A bedikah is a self-performed internal examination of the vaginal canal done with a cloth.
A bedikah (plural bedikot) is a self-performed internal examination of the vaginal canal done with a cloth.
A woman becomes niddah as soon as blood leaves the uterus and enters the vaginal canal. Therefore, bedikot are performed at certain halachically prescribed times to check for blood even before it exits the body.
A bedikah cloth is a white pre-checked soft cotton cloth also known as a taharah cloth, or an ed. Prepared cloths of this type are generally sold at the mikveh; in Israel they are also available at some pharmacies and supermarkets. They can be prepared at home by cutting up well-washed old white underwear.
While a bedikah can be done with other items, they are less preferable. Surgical cotton or cotton balls often contain small colored threads which can be mistaken for stains. Furthermore, cotton absorbs blood deeply so that a genuine stain may not be visible on the surface. Gauze pads are rough and can scratch the vaginal lining, leading to stains from the abrasion.
The internal examination known as a bedikah is done as follows:
- Wash your hands. Your fingers should be clean, and should have no exposed cuts that could bleed onto the cloth. Watch out for sharp fingernails, as they can scratch during the internal examination.
- Take a soft, white, pre-checked cotton cloth – often called a bedikah cloth, a taharah cloth, or an ed – and check it for any stains, specks, or colored threads.
- Wrap the cloth around your finger - the index finger is usually the easiest - completely covering it at least to the second knuckle. Insert the finger deeply but GENTLY into the vaginal canal as far as the length of your finger will allow. If this is difficult for you, try to go deeply at least for the hefsek taharah examination and for one of the examinations during the seven blood-free days - preferably the first. If this is very painful, however, more stress should be placed on going around the entire vaginal circumference than on depth.
- Move the finger circumferentially around the vaginal canal, GENTLY touching the sides and checking inside the folds and crevices. Because of the need to touch the folds, a tampon should not be used for doing a bedikah.
- Withdraw the cloth and check it in a good light.
If all discharge on the cloth is white, clear, or light yellow, the examination shows no bleeding. If the discharge is bright red, the examination indicates bleeding. Any other color may or may not indicate bleeding, and should be shown to a rabbi.
Learning to do a bedikah is quite similar to learning how to use a tampon. It helps to relax and try a number of positions, such as raising one foot on the edge of the toilet or bathtub, sitting on the toilet with legs apart, or squatting. If the exam is painful, a rabbi or yoetzet should be consulted about using a lubricant.
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