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

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Dairy ingredients in contraceptive pills

29 September, 2006

Question:

Are any birth control pills dairy? The one I am taking now (brand name: Errin – [norethindrone tablet] ) has two ingredients that seem like it may be dairy:
anhydrous lactose and lactose monohydrate.


Answer:

This question is important to the women using this site.  However, kashrut questions lie outside of our area of direct expertise.  For guidance beyond what we write below, you could contact the OU: www.ou.org/kosher/rebbe.html

On the one hand, lactose is considered a dairy ingredient.  On the other hand, unlike dairy products, a pill is not really eaten. One of the reasons for waiting between meat and milk is that there may be meat left between the teeth. This reason does not apply to birth control pills, since they are not chewed.

In researching this question, we found the following recommendation from Star K: "Almost all products listed in the Approved OB-GYN Prescriptions List contain lactose, a dairy ingredient.  (For individuals who keep cholov Yisroel there may still be various leniencies. In this case, consult a Rav.)  These dairy products may not be taken for one hour after eating meat, however, since they are swallowed and not chewed, they may be taken after waiting only one hour." 

As an alternative to waiting one hour after a meat meal, one possibility is to be in the habit of taking the pills first thing in the morning, when one is less likely to have eaten meat.  Another alternative, allowed by our rabbinical supervisor, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, is to take a pill directly before a meat meal.


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