Avoiding halachic infertility
31 August, 2004
My letter is more of a cry from the heart than a question. I want to share my personal story and make a point to help others avoid what I went through.
For the past seven years my periods have been getting steadily shorter with ovulation getting earlier and earlier. My four children were born without intervention as the problem was still marginal at the time of the 4th child.
However, a year and a half ago we decided to try and have another baby. I had one halachically fertile cycle soon after that, and conceived immediately. 10 weeks later I miscarried that long yearned for pregnancy. Working through the heartache of that loss was a challenge to the whole family. Compounding the pain ten fold was the growing realization that my chances of having another child were very low with my ovulation consistently happening between days 10-12 in a 23 day cycle.
I thought of myself at the time as a well educated Jewish woman, with a good knowledge of Nidda Halachot. Over the years I had been sending my Edim to the Rav when I was in doubt about my Hefsekim, and reading what I could about “early ovulation“. After the miscarriage my doctor wanted me to go on hormones (to postpone ovulation), which have a negative effect on my health. I tried it anyway, and found that my fertile signs were compromised by the treatment. Then I broke down and contacted a Yoetzet and through her the Rav to ask permission for artificial insemination from my husband.
Our Rav then led me to take a much closer look at my Edim for Hefsek.
He had me send him an Ed on day four of my period and, to my astonishment and disbelief, cleared the Ed. Together with a few more leniencies, I made it to the Mikveh on day 11, and B’H am expecting a child.
I have found out the hard way that I was making a hefsek very late. The Edim I were in doubt about were always cleared. My problem was that IT NEVER OCCURED TO ME TO SEND AN EARLIER ED! I was SO sure that they were not OK!
I think, and my Rav agreed with me, that women are taught to expect a totally white Hefsek and then they raise a question if there is any slight divergence from that, but anything more just gets thrown out.
I have spoken to well educated friends since then, of the five I talked to 2 were experiencing early ovulation!! How many more women are suffering this ache?
I am writing this to ask for your help as educators. Tell women with short cycles, very clearly, that they should be questioning their Hefsek very early in the cycle. Tell them, DON’T throw away a fifth day Ed, even if you are sure it won’t be approved. Better ask, because it may well be cleared!!
DON’T ask women if they are sure they are making the earliest possible Hefsek. OF COURSE they are sure. What they don’t know is that they are not asking the right question. Instead, send them to a Rav with a fifth day Ed. They may find out, like I did, that there is hope for them without medical intervention.
Thank you for being part of a very important project, and thank you for lending an ear.
Thank you very much for sharing this story with us. We couldn’t agree with you more. Asking a woman the right, specific questions can enable a halachic authority to understand her situation most accurately and give her the most correct and effective advice. Often, personalized halachic guidance can make a decisive difference for a woman seeking to conceive. Sometimes the solution for a given woman may require medical intervention, especially since cycles can shorten with age.
Toward this end, women in this type of situation may find it helpful to consult a Yoetzet Halacha Fertility Counselor. (This is a free service, details here.)
This response was updated on 13 December, 2020.
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