Halachic Infertility refers to a case where a woman ovulates prior to immersion in the mikveh. Since studies have shown that relations must occur before ovulation in order to result in conception, this “early ovulation” results in infertility. What are the causes of “early ovulation” and what can be done within halacha to treat this issue?
There are two scenarios that result in early ovulation:
On average, a regular menstrual cycle occurs every 28 days and lasts from 2 to 7 days. In most cases, women ovulate 14 days prior to their upcoming menstruation, or on the 14th day of her monthly cycle.
According to halachot of nidda, women cannot immerse in the mikveh until at least 12 days (11 days according to other opinions) from the onset of menstruation.
On average, a woman will therefore immerse (depending on the duration of bleeding) anywhere from the 12th day of her cycle to the 14th day of her cycle. Most women will ovulate after immersion, an optimum time for fertility. Women who have an average 14 day cycle and bleed for a full 7 days will ovulate on the day of immersion, a situation which is considered to be borderline and may result in infertility.
Short cycle infertility is defined as a case where even a woman with the shortest duration of bleeding cannot immerse in the mikveh prior to ovulation. Women whose cycles are 25 days or less will not immerse until at least the 12th day after the onset of monthly bleeding. Since ovulation generally occurs 14 days before the onset of monthly bleeding, we can calculate that ovulation in such cycles will occur on or prior to the 11th day of the monthly cycle. Such women cannot immerse prior to ovulation, which results in infertility.
Women whose cycles are 26 days are considered to be borderline cases; some may ovulate prior to immersion while others may ovulate after immersion, depending on the duration of her bleeding period.
Long bleeding is defined as a case in which either the duration of menstrual bleeding or occurrences of irregular bleeding lead to an inability to immerse in the mikveh prior to ovulation.
Any instance where the duration of bleeding combined with the mandatory minimum 7 day waiting period after the cessation of period leads to immersion after ovulation. For instance, a woman with a 27 day cycle will ovulate on day 13 of her cycle. If her period lasts for 7 days, she will immerse no earlier than day 14.
Please note that a monthly period lasting for longer than 7 days may require medical attention. A physician should be consulted.
The above calculations are explanatory in nature and should not be relied upon to calculate the date of ovulation. There are methods to determine the exact date of ovulation which should be used to determine if religious infertility is indeed the case. If it is determined that a woman is indeed suffering from religious infertility there are methods within halacha to address the situation.
The following solutions are not general in nature. Each case must be evaluated and treated on an individual basis in consultation with a Rabbi or Puah Rabbinic Counselor.