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

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais

Dairy ingredients in contraceptive pills

29 September, 2006


Are any birth control pills dairy? The one I am taking now (brand name: Errin – [norethindrone tablet] ) has two ingredients that seem like it may be dairy:
anhydrous lactose and lactose monohydrate.


This question is important to the women using this site.  However, kashrut questions lie outside of our area of direct expertise.  For guidance beyond what we write below, you could contact the OU:

On the one hand, lactose is considered a dairy ingredient.  On the other hand, unlike dairy products, a pill is not really eaten. One of the reasons for waiting between meat and milk is that there may be meat left between the teeth. This reason does not apply to birth control pills, since they are not chewed.

In researching this question, we found the following recommendation from Star K: "Almost all products listed in the Approved OB-GYN Prescriptions List contain lactose, a dairy ingredient.  (For individuals who keep cholov Yisroel there may still be various leniencies. In this case, consult a Rav.)  These dairy products may not be taken for one hour after eating meat, however, since they are swallowed and not chewed, they may be taken after waiting only one hour." 

As an alternative to waiting one hour after a meat meal, one possibility is to be in the habit of taking the pills first thing in the morning, when one is less likely to have eaten meat.  Another alternative, allowed by our rabbinical supervisor, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, is to take a pill directly before a meat meal.

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.

For further questions or comments: 

The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.

Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under