Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Toilet Paper

Some of the most common niddah questions arise when a woman finds blood on toilet paper. In most cases, questions revolve around whether discharge found on toilet paper can be assessed based on the leniencies of stains (see here for an extensive discussion of these halachot).

However, if a woman sees blood exit her body when wiping, or sees a quantity of blood on toilet paper that would be difficult to contain in a pantyliner, then that would be considered a blood flow that makes her niddah and is not subject to the laws of stains.

There is no obligation to look at toilet paper, so one way to avoid halachic questions is to avoid looking at it. However, sometimes a woman looks inadvertently, or wants to look in order to be aware of what is happening. This is permissible and will not necessarily make her niddah.

If a woman sees discharge of a niddah color, or a questionable color, on toilet paper, then her status depends on the following factors:

Is she Ashkenazi or Sephardi?

Sephardic authorities (with some exceptions) 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 factors below.

How soon after urinating did she wipe herself?

According to Ashkenazi rulings, if a woman wiped within seconds of urinating, then we suspect that the sensation of urinating may have masked a hargashah. In that case, barring other mitigating factors, discharge of a niddah color on toilet paper would make her niddah, regardless of its size.

There is a range of opinions 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. Our founding rabbinic supervisor, Rav Yehuda Henkin z”l, required a wait of about fifteen seconds.

Our current rabbinic supervisor, Rav Kenneth Auman, recommends waiting fifteen seconds after urinating before wiping. However, he maintains that as long as a woman waited at least a few seconds, she may disregard any discharge found on the toilet paper. This is often the case, unless a woman hurried to wipe herself.

What rulings does she follow regarding toilet paper?

Contemporary authorities generally maintain that toilet paper or tissue, which is flimsy and meant to be discarded immediately after use, is not susceptible to ritual impurity (mekabel tumah). Stains found on such a surface are generally treated leniently.

However, there is a range of opinions regarding blood found on toilet paper used to wipe the vaginal area. Some authorities are strict because wiping is somewhat similar to an internal bedikah or for several other reasons. In some cases, rulings may be more lenient if the toilet paper is colored rather than white, or if the stain is smaller than a gris (about the size of a U.S. dime or an Israeli shekel). Again, we follow the opinion that stains on toilet paper may be disregarded if she waited at least a few seconds between urinating and wiping.

What was the color?

Not all colors make a woman niddah, so another relevant factor is the exact shade seen on the paper and the lighting conditions under which it was seen. For example, artificial light can often make colors appear pink or reddish that would not look that way in sunlight.

In some circumstances, a woman may need to ask a halachic question about the color of discharge found on toilet paper. Though retaining the paper allows for more direct and precise evaluation of the shade, a question about color can be asked even if the paper was already discarded.

Was the Discharge Uterine?

A last relevant factor is whether there is another possible explanation for the bleeding. For example, a woman with a urinary tract infection or yeast infection may have bleeding attributable to the infection. So too, a woman might have hemorrhoids or a vaginal lesion to which the bleeding could be attributed. If bleeding is not from the uterus, or can be attributed to a wound, it is considered dam makkah, not dam niddah.

Please see our page on Dam Makkah for a discussion of the laws that apply when a woman suspects that her bleeding is from a non-niddah source.

Other Surfaces

Wipes are treated like toilet paper with respect to these halachot.

Cases in which blood is seen on the toilet bowl or seat, or in the water are generally treated leniently. But when blood is found on any of them within seconds of urinating, and a woman follows Ashkenazi halachic rulings, a question should be asked.

This page was updated on 22 January, 2024.

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