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

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Depo provera

1 January, 2003

Question:

1. Is the depo-provera injection an acceptable form of birth control and, if so, can it affect milk supply and can the hormones affect the baby?

2. Is it permissible as a form of birth control to use the injection and the diaphragm? This would be during the first course of hormone treatment to preclude any risk that the shot didn't work. Thank you for your anticipated help.

 


Answer:

Halachically, depo-provera is similar to oral contraceptive pills in its desirability as a method of contraception. However, as a progesterone-only contraceptive method, it is likely to cause irregular spotting. Unlike the progesterone-only pill (the minipill, femulen), which can be stopped if this spotting causes prolonged time in the niddah state, the effect of the depo-provera remains in the body for months. For this reason, you should think twice before embarking on this method. You might discuss with your physician the possibility of trying oral progesterone first to see how your body responds, and THEN, if you are one of those women who do not spot a lot, try the deposition form.

Although progestrone-only contraception does not affect the milk supply for most women (unless it is started within the first week or so after childbirth), there are certainly women who report that it does. This is another reason to consider the oral form of progesterone first to see how your body reacts. Hormones have not been shown to affect nursing babies.

 

Use of the diaphragm as a "back up" method of birth control during the first month requires asking a specific question of a rabbi. The answer would depend on the need for contraception in your particular case. As an alternative, you can use a spermicide cream, foam, or gel. While not very effective (about 85%), these are reasonable to use as a "back up" method.

 


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