Theory of Seasonale
11 November, 2004
There is a new form of contraceptive pill on the market – one which lets a woman have only four periods a year. The most common one, and the one that I have seen advertised, is called Seasonale. I am aware that this form of contraception has not been around for very long and that long-term studies are required to determine its safety and effectiveness. I am also aware that there are potential problems with spotting here – the pill apparently causes spotting in many women. But overall, theoretically speaking, what is the halachic approach to this form of birth control? Is there anything wrong with safely having only four periods a year? Clearly, this would make a woman niddah for only a fraction of the time she generally is, and this has some very exciting implications. Thank you for your time and help, and for your wonderful site.
Thank you for the compliment.
There is no obligation to be niddah – only to observe the relevant halachot when you are. Women who go from pregnancy to nursing to pregnancy can end up being niddah only once every year or two.
The spotting that can occur with prolonged use of hormonal contraception (and our anecdotal experience is that this is fairly common) can sometimes also render a woman niddah. This can create real difficulties, as it is unpredictable and one can end up becoming niddah soon after mikveh use. Therefore, for many women, a monthly predictable period works better.
On the other hand, not all women spot, and there is no way to know how a particular woman will react without trying. Therefore, a woman can decide to try this method. She and her husband should be prepared for a difficult beginning and be willing to give it at least a few months, since spotting does sometimes lessen as the body gets use to the new hormonal milieu.
A woman who tries Seasonale, and finds that it continues to cause spotting, could discuss with her physician the use of a different formulation. The active pills of any combination contraceptive can be extended for longer than the traditional 3 weeks to allow one to become niddah less often. In that case, it often helps to build up slowly (3 weeks the first cycle, 4 weeks the second etc).
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