A 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.
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.
We do not recommend performing bedikot with surgical cotton, cotton balls, or gauze pads. The first two often contain colored threads and also absorb blood to a degree that it may not be visible. The latter can even lead to bleeding from abrasion. These should only be used if better options are not available
The internal examination known as a bedikah is done as follows. The entire process should take no more than a minute or two.
- 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, 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.
- Find a comfortable position (such as raising one foot on the edge of the toilet or bathtub, sitting on the toilet with legs apart, or squatting).
- Insert the finger gently into the vaginal cana, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Learning to do a bedikah is quite similar to learning how to use a tampon. If the exam is uncomfortable, please consult a halachic authority for guidance. In cases of continued pain, please also consult a medical professional.
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.