Long periods & short cycles
7 November, 2002
As I am leading up to menopause, the length of my period gets longer, (currently 10 days) while the intervals in between get shorter (sometimes a total cycle of 21 days), although there is nothing medically wrong. Consequently there are often only about three days clear for marital relations. Is there any leniency in such a situation, especially if this is causing marital stress?
The changes you describe in your menstrual cycle – a longer period with shorter intervals between cycles – are common among women approaching menopause. This can certainly be troubling for women observing Taharat Hamishpacha.
While there is no halachic way to shorten the process of exiting the niddah status, it is important to confirm that you cannot make a hefsek taharah earlier. Sometimes, women delay counting the seven clean days, even though they are actually experiencing discharges of a color that does not make them niddah or invalidate the clean days. Light brown (the shade of coffee with milk or lighter) with no reddish hue is a permissible color. Stains or bedikah cloths with a questionable color (e.g., darker brown or reddish brown), should be evaluated by a halachic authority to see if there is room for leniency. This can often shorten the 10 days you describe.
If these halachic measures are insufficient, hormonal treatments can sometimes be used to shorten the bleeding or to lengthen the interval. You should discuss this with your physician, making clear to him or her that, while you are aware that this is a normal phenomenon, it is a symptom that interferes with your quality of life and you want help.
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