Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Reliable non-hormonal methods

22 January, 2006

Question:

Baruch HaShem, after some infertility struggles and a surprise pregnancy, I have recently given birth to my 4th baby in less than 4 years. As you might imagine, I am looking for some advice on birth control now. I have been advised not to use the pill due to the risks associated with it. I have been on it in the past and I also do not react well to it (mood swings and such) What other options are there? My (frum) doctor recommended the diaphragm, but I was under the impression this was not allowed, as it is a barrier method. I cannot use natural family planning, as I do not get regular periods and I was trying NFP when I got pregnant with surprise baby #4. Any advice or guidance is appreciated. Additionally, I wanted to thank you again for this wonderful resource. I have asked you questions in the past and I have always received very informed and kind answers.


Answer:

Mazal tov!

In a situation where reliable contraception is important and hormonal contraceptives cannot be used, the major halachic options are the IUD and the diaphragm.  The IUD comes in two varieties: regular or hormone secreting.  The former often involves some staining or slightly prolonged periods; the latter typically leads to months (up to six) of staining, followed by no menstruation whatsoever. The former IUD is about 98% reliable, the latter (as it combines both and IUD and a hormone) 99%. The diaphragm, when used correctly and used with spermicide gel, is about 98% effective. It does, however, have to be inserted prior to each episode of marital relations (up to one hour before). 

Many halachic decisors, particularly in Israel, prefer the IUD because it is not a barrier method.  However, there are rabbis who permit the diaphragm.  They reason, in part, that although it is a barrier, its location does not interfere with the physical sensations of intercourse. This site follows the halachic rulings of Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin who generally permits the diaphragm in accordance with the approach of his grandfather, R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin z"l. 

Please ask your local rabbi as to the appropriate method in your particular case. If you do not have rav to whom you can turn, please get back to us stating that you are interested in a halachic ruling.


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.

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