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

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Contraceptive pills to treat premenstrual depression

4 May, 2017

Question:

Thank you for this great website:

I was prescribed hormonal birth control when I was still single, to treat my periods –– they were very painful and I also experienced heavy depression, anxiety, and mood swings in the days leading up to my period and the first few days of my period. On birth control, my periods are less painful, and my mood is more stable. I still get sad and tearful in my cycle but I'm not depressed the way I was before.

Will I have to go off the birth control after my marriage? My hope is that I will go off the birth control when we want to conceive and then go back on it after each baby's birth, but now I'm worried it's not halachically acceptable.

Also, I know there are anti–depressants that treat premenstrual depression, but they have more severe side effects so I don't want to go on them. I don't know if my doctor/GYN would even suggest one of them instead. Am I required to use a different form of medication to treat my period–related depression, even if it's less effective or has worse side effects? Can I stay on birth control without trying alternatives just because I know the birth control works and I don't know if other medications will work for me?

Thank you again for your wonderful website and for your help.


Answer:

We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.

Indeed, you need not go off contraceptive pills until you are trying to conceive. Since procreation is a mitzvah, there is a halachic question of the permissibility of delaying conception.

Different rabbis give different rulings about contraception at the beginning of marriage.  Rav Yehuda Henkin, our site's halachic supervisor, permits all couples to use contraception for six months after marriage. That permission may be extended for longer periods of time depending on each couple's unique situation.

When you are ready to try to conceive, it will be important for you to consult your physician about alternate options for managing your pre-menstrual symptoms.

Please write back with any follow up questions.


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