Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at

Monday, July 14, 2014

What About Birth Control for Newlyweds?

[Dear Readers,

I received the following comment on the June 11, 2014, post "What is the Church's Position on Birth Control?".  Felling it worthy of it's own column, I'm posting it, and my response, below.

Best to all,

- Bro Jo]

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Jo! I love your blog and it's very insightful. :)

That being said, although you answered the question about birth control, I just wondered what you personally feel in a situation that I came across when I met one of my roommates at BYU last year.

As usually happens, us roommates were talking amongst ourselves about silly things like wedding colors and honeymoon destinations we wanted, when one particular roommate started talking about her parents' wedding. We came to find out that she was a product of two virgins having sex for the first time on the night of their wedding (I'm not sure why her parents told her this, nonetheless, they did).

Now, I don't know about you and your wife or anyone else, but if I was a newly married bride who became pregnant the night of her wedding, I'm don't think that I would be ready to take care of a child, and even if I was, I'm not sure I'd want to. I know that's extremely selfish, but I'd rather take at least a few months to enjoy time with my new husband before embarking on that path of life, which I am excited to do eventually, just not my wedding night. From what my roommate said, her parents sort of felt the same way. They had no money, her dad had lost his job, and her mom was very sick throughout the pregnancy, they could barely pay bills, let alone buy food and baby things. Although she was/is a great blessing to their family and is an amazing young woman, it seems her parents just weren't prepared for a child at that time in their lives.

So, I guess what I might be trying to ask is, what do you personally believe (or even practice, if that isn't too personal and without details) as to the whole "night of the wedding" or honeymoon thing? If you don't want "risk" impregnation on your honeymoon and have a baby 9 months later, but also know the failure rate of birth control and of problems it can cause later down the road, but also realize and appreciate the higher purpose of sex is procreation, what do you personally think is acceptable in that situation?

Thank you! I hope that wasn't TMI or asking too many questions.

- Anon

Dear Anon,

I think the only reason parents tell their children stories like that is because they're trying to do some social engineering.  They may be trying to convey the message "don't have sex before you get married because we got pregnant the very first time we had sex" . . . and I certainly understand their motivation in doing so.

My take on when a couple should start having children is, frankly, one big mass of contradictions which I readily admit.  And I think that's because there are some strong arguments to be made for all sides.

Sister Jo and I had lots of kids very quickly.  We struggled emotionally, financially, and in every other -ly you can possibly imagine.

But, like your roommate's parents, not only did it all work out, it worked out well, and we wouldn't go back and do things differently.  Sometimes we look at our friends that are the same age who have fewer and younger children than we do - not the ones that struggled to have children, but the ones that put children (and / or marriage) off for worldly things - and we think how sad it is that they've missed so much and how old they're going to be before they get to know the joys of grandchildren.

I'm in my mid-40's, but I'm still young enough to coach my youngest child's baseball team.  Not sure I'd be doing that if I were 5-10 years (or 15-years) older.

Those that put off children because they're "not prepared" have a HUGE surprise coming:  they'll never "be fully prepared".  No one ever is.  There's no such thing.  (In fact, the parents that often brag about how awesome and prepared they are at "the whole parenting thing" are typically quite horrible, naive . . . and obnoxious.)

Sister Jo and I have reached a point in our lives where we feel the next children in our home should be visiting grandchildren, not our babies.  That's a personal decision, and one that we believe each couple needs to make for themselves.

And yet we're still "fertile".  And . . . "active" . . . so we take certain precautions.  The specifics of that I'll keep personal and private.

As you contemplate birth control as a married couple (and I think soon-to-be-married coupes NEED to have this discussion) there will several factors you want to weigh.

As you've noted, there is no such thing as "100% effective birth control".  Sister Jo and I often conceived while using one (or more!) methods of birth control.  True story.

Sister Jo warns people that one little-known or discussed side-effect of "the pill" is that when a woman decides to stop taking it because she's ready to have a baby that it can (not always for all women, but often) take quite a while before she's able to conceive.

I warn people that all other methods take patience and self control and consistency.

I'll add these two things:

1.  One of the things in the Church Handbook (at least the last time I looked) that no one seems to know, say, or talk about, is that the Church tells leaders to counsel their members NOT to do anything permanent (like tying tubes or having a vasectomy) unless there's a clear life-saving (not "lifestyle") reason

2.  As much as I'm looking forward to grandchildren, I do think most couples - especially those where either spouse is under 25 - should wait a year (or two, but not more than two) before trying to have children, for exactly the reason you mention.  Those "just us" months go by quickly, they're kind of special, and they don't come back for a very long time (except for Date Nights, which I maintain are REQUIRED for a long and healthy marriage).  Enjoy them.  Just the two of you.  For a short while, anyway.

Please, all of you, don't get married without having this discussion.  It's part of


- Bro Jo


Nancy said...

Very insightful and good to think about. I'm not getting married any time soon, but thought it would be good to bring up this subject. Ladies, there are medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome that is treated with birth control hormones, not only to regulate the body's natural hormone production, but to protect your health, because complications like diabetes/ insulin resistance, depression, and infertility could occur if untreated. And cysts really, really, really, really hurt. But with stuff like that, you should be consulting your doctor for treatment, and ask them about how to go about such things when you do become active and plan to have family. And you should prayerfully turn to God and ask him to guide your health provider overseeing your care so you can be healthy and strong.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has an oppinion about when you should start your family, how many kids you should have, etc. The most important thing you can do is to stay close to your spouse, and to stay close with the Lord!! Only his opinion matters! When my husband and I got married 2 years ago we both wanted kids, but neither of us felt a pressing urge to do so. Eventually the topic came up more and more and we began to think and to pray about it, and eventually decided to 'stop preventing.' We got pregnant the first month we tried (2 weeks after stopping 'the pill') and are expecting our baby boy any day now!

Contrast that to a friend of mine who, along with her husband, felt the need and the desire to start trying right away, and it took them about a year to conceive. the Lord knows what we need, based on our bodies, our situations, and HIS timing!!

Also, to say a word on the orig. post a week or two ago, it is SO important for couples to have intimacy in marriage just to feel close to each other. If my husband and I didn't have sex until the Lord confirmed our desire to have a baby (again, over a YEAR after we got married) our relationship would have felt so casual up to that point. A sexless marriage is a marriage that is destined to fail imho.

Anonymous said...

If you're really want to know about specific methods of birth control before getting married (or becoming sexually active) please make an appointment with an OB to discuss your options. Different things work differently for different women and your mom or sister, however well-meaning, will not necessarily react the same way you do the a specific method.

Additionally, too many women suffer poor side effects because they aren't willing to consider their options. If you are using a particular method and it isn't working for you, keep talking to your doctor until you find the best fit.

I waited until I was married for 4 years before my husband and I felt the time was right and used several methods successfully. We conceived a few months after going off birth control. Not all methods are successful all the time, but if used correctly, it can be easy to plan pregnancies.

J-Dawg Fluffy said...

I was curious about how effective hormonal birth control is, so I finally got around to asking Dr. Baker, the pharmacology professor here at BYU-I. He said if it's taken properly, it's 95-99% effective, and most people who get pregnant while on "the pill" aren't taking it properly. Depending on the type, it can actually be a very stringent task. My Wife has to take hers within an hour of the same time every day.