Please read the article on Ketamim (stains) for an overview of the theoretical concepts referred to in this article.
The most common staining questions arise when a woman finds blood on toilet paper. The easiest way to avoid such questions is to avoid looking at toilet paper. There is no obligation to look at toilet paper, and the best strategy is not to do so! If a woman does look, sees red staining, she needs to ask a specific halachic question about her status. She can ask a question even if she has already discarded the toilet paper.
The answer will depend on several factors:
Is she Ashkenazi or Sephardi?
Sephardic authorities generally rule that blood on toilet paper does not make one niddah. For Ashkenazim, the issue is more complicated and the ruling will depend on the following two questions:
Is toilet paper susceptible to ritual impurity (mekabel tumah)?
This is a matter of debate among contemporary authorities. Some maintain that toilet paper is susceptible to ritual impurity. According to these rabbis, any stain larger than a gris (about the size of a U.S. dime or an Israeli shekel) makes one niddah. They may be more lenient if the toilet paper is colored rather than white. Authorities who do not consider toilet paper susceptible to ritual impurity may still consider a stain on toilet paper problematic if a woman wipes herself immediately after urination.
How soon after urinating did she wipe herself?
- If a woman wiped within 15 seconds of urinating, then we suspect that the sensation of urinating may have masked a hargashah. In that case, a stain on toilet paper would make her niddah even if it is smaller than a gris.
- If she wiped more than 15 seconds after urinating, then there is no concern about hargashah. She is niddah only if the stain is larger than a gris and her rabbi rules that toilet paper is susceptible to ritual impurity.
There is a range of opinions among contemporary authorities as to whether and for how long one needs to wait before wiping in order to be lenient. Some rabbis do not require any delay; others require a minute or more.
There is a similar debate about whether feminine hygiene pads are susceptible to ritual impurity. But according to most authorities, a stain on a colored feminine hygiene pad would not make one niddah, so black pantyliners are a good practical solution. (These seem to go on and off the market and, as of this writing, are more likely to be available in Israel. They are intermittently available through the Mikvah Mall at www.mikvah.org.) Note that a real flow of blood makes one niddah whether or not it meets the conditions for stains. Therefore, using black pads during a menstrual period or when experiencing heavy staining will not prevent one from becoming niddah.
Please see the section on Bleeding from Trauma (Dam Makkah) for a discussion of the laws that apply when a woman suspects that the source of bleeding is non-uterine.