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

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Harchakot & sexual dysfunction

12 March, 2005


Can you please tell me whether there are any teshuvot that discuss being mekil on harchakot when a couple is dealing with issues of sexual dysfunction. I have an extreme amount of anxiety relating to sexual intercourse. By “raising the bar” a little bit each night by the end of the 2 weeks after I have gone to the mikveh I begin to feel more comfortable and more ready for sexuality. However, then I become a niddah and the cycle starts again – without any intercourse.

We were wondering whether it might be easier to minimize the anxiety if there is a constant basic threshold of touch and physical contact. That way, during the 2 weeks when I am not in niddah, we don’t have to start all over again and the anxiety, aversion, and panic do not come back in full force.

We have been married for 6 years and we have 2 children. However, since my son was born 3 years ago we have had sexual intercourse under 5 times. Before he was born things were not that much better but we kept attributing it to all sorts of issues, i.e., I became pregnant right away after we got married, then we had an infant, then I became pregnant with my second child etc. However, at this point we realize that the cycle has become increasingly more difficult to break and that it is hard to “pin” the anxiety or the sexual aversion on other issues.

We are going to pursue therapy and we will speak to a Rav about the issue if necessary. However, before we begin therapy and before we even approached our rav we wanted to know the issues, become aware of any possible teshuvot that deals with this topic, and do some research to understand the issues. Thank you so much for your time!


We’re sorry to hear of your difficulties.

Unfortunately, we are not aware of any exemptions of the sort you suggest to the laws of harchakot.

We agree with you that therapy would be advisable. Ideally, you would ask any specific halachic questions that arise to a rabbi who knows you and your situation personally. You are also always welcome to get back to us through this site or (for an immediate answer) through our telephone hotline.

Additionally, it might be helpful for you to go on a hormonal contraceptive (under rabbinic and medical guidance) and to take two sets of pills back to back.  That way, you could double the amount of time you are tehorah while you work through this.

If your physician and/or therapist are not familiar with hilchot niddah, you may want to refer them to the section of our website designed for medical professionals, Jewish Women’s Health.


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