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

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Hormones for ovulation before mikveh

18 December, 2004

Question:

There is something I find difficult to understand about your website. The solution offered to a woman who ovulates before mikveh is that she should take hormones to delay 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.


Answer:

We appreciate your sharing this question with us.

Indeed, we agree that the first step to addressing halachic problems is to seek halachic solutions, especially since halacha itself takes concerns with the health effects of these medications into account.

The first advice we offer a woman ovulating before mikveh is to check whether she really has to remain in niddah as long as she thinks. Many women with longer menses actually have brownish discharges for a few days at the end, which may in fact be permissible. Often, by asking halachic questions about the hefsek taharah, bedikot, or stains, women can complete their clean days and reach the mikveh days earlier than they had been, and this resolves the issue.

We also encourage women to confirm medically that they are consistently ovulating before mikveh. Ovulation test sticks are generally available over the counter at pharmacies.

Just permitting immersion a few days early across the board, however, 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) before immersing in the mikveh. Due to the lack of expertise in certain aspects of this complex area of halacha, we cannot distinguish between those women who are niddah and could immerse after day seven, and those who are zavah and require shivah neki’im.

Fortunately, halachic and medical strategies have been developed to address some of the difficulties presented by early ovulation. Additionally, in many cases, early ovulation is associated with other medical factors that contribute to difficulty conceiving and that respond to treatment. While no medicine is completely risk free, the benefits of hormonal manipulation may sometimes outweigh the risk. If a woman is particularly high risk, she should return to her physician and halachic authority for further advice as to how to proceed.

To help optimize the solutions offered to women facing these issues, Yoetzet Halacha Fertility Counselor offer free consultations, details here.

This response was updated on 16 December 2020.


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