Second Session - Male Infertility - Halachic Questions

Question posed by:       Representative from the Audience

Response by:                Rabbi Shlomo Daichovsky

                                    Supreme Rabbinical Court, Jerusalem

1.  In a case where the patient is infertile due to a blockage in the epididymis or vas deferens (henceforth referred to as the vasa), but whose testes are producing sperm cells, the recommended treatment is to deal with the blocked vas surgically. The operation involves severing the vas on both sides of the blockage and rejoining it. In the light of the laws of petsua dakka, what is the halachic position regarding performing the operation when:

(a) the operation is to be performed inside the pelvis?

(b) the operation is to be performed in the scrotum?

2.  Where a problem of infertility arises and the problem is believed to be with the male and it is decided to perform a spermogram (sperm test), the tests can be made in one of two ways:

     (a) A simple sperm test initially, and a complex one only if necessary.

     The advantage is that it costs the patient less, with a possibility that no further tests will be necessary.

     The disadvantage is that some of those tested will need to have a larger number of tests requiring additional collection of sperm.

     (b) To start the examination with a comprehensive series of tests on one sperm sample.

     Here the advantage is that the number of tests required by some of the patients will be fewer requiring fewer sperm collections.

     The disadvantage is the very high cost of comprehensive testing.

     What is the correct approach according to halacha?

3.  Some young men are sterile as a result of erectile dysfunction (impotence). Today such people can be treated by injecting vaso-active medication into the corpora cavernosa of the penis. Some of these men need to inject themselves on each occasion before intercourse. May the injection be performed on the Sabbath?

     (Relevant issues are the duty to one's wife of intercourse, the duty of reproduction and the rabbinical extension of the ban on pounding ingredients on the Sabbath.)