Pregnancy Can a married Jewish couple have intercourse when the woman is on birth control to avoid pregnancy? What are the opinions of different people?

  • What issue might there be that you think to ask?
    – Double AA
    Nov 22, 2021 at 18:49
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Likely that, if the objective of bi'ah is p'ru ur'vu and the objective of birth control is to make that impossible, perhaps the act of bi'ah becomes an act of hotza'as zera l'vatalah and should therefore be assur.
    – Yehuda
    Nov 24, 2021 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


This is how I opened "The Talk" with my boys. Before getting to the biology and psychology of it, I wanted to frame their relationship with sex in terms of spirituality and holiness.

In Bereishis chapter 1, the only mention of sex (v. 28), is about procreation -- "פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ -- be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and master it".

But in chapter 2 we are introduced to marriage. V. 20 "וּלְאָדָ֕ם לֹֽא־מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ -- but for Adam, no corresponding helper was found." And after Adam meets Chava (v. 26) "עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזׇב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמֹּ֑ו וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתֹּ֔ו וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד -- therefore a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh."

The Torah delineates two functions for sex: two produce children, and to bind a couple together. And so, sex still retains its fundamental value when speaking of a couple that cannot have children, for example the wife is post-menopausal, or they are in a situation where birth control is permitted.

Sex is the means by which a person forms their deepest attachment with someone outside themselves. It is the pivot from living selfishly to imitating G-d in being of benefit to others. It is thus the holiest of holies.

(That addresses your question. As for "The Talk" I then go on to discuss the problems with premarital sex, as it means practicing having sex and trying not to form bond. It is taking a gift from Hashem designed to unify a couple so that they can better build a life and home together, so that we can take the edge off our existential loneliness and weakening its strength. And so on...)

  • "in a situation where birth control is permitted" In a situation where birth control is not permitted, is it really the case that this doesn't apply and each sexual act is an additional violation?
    – Double AA
    Nov 22, 2021 at 19:39
  • Where it is not prohibited, it could be prohibited either because it avoids the asei of פריה ורביה or because of שכבת זרע לבטלה. I am not an expert to say which is when. So I didn't want to write too far in that direction. But in the former case, at least the sex isn't an additional prohibition beyond the use of birth control. And in the latter, yes it would be. Nov 22, 2021 at 19:49
  • @DoubleAA: That previous comment should have read, "In cases where it IS prohibited, it could be either because..." Nov 22, 2021 at 21:08
  • the second verse also refers to having children. when are they one flesh? when they have a child
    – user813801
    Nov 22, 2021 at 21:19
  • The mitzva of onah continues after the couple have been mekayem the mitzva of pirya ve'rivya. So to think this is an issur of zera le'vatalah is absurd. One of the mekoros of the chiyuv of onah, which is Lavan's exhortation to Yaakov, occurs after all of the shevatim were born.
    – pcoz
    Nov 22, 2021 at 22:15

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