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Spotting, Staining, Bleeding: What's the Difference?

Spotting.

Staining.

Bleeding.

Flow.

What is the difference between all of these?


🩸Honestly, not much. They all have subjective meanings. What is one person's “period bleeding” may just be spotting for some and what is a little staining for another woman may be a lot more than they want to tolerate.


🩸”Staining” is more of a halachic term where we use the characteristics of a stain on fabric to determine niddah status or not. It doesn’t imply amount, it’s just when you catch it (meaning if your flow was heavier that day and you caught it earlier or if it was lighter and you could get through the whole day with that size stain). A flow of blood vs. spotting may also determine different halachic status.


🩸A lot of bleeding, heavy, with lots of clots, where you may get lightheaded, dizzy, anemic, etc. Those are all situations that should be looked into from a medical perspective. Do you have a polyp, fibroids, blood clotting disorder? Are you perimenopausal with disordered anovulatory bleeding? Did you just start some type of hormonal treatment or a blood thinner? There are lots of things to take into consideration when discussing the amount of bleeding.


🩸But if it’s light and temporary, it’s usually not very concerning. You can bleed during ovulation, you can bleed from hormonal or some acne medications. You can bleed from non-uterine locations, like the cervix or vagina (usually caused by something irritating the skin layer).


🩸Most every one of these situations is fixable. But the reason it takes some deeper investigation to figure it out is because everyone has a different threshold of what is annoying or frustrating to them, what amount of irregular or unexpected bleeding they can tolerate, or when they will tolerate it.


🩸The best way to describe the bleeding medically is how often you need to change or fill up a menstrual product as it brings some objectivity to the measure.


Halachically, there are also very delineated, objective measures and that’s why they are there- to take away some of the subjective confusion when deciding on a psak (halachic ruling/determination).


🩸Bottom Line: always ask if you are unsure!


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