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

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Non-hormonal contraceptive options

3 January, 2005

Question:

I am in my early 20's. I've been married for a few years and have a baby. I want to use birth control now – but I am afraid of the effects it might have on me ( health wise) in the long run. I read a book about the effects of artificial hormones, which basically said that they can give you all sorts of cancer.
I talked to my doctor, she said that the pills are absolutely safe, but if I want – there are other ways of birth control. Some of the options werent for me (for all sorts of reasons) .I am however interested in two methods, and wanted to ask your halachic and general opinion, especially regarding health issues.
1 Taking temperature every day ( to find out when the ovulation takes place)
2 something called "nerot".( do you know what they are and what they do ??)

Is there anything safe, not harmful and ok to use ?
(Please take under consideration that i'm nursing and I'm allergic to "latex" )


Answer:

The truth about hormonal contraceptives is somewhere in the middle of the opinions you have heard. There are real, but very rare, side effects. The decision to use them is one of balancing the risks and benefits.

If there is a halachic reason to permit delaying childbirth at this time, either of the other methods that you mentioned can be used.

Taking temperature is part, but not all, of the fertility awareness method. This method is most effective when learned with a qualified teacher. See the article about this topic on our site for further discussion and contact information for an instructor.

Nerot means vaginal suppositories.  In Israel, this is the most common form in which nonoxynol-9, a spermicide, is available. In other countries, this substance, which works by killing the sperm on contact, also comes in foams, gels and films. The main difficulty with this method is that is only about 85% effective. Thus decisions about its use depend on how critical it is that pregnancy be delayed.

If you are less than six months after childbirth and are exclusively breastfeeding, please also see our article on the lactational amenorrhea method.


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