Following my last post on Jewish married life, I received a question from a reader, asking me what happens if the woman ovulates early, during the period when she cannot be intimate with her husband - thus causing the couple to miss ovulation and reducing or eliminating their chances to have children.
Normally, the cycle of separation and reunion in physical intimacy should enhance the couple's chances to have children: the first, most filled with passion, days of the couple being back together should fall right around the time when the woman ovulates - 12-14 days after the beginning of her period. That's indeed what happens most of the time.
However, there are cases when the woman's period is long, and the ovulation happens early; there are also cases when a woman might experience staining during the seven days after her period ends, forcing her to start the count again. Or sometimes a woman's periods are simply very irregular. This might make the couple miss out on ovulation, and cause difficulties in having children.
The first thing to determine is whether a woman rightly considers herself forbidden to her husband for the length of the period they separate. Not every stain is enough to render the woman impure; sometimes, a woman might mistakenly consider the stains at the last couple of days of her period as equal to bleeding, when in fact it isn't so, and a rabbi's counsel can tell her that.
However, if it turns out that relations are indeed forbidden, no rabbi could give permission to resume them before the right time of purification. In the past, all a woman could do was pray to God to alter her monthly cycle in a way that would permit her to have children. After all, we must remember He makes no mistakes, and if He set the woman's cycle the way He did, without allowing for the means to change it, maybe having children just wasn't in His plan for that particular couple.
Today, with the advances of medicine, it is possible to know just when the woman ovulates, and it is also possible to stabilize her cycle and alter her ovulation with the help of certain medications. I never researched deep into the matter, but I know there are doctors who specialize in this problem of Jewish women. So today, with the knowledge God chose to reveal to us, this problem can usually be solved.
P.S.: Due to several responses I received, I feel the need to clarify: the only reason I approached this topic in the first place was because many readers asked me questions about it and expressed sincere interest. What I gave here is a short, generalized description of married life in a Jewish home. A detail I forgot to mention: Orthodox Jews usually sleep in two beds that are joined together when it can be done, and moved slightly apart at the appropriate time of the month.
My purpose is not to convince you to follow Jewish practices if you aren't Jewish. I never said that only Orthodox Jews have good marriages, or that it's impossible to enjoy your physical relationship with your husband if you are permitted to each other all the time. There are also periods in the life of a Jewish couple when husband and wife are permitted for an extended time, for example when the wife is pregnant. When a woman reaches a post-menopausal stage, physical contact is naturally permitted all the time as well.
Abstaining because husband and wife aren't permitted to each other is not like depriving each other of physical intimacy when there is no justified reason to do so. The latter often signifies rejection and is deeply offensive; the former doesn't mean lack of affection or desire, just like being on a trip away from your spouse doesn't mean there is lack of desire. We consider it a sin if a husband deprives his wife, or a wife deprives her husband, when they are permitted to one another!.. There is no such thing as remaining celibate for spiritual reasons in Judaism.
A woman during "that time of the month" doesn't become an outcast. Her relationship with her husband doesn't include physical contact, but they can still talk, laugh together, support each other, and be beloved friends, while anticipating the time when they can get back together. A woman doesn't and shouldn't stay away from other women; she doesn't "spread" her condition, she doesn't carry a sign saying "impure", and in fact, no one but her husband is supposed to know which time of her cycle she is currently at. It is all between her husband, herself, and God Almighty.
Finally, for obvious reasons, I decided to leave myself and my husband out of the discussion, and only talk about general principles.
This "P.S." grew longer than I expected, so I will finish. Take this simply as a glimpse into another culture. I could spend hours shouting myself hoarse about why ritual impurity doesn't equal "dirty", "shameful" or "humiliating", but currently I have no time to do so. I can only tell you this: I'm a married Orthodox Jewish woman, and I'm blissfully happy. I feel loved, cherished, respected, and desired. I'm blessed with countless privileges and feel my rights are taken care of, by God's Law.