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

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Dam Betulim (Hymenal Bleeding)

The Hymen

The hymen is a thin layer of tissue at the vaginal opening.

The hymen has an opening that allows for menstrual blood to exit and is generally large enough to accommodate a tampon. The hymenal tissue is flexible, and stretches naturally as a girl matures, often stretching open or tearing by the time a woman reaches adulthood.

At first intercourse, the hymen may stretch to the sides and tear slightly, leading to bleeding and sometimes discomfort. However, not all women bleed or experience discomfort. The absence of blood or pain does not indicate that there was no hymen or that a woman had previous sexual activity. If a kallah experiences heavy bleeding or intense pain, she should not hesitate to contact her physician.

In some less common cases, the hymen is unusually thick, or the opening may be very small, divided into several openings, or even absent. This can interfere with menstruation and tampon use, as well as bedikot or sexual relations, and may require the use of dilators, or a medical procedure (hymenectomy or hymenotomy), to address it. Kallot with concerns about their hymens, especially those who have difficulty using tampons or performing bedikot, are encouraged to consult a gynecologist (or urogynecologist).

In any case, clear guidance from well-trained chatan and kallah teachers can provide couples with practical tools to enhance the comfort of their initial sexual experiences. Couples might also find it helpful to consult books listed in our resource section here.

The Halacha of Dam Betulim

The halachic term for hymenal bleeding is dam betulim. Ordinarily, non-uterine bleeding, such as bleeding from the hymen, is considered dam makkah (blood from a wound), which does not make a woman niddah.

Nevertheless, there is a halachic concern that dam niddah might be present along with dam betulim. Therefore, our sages decreed that dam betulim makes a woman niddah after her first act of relations. This is the case even if she does not notice any bleeding, since blood might be mixed in undetected with semen.

When a kallah has previously had vaginal intercourse, or has medically established that she has no hymenal tissue (as is often the case after a hymenectomy), the decree of dam betulim does not apply.

Observing the Decree

Each couple’s initial experience of marital relations is different. Penetration may be partial or complete, and hymenal bleeding may or may not occur.

The couple separate for dam betulim after first relations:

  • If there was complete penetration, even if no blood was seen.
  • If there was only partial penetration, but blood was seen.


There is a range of halachic opinion on how to proceed when there is partial penetration or doubt about the degree of penetration, and no blood was seen. Our site’s Rabbinic Supervisor, Rav Kenneth Auman, follows the view that a couple need not separate in these cases.

Some halachic authorities advise a couple to check for dam betulim, even just by examining the sheets or the kallah wiping externally. We follow the viewpoint that a couple need not look for hymenal bleeding. Some couples may nevertheless prefer to look, to help clarify if they need to separate.

If the couple are not sure of their status, they should consult a halachic authority. A couple should not deliberately engage in partial penetration in an effort to postpone observance of the decree of dam betulim.

Halacha encourages a couple to complete the first act of intercourse normally and unhurriedly, even if they suspect that dam betulim has already begun. Immediately after withdrawal, they separate and observe all the laws of niddah, with two exceptions.

  • The chatan and kallah may sit or lie on each other’s beds—as long as they are not both on the same bed at the same time.
  • Even a kallah whose custom is to wait five minimum days before starting to count the seven clean days waits only four. (If she gets her period before she begins her clean days, she needs to wait the usual minimum five days, starting the count from the day she became niddah from dam betulim.)
  • For some kallot, shortening the minimum days may allow for immersion prior to their next period. In these situations, many Sefardi halachic authorities permit a kallah to clean semen out of the vaginal canal (as with a douche or wipes), to enable her to perform a hefsek taharah immediately without completing a minimum wait. A kallah who chooses to do this should be careful not to irritate the area, which could interfere with its healing.


If a kallah will be using hormones to regulate her cycle before the wedding, she can often plan for the separation of dam betulim to overlap with her menstrual period. See here for details.

Observing this halacha can be challenging, but may have some benefits. In many cases, it allows time for the hymen to heal. It can also be an opportunity for newlyweds to step back from the intensity of their initial sexual encounter to focus on the new emotional intimacy of their married life together.

We encourage couples to view this pause in physical intimacy as only a very brief phase within, God willing, a long and happy marriage.

Relations After the Period of Separation

After a couple have separated once for dam betulim, if they find blood the next time they have relations, they may need to separate again for dam betulim. In theory, this could happen multiple times.

However, we follow the view that it is usually advisable not to check for bleeding following subsequent acts of relations, even externally or on the sheets, to avoid needing to separate again or raising additional halachic questions. We further advise couples to take precautions to avoid becoming niddah following relations, as discussed here, so that blood they may find can be treated leniently as a stain. If there is a large quantity of blood, or if hymenal bleeding is directly observed, a specific halachic question should be asked.

Once a couple has had full relations without needing to separate for dam betulim, we follow the view that later bleeding that can be clearly identified as coming from the hymen may be treated as dam makkah, blood from a wound, and the couple need not separate.

A woman should consult her physician if continued hymenal bleeding is challenging, or if intercourse is consistently painful or difficult.

This page was updated on 31 January, 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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