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What leniencies are available for women who ovulate before mikvah night (due to shorter than average cycles), and therefore most likely cannot get pregnant while following the laws of taharas hamishpacha?

The only one I am aware of is counting starting to start counting the 7 days after 4 days from the beginning of the period (if indeed the period only lasts 4 days or less), so the total time between period onset and immersion is 11 days instead of 12 days. However, this shift of one day is not always enough to ensure that ovulation occurs after immersion.

I've heard of a leniency that involves counting 4 (or 5) days of the period starting from the last intercourse before the period began, rather than from the actual period onset. However, I was told "we don't rely on this." Is this leniency acceptable to some poskim? Are there other leniencies in this situation?

(I am aware that some women take hormones to delay ovulation in this circumstance, but that is not an option for everyone.)

  • The vast majority of the time this is easily dealt with with nowadays with some hormones. See an REI asap (especially because such short cycles are not always but often enough indicative of some other underlying issue) – Double AA Jan 30 at 1:51
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    Frankly in any case where hormones aren't an option there's going to be something else going causing that that warrants seeing an REI. I want people who come here to realize that a) please seek medical attention and b) even if you don't see lots of leniencies below, that's not because Judaism doesn't care about these people but that this is an issue that is not wreaking havoc in Jewish communities anymore to generally require major leniencies. – Double AA Jan 30 at 1:59
  • Yes, but sometimes women just aren't willing to use the hormones...some people are open to getting pregnant (again) naturally but don't feel strongly enough about it to seek medical intervention. It may not be wreaking havoc but some people naturally have very short periods and need to know what can be done... – Kordovero Jan 30 at 2:09
  • They know what can be done and are choosing to not do it. That's their choice and halakha respects that. – Double AA Jan 30 at 2:10
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    For a women with such a short cycle that she couldn't make it to the Mik, Minchas Yitzchok allowed her to fly ahead into a place where night already fell so could be yotzeh all her days. – user6591 Jan 30 at 2:22
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According to Rabbi Chaim Jachter:

Many Halachic authorities permit an early Hefseik Taharah (before five days have passed since the bleeding began) in such circumstances. These authorities include Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (reported by Rav Yosef Adler), Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Y.D. 4:17:22), and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Taharat HaBayit 2:416). These authorities believe that the custom to wait five days (or four days for Sephardim according to Rav Ovadia Yosef) from the start of the bleeding before beginning to count the seven clean days may be waived (under certain conditions) in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Peru URevu. We treat a custom with significantly less stringency than a rabbinical prohibition. This approach helps solve the problem in some cases.

Many Poskim also permit artificial insemination using the husband's genetic material before the wife has immersed in the Mikvah. These authorities include Rav Ovadia Yosef (Taharat HaBayit 1:29), Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Even Haezer 2:18), and Rav Zvi Pesach Frank (an oral tradition reported by Rav Ovadia Yosef ibid). Rav Ovadia and Rav Moshe write that the child will not bear the stigma of a Ben Niddah if it is conceived in this manner. It is important to note that many Poskim strongly urge that this process be performed under strict rabbinical supervision to insure that no tampering or mistakes are made in the process.

Another option might be for an especially competent doctor to prescribe medicine that will adjust her cycle to avoid this problem. Care must be taken to insure that this process does not impinge on the wife's health.

Postscript - Machon Puah

Moreover, it is very important to bring to the community's attention a most wonderful resource for the Jewish People throughout the world. Machon Puah in Jerusalem provides Halachic guidance to couples that are experiencing difficulties conceiving a child. They employ rabbis who are available full-time to respond in a variety of languages to questions regarding the interface of Halacha and fertility. Moreover, they are at the forefront of offering rabbinical supervision of fertility procedures. It is highly worthwhile for rabbis and laypeople to consult with Machon Puah in case of need. For more information one may visit their website at www.puah.org.il (click “English” for the English section of the website).

Also, a postscript from Nishmat:

Both halacha and medicine are case-based, and treatments and rulings reflect the nuances of each individual situation. Therefore, in practice, we strongly recommend that every couple affected by halachic infertility consult directly with a rabbi and a physician who have expertise in this field.

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  • Thank you--this is a very helpful answer. I have a question about the first paragraph. Does that mean women may be able to start counting the 7 days after just 2 or 3 days, if the period actually ends in such a short time? Just wanted to make sure I understand. (Of course, as in any question on this site, people should consult their LOR before proceeding...) – Kordovero Jan 30 at 12:34
  • That is my understanding. – Loewian Jan 30 at 15:18

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