Temporary use of condoms
21 November, 2018
I am currently 24 years old and married. My husband and I have received rabbinic permission for contraception while I complete my academic program, which is challenging and time-sensitive. We plan to start trying for a pregnancy in about six months.
My question is in regards to contraception. I am currently on the contraceptive pill, Zoely, before this I was on microgynon and was experiencing breakthrough bleeding. Since being on Zoely for the last 1.5 years I have experienced vaginal dryness and dyspaurenia, as well as a loss of libido. I am not comfortable being on hormonal contraception and would ideally want to use the Fertility Awareness Method covering with condoms on my fertile days. Although, given that at the start of our marriage we were not planning to fall pregnant straight away, I knew that the OCP was a more reliable method.
Hoping to BH start trying to fall pregnant in 6 months time, I want to ensure that my cycles are regulated naturally, that I am synthetic hormone free and that I am able to monitor my own cycles to best ensure fertility. In order to do this I would like to start using the FAM but this will require the use of a condom for every time we have sex for at least the first few months/until my cycles are regulated, and then on only my fertile days until mid next year.
I have considered the diaphragm; however, I experience painful sex already due to vaginal dryness and an overactive pelvic floor and I am anxious to therefore use this form. As well, it is not as reliable as condom use and I would not be willing to risk falling pregnant within the next 6 months.
Is there a halachic ground to use condoms temporarily (6 months) where the ultimate aim of use is to ensure optimal fertility when the time comes?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.
We’re sorry to hear about the side effects you’ve experienced with the pill.
Professional treatment can be very effective for dyspareunia and overactive pelvic floor. If you haven’t yet, we recommend consulting your physician and a urogynecological physiotherapist.
Unfortunately, negative side-effects from hormonal contraception such as you describe are fairly common. It definitely makes sense to find a birth control option that will better suit your needs.
If you would like to use FAM, we highly recommend learning it under the guidance of a certified teacher. Although FAM can be highly effective, its efficacy rates are much higher with proper training. If you write back with your location, we can help try to find you a teacher.
We understand why using a condom in conjunction with FAM seems like a good option. However, condoms are only halachically permitted in extremely extenuating circumstances (such as when one spouse is HIV positive). For halachically observant couples using FAM, a diaphragm with spermicide often works well as a back-up method. When fitted properly and used correctly and consistently, the efficacy rate of the diaphragm with spermicide is comparable to that of condoms.
Your conditions might complicate use of a diaphragm. Having it fitted properly, being trained in how to use it, and using a spermicide with some lubricant properties might ease those complications.
Another possibility is a copper IUD. This method has extremely high efficacy rates and does not involve synthetic hormones. While it is usually recommended for women who are looking for birth control for longer than six months, it is an option to consider and discuss with your doctor. If necessary, the IUD can be inserted with anesthesia, so as not to aggravate other conditions.
We hope this helps. Please write back with any further questions. Refuah sheleimah!
This response was updated on 14 November, 2022.
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 yoatzot.org.