Staining or flow?
11 November, 2015
I am hoping that you can help clarify this for me.
Lately, due to nursing/hormonal birth control, my period has often started with about 12–24 hours of a light flow ⁄ heavy staining. It is unclear to me whether this should be considered a series of kesamim or whether it is considered an actual flow. I have asked several rabbanim and have been told that I would “know a flow when I saw one” but I apparently do not: (I know that to some extent, this question is a very new one in halachic literature, since we are trying to approximate when a hargasha that I don’t feel would have been felt.)
This question bothers me quite a bit, since if the staining would be considered a kesem, I would like to take advantage of the last few hours of chibuk v’nishuk. On the other hand, if it is a flow, that would be a possible issur D’Oraisa:
(And sometimes I experience heavy staining that does not turn into a flow … does that change anything?)
It would be very helpful if there was some quantifiable quantity that could be used to answer this question; e.g. requires use of a liner or pad but does not soak a pad within X number of hours. Does such a guideline exist?
To add to this question, if this is to be considered a kesem, what should my behavior be during this time period? Should I be careful look to check if it is turning into a flow, or be careful not to look?
Lastly, how does this impact the calculations of vestos?
Thank you so much and tizku limitzvos:
Unfortunately it can be difficult to distinguish between heavy staining and a light flow. There is no specific guideline or quantity of blood to determine whether one is experiencing staining or a flow. One possible (but not set in stone) guideline is that if the bleeding is too heavy to be contained by a pantyliner, and a woman needs to use more significant protection such as a pad, that is likely a flow.
While you are staining, we recommend abstaining from intercourse, but other forms of physical contact are permitted. You are not required to check regularly to see whether the staining is turning into a flow. If the staining takes place around the time you expect your period, it does make sense to check (once or twice a day, or when you go to the bathroom) to see whether it has become a flow. If the staining comes at a time you are not expecting your period (and may or may not turn into a flow) you need not check specifically, and may take precautions against becoming niddah from the staining unless it turns into a flow. See our articles on stains for further details.
Vesatot are calculated from the onset of the flow, even if one was rendered niddah earlier from staining. Therefore, this initial staining does not affect your veset calculations. If you are unsure when the staining definitely turned into a flow, you would calculate your vesatot next month from the earliest point that you are certain you had a flow (even if it might have begun earlier).
Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.
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