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Declaring niddah status with brown discharge

17 December, 2015

Question:

I have a complicated counting question:

Last night (Saturday shortly before havdalah), I accidentally looked at my diaphragm while washing it, and I saw out of the corner of my eye a brownish tan discharge. I told my husband that I was unsure if I was a niddah because from what I saw for the millisecond before the water washed it away, that color on a bedikah would probably be fine. We separated anyway (not harchakot, but abstained from relations) without me declaring myself niddah so I could look it up today (Sunday). But this afternoon I felt what I thought was my period while on the toilet, so I felt it with my hand and saw lots of brown discharge and decided to just do a bedikah (revealed lots of brown but no red) and declare myself a niddah, even though it may be an ok color if I asked a shailah.

My actual flow may not start for a day or more now. I know I'm halachically a niddah now and must count the minimum 5 days (though if my flow doesn't start soon, I know it will be longer till I can get a clean hefsek)… but my biggest question is what date do I enter in my mikvah calendar for start of period in order to determine vestot for next month? Did I mess everything up by declaring early?

Thanks so much for any clarity you can provide.


Answer:

A light brown or tan discharge with no hint of a reddish tint does not make a woman niddah, even if found on a bedikah cloth or on a diaphragm.  If you still have the bedikah cloth, we suggest that you ask about the brown on it and about your status, since there are some cases in which a woman declaring herself niddah in error is not binding.  Since vesatot are calculated based on the onset of bloodflow that has a niddah shade, the rabbi's assessment of the brown flow you have would also determine whether that forms the basis of your next veset calculations or some subsequent bloodflow does.

For future reference, please note that blood found on a diaphragm can make a woman niddah, as we typically treat a diaphragm similarly to an internal bedikah.  Blood found on the hand is treated stringently, especially when the hand has passed directly under the genital area.  Declaring oneself niddah generally does have the effect of making one niddah.  Therefore, to minimize halachic questions, we typically recommend not looking at the diaphragm before it is washed and/ or washing it in very dim light, we do not recommend performing bedikot when they are not halachically required or feeling for discharge with the hand, and we do recommend consulting with a halachic authority before declaring oneself niddah.

When a woman suspects her menstrual flow has begun, we suggest waiting at least fifteen seconds after urinating and then wiping externally with toilet tissue.  That way, whatever is found on the toilet tissue will have the status of staining, to which different leniencies apply.  (For more details, please see our site's articles "Ketamim" and "Toilet Paper".)

Please write back with any follow-up questions.


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