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When & how to observe onot on Pill

9 June, 2013

Question:

I'm fairly newly married and am confused about onah. I'm worried that I'm missing something… since I am taking birth control, my understanding is that my onah period is once a month, corresponding to the day or night in which I got my period last month. Is that correct?

And then as for how I "observe" it, it's a time during which my husband and I can still touch and can even hug and give each other kisses hello and goodbye and can even cuddle in bed and can sleep on the same bed without separating them, but we can't be together sexually. If the onah passes and my period still hasn't come, then I should do a bedikah before we intend to be together sexually, if we do (which we generally don't). Is that all there is to it, or am I missing something?

Many thanks.


Answer:

Mazal tov on your recent wedding!

There are different opinions regarding observance of onot when taking hormonal contraception.  (For more information, see Vesatot and Hormonal Treatments.)  Your understanding of when to observe an onah is a legitimate opinion.  However, we typically advise women on hormonal contraception to continue observing onot perishah even if that initial onah passes without a blood flow, for up to three consecutive days.  If three days pass, we assume she has skipped her period.  She may then resume relations without any additional bedikah.

Regarding standard practice during the onat perishah, sexual relations are prohibited and a couple should also refrain from overtly sexual touch.  Casual touch is fully permissible.  There are different opinions and customs regarding affectionate touch of a non-sexual nature, such as some types of hugging and kissing.  While stringency here is praiseworthy, the needs of the specific couple play a large role in determining conduct in this area.  Whether a cuddle is permissible for a couple likewise depends on the couple's assessment and needs, whether it is more relaxation-oriented or more sexually affectionate.  But stringency would be valued.

Sleeping in the same bed may be technically permissible on an onat veset, but many halachic authorities strongly discourage it.

An additional requirement during an onah is performing at least one bedikah.  There are varying opinions about the number of bedikot one performs during an onah. Some say only one bedikah at any point during the onah is required (and this viewpoint may be readily relied on), although there are opinions that require two (one at the beginning of the onah, and another at the end) or even three (beginning, middle and end). Some authorities maintain that a bedikah right after the onah is also sufficient.

When a woman neglects to perform a bedikah on her onah beinonit or veset kavua, she may not resume relations until she has performed a bedikah.  In other cases of forgetting, no bedikah is required subsequent to the onat perishah. A couple should use common sense in deciding whether to have relations at that point.

Please write back with any further questions.


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