Women frequently find blood on feminine hygiene products or seek to use them during the clean days. In this article, we review the relevant halachic principles and examine how they apply to various products.
Blood found on an object inserted into the vagina (e.g., a bedikah cloth) is treated stringently, akin to a flow.
Stain vs. Flow
Sometimes, a woman has no hargashah, but is unsure if her discharge amounts halachically to a flow. There is no clearly defined halachic boundary between “staining” and a “flow.” As a rule of thumb, bleeding that is too heavy to be contained by pantyliners, and would require a pad or tampon, is probably a flow that makes a woman niddah.
According to Rabbinic decree, a bloodstain found on clothing or another object can make a woman niddah or invalidate the clean days. However, this is the case only if the stain is found on a white surface that is susceptible to ritual impurity (tumah).
Tampon or Menstrual Cup
Blood found on an object inserted into the vagina is treated stringently. Therefore, if a woman finds blood of a niddah color (i.e., with a reddish, pinkish, or black tint) on a tampon or menstrual cup that was inserted, it generally makes her niddah.
Pantyliners and pads
A stain found on a black or colored pad or pantyliner does not render a woman niddah. This leniency applies to both disposable and reusable products.
We follow the halachic ruling that disposable pantyliners and pads (including disposable pads for urinary incontinence) are not susceptible to ritual impurity, so a stain found on one does not make a woman niddah even if it is white.
On the other hand, reusable cloth pads and pantyliners are susceptible to ritual impurity. Therefore, if a cloth pad or liner is white, a stain found on it can make a woman niddah (depending on the factors discussed here). Off-white (e.g., undyed cotton) counts as white for this purpose.
This type of underwear is more absorbent than a usual pantyliner, so in determining whether she has a stain or flow, a woman should make an effort to estimate if bloody discharge that she finds on it is of a quantity that could be contained by a liner.
A stain found on any black or colored garment, including undergarments designed to absorb menstrual flow, does not make a woman niddah.
Some authorities treat stains on synthetic fabrics leniently, even if they are white, because synthetics arguably are not susceptible to ritual impurity.
If period underwear includes natural fabrics or threads and is white, then a stain found on it may make a woman niddah (again, depending on the factors discussed here).
A woman who wishes to avoid becoming niddah from staining should wear disposable pantyliners, colored reusable pantyliners, or colored underwear (including period underwear). She should refrain from inserting a tampon or menstrual cup unless she is certain that her menses have begun.
Shivah Neki’im (Seven Clean Days)
During the shivah neki’im, a woman wears clean white undergarments specifically to confirm the absence of bleeding. Under ordinary circumstances, it is preferable to avoid wearing disposable pantyliners during the clean days, so as to allow any stains to be evaluated.
Pantyliners for comfort
If a woman experiences discomfort from clear discharge during the clean days, it is preferable to wear reusable white cloth pantyliners, which are more halachically similar to white underwear. If these are unavailable or don’t meet her needs, she may wear disposable white pantyliners.
Disposable pads for urinary incontinence are permissible during the clean days.
Staining during the clean days
If a woman has difficulty completing the clean days due to staining, she should consult with a halachic authority about possible leniencies. In some cases, some authorities may recommend that she use disposable pantyliners, and others may recommend colored underwear.
When a woman finds a stain of a niddah color, larger than a gris, on a white disposable pad or pantyliner during the clean days, there is dispute as to how she should conduct herself. Some authorities require her to perform a bedikah to check for bleeding. We follow the position that a woman need not perform a bedikah in this situation.