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

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21 April, 2005


Are there any halachic issues with using an IUD?


The main drawback to IUD use by women who keep the laws of niddah is that this method is likely to cause extra bleeding. This can either be heavier menses or irregular bleeding. Heavy menses result in additional days of staining before a woman can do a hefsek taharah. Irregular bleeding can cancel out the blood-free days that she has counted so far, leading to prolonged periods of being a niddah, or can make her a niddah again soon after she has immersed in the mikveh.

The exact mechanism of the IUD is still not completely understood. The more recently accepted theory is that at least the copper-containing IUD's prevent fertilization by creating an environment that kills the sperm. This is due to the reaction of the uterus to a foreign body, and prevents living sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes where fertilization takes place. The older theory is that the IUD prevents implantation, i.e., the sperm and ovum unite and begin dividing but the resulting embryo does not become embedded in the uterine lining. This earlier theory is also accurate, but appears to account for only a small minority (about 1%) of cases.

The different theories have implications for the halachic desirability of this form of contraception. If the IUD primarily prevents fertilization by killing sperm, then it presents few halachic problems in a situation where contraception itself is permissible. On the other hand, if the IUD prevents implantation of the fertilized ovum, then the more serious issue of abortion is raised. Many rabbis still consider the IUD to be the method of birth control second in line after hormonal contraception, although controversy does exist.

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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