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

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A bedikah is a self-performed internal examination of the vaginal canal done with a cloth.

bedikah (plural bedikot) is a self-performed internal examination of the vaginal canal done with a cloth.

A woman performs bedikot as part of the process of exiting niddah and on days when she is halachically required to anticipate her period. In order to prevent unnecessary physical irritation or halachic complications, we usually do not recommend performing bedikot when there is no halachic requirement to do so.

The primary function of a bedikah is to check for uterine bleeding. Because blood renders a woman niddah as soon as it exits the uterus and enters the vaginal canal, bedikot are performed internally.

By performing a bedikah during the shivah neki’im (seven clean days), a woman also establishes her awareness of her continued count of the days. We discuss the number of bedikot to perform during the clean days here.

Bedikah Cloth

A woman should perform a bedikah with a bedikah cloth. A bedikah cloth is a soft, white pre-checked 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 clean, soft, white cloth (such as well-washed old cotton underwear or handkerchiefs).

Bedikah cloths are increasingly available for purchase online. We have linked to a few sites that sell them; they can also be found on general sites such as Amazon.

There is no precisely mandated size for a bedikah cloth; it needs to be large enough to cover the finger at least to the second knuckle and small enough that it can easily be maneuvered into the folds of the vagina. A square about 6.5 – 8 cm (2.5 – 3 inches) on a side will generally work well.

If a woman has no bedikah cloths available, she can use any clean, soft, absorbent, white fabric (see above). If necessary, a woman could use a clean area of a white undergarment for a bedikah.

If no white fabric is available, a sturdy white tissue, doubled up, can be used for a bedikah. A bedikah performed with a tissue is valid so long as a woman is able to perform a proper bedikah with the tissue remaining intact.

How to do a Bedikah

Learning to do a bedikah is quite similar to learning how to use a tampon. The entire process should take no more than a minute or two.

  1. 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.
  2. Take a soft, white, cotton cloth – often called a bedikah cloth, a taharah cloth, or an ed – and check it for any stains, specks, or colored threads.
  3. Wrap the cloth around your finger – the index finger is usually the easiest – completely covering it at least to the second knuckle.
  4. Find a comfortable position (see below).
  5. Insert the finger gently into the vaginal canal, as deeply as you comfortably can. 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 clean 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.
  6. Move the finger circumferentially around the vaginal canal, gently touching the sides and checking inside vaginal folds and crevices. Because of the need to touch the folds, a tampon should not be used for doing a bedikah.
  7. Withdraw the cloth and check it in a good light.

A virgin bride before her wedding should be able to do gentle bedikot without breaking the hymen. These bedikot should be done carefully and need not penetrate as deeply as those after marriage. Most women at this stage are able to insert a finger at least until the first knuckle and to rotate it carefully to check all crevices.

Maximizing Comfort

These tips may help a woman maximize the comfort of bedikot. If they do not suffice to resolve discomfort, then we recommend turning to a halachic authority and a medical professional for individualized guidance. Vaginal pain with bedikot sometimes also translates to painful marital relations; when relevant, it’s important to discuss this issue as well, medically and halachically.

  • Use the softest bedikah cloths available, generally those made from cotton knit (t-shirt material). If necessary, you can try pre-washing your bedikah cloths to soften them, or making your own cloths out of soft white undershirts or the like.
  • Find the position that’s most comfortable for you. Putting one leg up on a stool, or crouching down, and using one hand to open the labia (lips of the vagina) and the other to insert the cloth, can help increase the comfort of bedikot. Some women may feel more relaxed lying down on a bed to do the bedikah.
  • If you are feeling anxious and your vaginal muscles are tightening up, you can try techniques that increase relaxation (e.g., deep breathing, listening to music, thinking calming thoughts) to help make bedikot easier.
  • If the vaginal area seems dry, you can dampen the bedikah cloth slightly with water. If this is not sufficient, you can check in with a halachic authority or health care provider about other possibilities. For example, it’s halachically permissible to apply a small amount of water-based vaginal lubricant (available in most pharmacies) to the vaginal area. You should wait about fifteen minutes between applying the lubricant and performing the bedikah.

Evaluating Bedikot

The leniencies of external stains (ketamim) do not apply to internal bedikot. Therefore, even a small amount of niddah blood on a bedikah can make a woman niddah or invalidate her clean days.

However, a bedikah need not be completely clear. Any hue of red, pink, or black, as well as shades of brown that tend towards them, can invalidate a bedikah. Discharge that has no trace of red or pink (e.g., clear, white, yellow, or green) does not invalidate a bedikah. Brown the shade of coffee with milk or lighter, with no hint of red, also does not invalidate a bedikah. Darker shades of brown, or browns with a reddish tint, require evaluation by a halachic authority.

Bedikah cloths are best evaluated in natural sunlight, holding the cloth in the shade rather than in direct sunlight, as colors may appear different in other lighting conditions.

If blood is found on a bedikah cloth, and a woman suspects it is from a cut, wound, or irritation (dam makkah), a halachic authority should be consulted.

This article was updated on 13 March, 2024.

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All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

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