Long periods & short cycles
As I am leading up to menopause, the length of my period gets longer, (currently 10 days) while the intervals in between get shorter (sometimes a total cycle of 21 days), although there is nothing medically wrong. Consequently there are often only about three days clear for marital relations. Is there any leniency in such a situation, especially if this is causing marital stress?
Thank you for your question.
The changes you describe in your menstrual cycle - a longer period with shorter intervals between cycles - are common among women approaching menopause. This can certainly be troubling for women observing Taharat Hamishpacha. While there is no halachic way to shorten the process of exiting the niddah status, it is important to confirm that you cannot make a hefsek taharah earlier. Sometimes, women delay counting the seven blood-free days, even though they are actually experiencing discharges of a color that would NOT make them niddah or invalidate clean days. Thus, it is crucial to show stains or bedikah cloths to a rabbi to see if there is room for leniency. While this frightens many women, or makes them uncomfortable, the process can be done completely anonymously. This can often shorten the 10 days you describe.
If the stains do in fact make still make you a niddah, hormonal manipulations can be used to shorten the bleeding or to lengthen the interval. You should discuss this with your physician, making clear to him or her that, while you are aware that this is a normal phenomenon, it is a symptom that interferes with your life style and you want help.
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