Medical intervention for halachic infertility
18 December, 2004
I have recently found your website.
There is something I find difficult to understand. For example the solution offered to a woman who ovulates before mikveh is that she should take clomiphene or estrogen to delay the ovulation. These medications are quite strong as they are manipulating the body's natural hormonal cycle, they also have side effects. I am surprised that the Torah would endanger a woman's health in this way to deal with the problem of early ovulation instead of letting her go to the mikveh a couple days early. (Many women bleed for 6+ days) Also, there is no guarantee that the woman would get pregnant soon after using this medication anyway for several reasons. This means she may have to take it for an extended period of time. I'm surprised and disappointed that this is the only answer Rabbanim can come up with.
Due to the concerns with the health effects of medications, the first advice we give to women on the site is to assure that she really has to be niddah as long as she thinks by asking halachic questions. Many women who "bleed" for longer than five days actually have brownish discharges at the end which may in fact be permissible.
Letting the woman go to the mikveh a few days early is not a simple halachic solution. The Torah defines two separate categories of uterine bleeding, niddah and zivah. According to Torah law, a woman who is a zavah must count seven blood free days (shivah neki'im) prior to being able to immerse in the mikveh. Due to the lack of expertise in certain parts of this area of halacha, we cannot separate between those women who are niddah and could immerse on day seven or those who are zavah and need the shivah neki'im. At the time of the redemption, we hope that this expertise will return and thus it will be possible to differentiate those who are really zavah from those who are not.
Fortunately, halachic and medical strategies have been developed to address some of the difficulties presented by early ovulation. While no medicine is completely risk free, in many cases the benefits of hormonal manipulation outweigh the risk. If a woman is particularly high risk, she should return to her rabbi for further advice as to how to proceed.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.