A knowledgeable, caring attitude towards your patients, who will come from all over the world with differing religious views and sexual lifestyles means you need an open mind, often putting your own opinions and beliefs to one side.

Today, sex and relationships therapist Emma Ziff advises on contraception and religion.

Come back each day this week as we delve further into the interplay between sex and religion.

Contraception and religion

Many clients will be in a dichotomy about how to be true to their faith and yet look after themselves with contraception. The religious stances are as follows:

  • Church of England and Anglican are mostly accepting of contraception, although some may feel the need to meet a priest or much prayer before deciding what is right for them.
  • Catholicism most fervently stands strong against contraception, which means no drugs, devices like condoms or surgical procedures can be used and carried out. It does allow for natural family planning. As a pharmacist understanding a woman’s cycle would be useful to explain about abstaining from sexual intercourse during her most fertile times. The rhythm method is calendar based and often taught to also help couples to not become pregnant during sex. There is the term Fertility Awareness, this is when women will go in to much more detail about their bodies to know if they are more or less fertile, based on basal body temperature and cervical mucus. These methods are obviously not fool proof but important for religious couples.
  • Buddhism: it is acceptable for a Buddhist to use contraception, as they believe conception occurs when the egg is fertilised. Emergency contraception may be an issue. Still it is all down to interpretation and compassion towards others.
  • Hinduism: contraceptive methods are acceptable, however, many will not use it until they have bore a son.
  • Islam: contraception is permissible, especially to space childbearing to make sure other children are weaned off first and healthy. It is also permissable if there is fear of the physical and mental wellbeing of a mother and “for personal reasons dictated by conscience”. Female sterilisation may be permissible if the woman’s life would be in danger if pregnant. What is not permissible is a vasectomy.
  • Judaism: Jewish law states that a man may not use any form of contraception, however, any mention of a woman was omitted so some believe contraception is acceptable. The pill has been used as it is oral and no physical impediment has therefore been used. Contraception may definitely be used if there are physical or psychological health risks.
  • Sikhism: contraception is acceptable as there is no religious guidance on this.

Perspectives on abortion also vary across the religions, join us tomorrow to find out more.