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

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Pills on Yom Kippur

24 September, 2006


Is it permissible to take a birth control pill on Yom Kippur, if it can be swallowed without water? If not, what do you recommend?

Thank you


With regular combination pills, we recommend taking one pill shortly before Yom Kippur, and the next pill shortly after the fast is over. Since they will both be taken within a 26-hour range, they should remain effective after Yom Kippur.

With some formulations, consistent timing is required to avoid spotting or bleeding. For more information, please see our answers regarding progesterone only pills and long term combination pills.

If necessary, an unflavored, unsweetened pill can be swallowed directly without water on Yom Kippur. A sweetened or flavored pill can be wrapped in a kosher gelatin capsule (available at pharmacies), or in some cases crushed and mixed with a bitter substance, and taken on Yom Kippur without water.

If a woman cannot get the pill down without water, she can take it with a small quantity of bitter water. This is often prepared by steeping a cup of water in advance with two bags of a tea, such as chamomile, that tastes bitter when oversteeped.

This response was updated on 18 September, 2023.

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