Catholic opinion about diagnostic means for extracting semen
Well, I think this section could easily host the topic.
The following article appeared last year in an italian catholic newspaper (l'Avvenire), and was quickly copied in many sites (for example here).
It was written by Chiara Navarini, professor of bioethics in a catholic private university (Regina Apostolorum), and tries to answer to this most difficult and embarassing question:
"A catholic may extract his semen through masturbation, if required for diagnostic purposes?"
With all these talks about assisted procreation, due to the revision of guidelines, I take this opportunity to ask for clarification on some issues that make me think.
What is the Catholic Church position on taking semen through masturbation for diagnostic purposes?
This is the answer (it is serious, folks!)
The diagnosis of male fertility through analysis of the seed itself is not immoral. No diagnostic exam is wrong because it's diagnostic; but it can be, due to the reasons for which it is required - es. Eugenic abortion - or for the risks involved.
However, the method of sampling must be moral, and therefore masturbation has to be avoided. Masturbation is a grave moral evil, as separates radically the sexuality from its meaning and sexual pleasure from its specific context (in this case from that conjugal act characterized by a procreative meaning and unitive significance), and as such can never be justified, even for a good end. For it is a good thing, in fact, it is necessary that the means are good, or not immoral, since the end does not justify the means.
As the Instruction ("Donum Vitae" ) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in 1987, "masturbation, normally used to obtain semen, is a […] serious sign of this dissociation [between the two meanings of conjugal ]; even when it is placed in view of procreation, the gesture remains devoid of its unitive meaning "
However, there are other semen extraction means ethically acceptable even in the absence of marriage, such as MESA (Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration, cf. ML Di Pietro-E. Sgreccia, Assisted reproduction and artificial insemination between science, ethics and law, School , Brescia 1999, p. 33). This method requires general anaesthesia and allows to recover sperm that have not, however, completed the first cycle of aging; this limitation requires a further process of capacitation quite complex, to be done in the laboratory).
Another methos has been tried, VIRICAR or electroejaculation (see E. Sgreccia, Handbook of Bioethics, Vol., Life and Thought, Milan, 1999, pp. 431-439); it stimulates the emission of semen (with more mature spermatozoa therefore) without causing orgasm, but it's ability to spread, because of high costs and uncertainties of application, is not good.
Another method morally allowed consists in picking up semen after involuntary pollution (see ibid), but it is of difficult execution.
In fact, the drawbacks of such advanced techniques are due to a fundamentally hedonistic mentality, which sees no evil in masturbation, even more so when due to diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Obtaining semen through masturbation represents an easy, economical and efficient solution, often not even called into question. But we can not deny that is also psychologically, as well as ethically, problematic for men, which sometimes waive the diagnosis precisely because of the humiliation and squalor that procurements of semen entails.
It should also be said that these investigations diagnostic means, outside - but often even within - the marriage, cause an incorrect idea of openness to life, and a consequent trend clearly targeted towards artificial insemination.
For spouses - or in the presence of "sexual activity" - the collection of semen can be obtained during a conjugal relationship, through semen collection at the bottom of the vagina, where residue remains [after the sexual act], together with bladder urine (treated with antacid solution) in the case of retrograde ejaculation (ibid.). During the relationship il could also be used a drilled condom, in order to retain the semen without suggesting an act of contraception (with drilled condom a possible natural conception is possible).
Of course you can also use a normal condom, or you could use a coitus interruptus, with immediate collection of semen in sterile capsules, but in these cases we would again use a morally illicit type of contraceptive, which separates the coniugal act from his procreative significance.