Say a married couple has sex, no babies are coming out, they go to a doctor, and they find out that they can't have children due to certain complications.

Given that the Catholic church takes a strong stand on the reproductive nature of sexual activity, if they have sex, is it sinful?

  • 3
    why would it be sinful? Please provide some sources where it describes as sinful.
    – Grasper
    Nov 11, 2015 at 20:44
  • 7
    In my opinion, it is a valid question, since the Church insists that the sexual act must be open to procreation—i.e., fecundity should not be deliberately impeded. (The Church does not, however, teach that each sexual act needs to be explicitly for the sake of procreation.) I don't see a duplicate here, either. Nov 12, 2015 at 6:53
  • The way I've seen it is that a medical diagnosis of impotence is never 100% accurate, and God can also grant miracles of fertility at any time that he wishes. There is even evidence of this in scripture - see, for example, the birth of John the Baptist and Isaac. Therefore, couples can never be sure that they are unable to have children. Apr 11, 2017 at 12:23
  • @RobertColumbia What about when the woman has had a hysterectomy?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 8, 2019 at 23:49
  • There have been instances of women turning up pregnant after having a hysterectomy. It is exceptionally rare, but it has been documented.
    – EvilSnack
    Jul 9, 2019 at 3:14

2 Answers 2


I believe this to be a valid question because there can be confusion here.

HUMANEA VITAE 11. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, "noble and worthy.'' (11) It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. (12)

The Church's position is that the married couple be open to procreation, not that procreation is mandatory.

Sarah had complications. Elizabeth had complications. Even our Blessed Mother had a missing element required for procreation.

Nothing is impossible For God.

  • 1
    The pithy version of this might be rendered as "keep trying and pray for a miracle" Feb 4, 2016 at 18:56

Marc's answer is correct. One might further add that Bible translations such as the New American Bible, which are respected by the Catholic Church, contain such verses as Mark 10: 7,8. "For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother, and the two shall become one flesh.....etc. This is a definition of marriage embedded within Jesus's teaching about divorce (which is sinful). Neither in this definition, nor in any other authoritative definition of marriage, are children even mentioned as being necessary, implying that the marriage is complete with or without children. Therefore, an inability to have children cannot be sinful.

Do not confuse religious cultural expectations with sinfulness. The two are not necessarily related.

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