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

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Spermicide as backup while on antibiotics

23 March, 2005

Question:

I am currently using birth control (yasmin). To fight a bacterial infection, my primary care doctor prescribed antibiotics. She told me that the antibiotics diminish the birth control effect of the pill and advised that I use another form of birth control while taking the antibiotics. I was told by a Rav that the diaphragm and/ or spermicides were the next options. I only need another birth control method temporarily, about 7 days or so. The diaphragm, as I understand, needs to be fitted by a doctor, and thus seems impractical. What are spermicides? Are they a plausible option and how does one go about finding them?


Answer:

Spermicides come in a variety of forms (foams, jellies, suppositories) and are generally available over the counter at the pharmacy.  They are less halachically controversial than the diaphragm.  However, they are also somewhat less effective.  Spermicides alone are about 85% effective (that means out of 100 women using this method, 15 will get pregnant within a year), as opposed to the Pill, which is in the high nineties. However, in your case they are needed only as a backup method and thus it is quite reasonable to use them.


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