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

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Contraceptive sponge

22 September, 2019

Question:

Hi, I would like to know if the spermicidal sponge is a valid method of birth control that is halachically permitted. The rabbi that my husband asked said that, since the penis comes in contact with it, it’s not allowed halachically. But I read that it’s a better form of birth control than just regular gel spermicide. I wanted to use it as a temporary birth control method while I am nursing. Not interested in IUD or hormonal BC nor the diaphragm since it kills spontaneity. Thanks.


Answer:

Rav Yehuda Henkin, the rabbinic supervisor of this site, does permit the use of the contraceptive sponge since it does not prevent sperm from entering the vaginal canal (as a condom does), and does not interfere with normal relations (although it is not inserted as deeply in the vagina as a diaphragm).

As you have already encountered, this second point is subject to halachic dispute. Some halachic decisors are strict about barrier methods that take up a greater presence in the vaginal canal.

While the sponge is not a highly effective method of contraception (and is even less effective for a woman who already has children), if you are fully nursing, and your baby is under 6 months old, and you have not yet resumed menstruation, you are naturally protected against pregnancy to a reasonable degree. See our article on the Lactational Amenorrhea Method for more details. Using the sponge, or spermicide, (especially VCF which is somewhat more effective than other types of spermicide) as a backup method offers an additional level of protection.

The diaphgram can be placed up to one hour in advance of relations, allowing for some degree of spontaneity. The sponge and other spermicides also need to be inserted in advance of relations, so it is unclear why they are a better option from that point of view. The combination of diaphragm and spermicide is significantly more effective than the sponge or spermicide alone.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.

B’Hatzlacha!


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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