfied with the number of children in your family. Maybe you feel overwhelmed trying to parent the children you already have.
Grow by Adoption
Perhaps you feel adoption is the way God would have you grow your family further.
Sometimes pregnancy can pose a health threat for mom or baby. Fear of loss of life for either or lifelong birth-defects can definitely add angst to the thought of pregnancy. If there’s been a loss of a child, the pain of that grief alone can be a motivator for avoiding the possibility of going through it again.
If our marital relationship is a mess, why would we want to bring another human being into that chaos? Uncertainty about our marriage can contribute to hesitancy over pregnancy.
When considering sex avoidance or lack of enjoyment due to fear of pregnancy, there’s an obvious conversation about birth control that needs to happen. Usually, it already has and the issue is more about a struggle to make a decision than it is a lack of knowledge about the options. Still, this article would be incomplete without at least some discussion of the options and issues surrounding them.
Hormone-Based Birth Control
Pills, inserts under the skin or in uterus – whatever the method of delivery these options work great for some while creating real problems for others. If the effects on your body and risk of problems are minimal, then you still have to consider the controversy of whether hormone based contraceptives prevent conception or just implantation. ¬For most of the women I work with in my practice, if this were a good option for them they wouldn’t be in my office. So there is a good chance if you’re reading this article, for some reason they are not a good option for you.
Whether it’s timing a “pull out” or ovulation this method is really only good if you like spoiling the most enjoyable moments of intercourse and rolling the dice as to whether or not you get pregnant. All such methods are notoriously ineffective – no matter what a someone who knows someone tells you. For every couple that successfully navigates a life-time avoiding pregnancy by way of this method, the other 99% get pregnant at some point.
Fairly effective when used correctly – also tend to take something away from the experience for both husband and wife. They definitely don’t heighten the sexual experience and most men prefer not to use them.
Requiring a little planning ahead, about as effective as condoms (but inserted into the vagina instead of over the penis), not a bad option if you don’t mind the prep. To properly use, with about 94% efficacy, they must be combined with the use of spermicide, which is of course super sexy.
May be necessary at some point in life, but generally cutting organs out of your body if not medically necessary isn’t our favorite option. It’s also permanent- which you may not be ready for. If you do go this route, do your best to retain your ovaries – you still need their hormones.
Tying the tubes can be effective and reversible, but is rather invasive and can lead to other complications.
Probably the absolute best option is the vasectomy. Minimally invasive, minimally painful, quick recovery (depending on how big a baby you are, you could be back to work as early as the next day). Reversal is possible if you so desire, though is not guaranteed.
What about the lowering testosterone? There is minimal research linking the two and most of it is from 20 years ago when doctors erroneously believed there was a link between testosterone replacement therapies and prostate cancer. Some research even shows a small increase in testosterone after the procedure. The truth is you almost certainly will not be able to tell any difference after the surgery than before – except you won’t be getting pregnant and won’t need condoms.
Between the options of hormonal methods, female surgeries, and the vasectomy – the vasectomy definitely is the safest and most effective. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than have any serious side effects. Most insurances cover the outpatient surgery, or you can pay out of pocket usually for less than $2k.
Can’t agree about birth control?
The simple answer would, of course, be “Get on the same page.”, but what if we’re just not there yet? I believe God wants for couples to move forward in life in unity and that He makes this possible through options that are a WIN for both husband and wife. I’ve seen this to be true in my own marriage and in that of my clients.
That means NO bull-dozing, steamrolling, manipulating, or forcing your way for either of you. That does not please our King. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of bringing conviction to your spouse’s heart and leading them to His Truth without your help. If you think you can do a better job you are sorely mistaken. If your spouse won’t listen to the Holy Spirit, it would be idolatry for them to listen to you instead.
Humbly make it a matter of prayer for both of you. Trust the Lord to help you both to get on the same page with Him. Ultimately as believers, that’s what we want more than anything else – not to get our way or for our spouse to agree with us, but for both of us to agree with our King.
Use your communication and conflict resolution skills to understand where each other is coming from and what you really want that possible solutions are the means to. Brainstorm together as a team. Need some help in this department? Check out the book Crucial Conversations or connect with a marriage counselor to help you work through it.
“Trusting God” with your fertility is good Christian advice. We should trust God with every area of our life and health. Most of us still wash our hands though, because trusting God with our health doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play a role in it with our choices. Trusting God also means trusting that He is able to speak and make His will for our life clear.
As with many things in life, we should make choices based on the best information and wisdom we have access to, in conjunction with our desires for life. Doing so means being prayerful about decisions, trusting that if we are headed in a direction contrary to God’s desire for our life He can and will make that clear to us. We can trust God to grant wisdom to us, so long as we’re listening (willing to be obedient when He makes Himself clear).
Choosing to use birth control of one form or another does not mean that you are not trusting God, unless God has made it clear to you that He has other plans and you are just ignoring him.
Save Your Sex Life
So, what if you aren’t able to quickly come to a WIN-WIN agreement with your spouse on the subject? Should you just avoid sex until you do? At worst that’s very manipulative, at best it’s a BAD idea. God designed sex to be an important part of the intimate connection between husband and wife. Neglecting it will create vulnerabilities to the attacks of the enemy in your marriage, as well as lead to disconnection and resentment.
As mentioned at the beginning, abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% method of birth control. Abstinence from intercourse doesn’t mean abstaining from sex. There’s so much more to great sex than just intercourse.
Not so sure? Maybe your sex life needs an overhaul. Sometimes going through a period of time in a marriage where you aren’t having intercourse really helps a couple cultivate a rich and vibrant sex life where before it was a minimally fulfilling one-act show. Deeply satisfying, orgasmic sex is completely possible without intercourse. If you’re not sure how, schedule an appointment with a Christian sex therapist to help you.
I highly recommend that as you work through what to do with your fertility, in a win-win God-honoring way, you also continue to share regularly in affectionate sexual connection. This will help keep sex a positive thing in your marriage even as you navigate this conflict.
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