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All about irregular/abnormal vaginal bleeding (Istihaadah)

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Istihada: What is it?


Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim

by Naielah Ackbarali

Abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada) is invalid blood. Practically speaking, it is any colored vaginal discharge that is not ruled as menstruation (hayd) or lochia (nifas).

Contrary to popular thought, istihada is not a specific color, consistency, or flow. In the Hanafi madhhab, istihada can be any color and any type of flow – even red, heavy bleeding.

The days that a woman experiences istihada are also known as legal purity (ṭuhr hukmi). This means that even though she is seeing blood, she must act like a woman in a state of purity.


The prohibitions that apply to a woman in a state of menstruation and lochia do not apply to a woman who is experiencing istihada.

Thus, a woman with istihada is still required to carry out her obligatory worship despite her vaginal bleeding.

This means that:

  • She must pray her daily obligatory (fard) and witr prayers with ablution (wudu). The blood from istihada is deemed filthy (najas), and its presence on a woman’s clothing could impact the validity of her prayer. For more information on how to pray with istihada, read this article.
  • She must fast if it is Ramadan.
  • She is permitted to recite the Qur’an, touch the Qur’an directly with ablution (wudu), enter a mosque, and perform tawaf with wudu.
  • She is permitted to engage in marital relations – no matter how heavy the flow.


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How do I pray with abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada)?



Question: How do I pray with abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada)?


Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu

A woman who is experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada) is still required to pray with ablution (wudu).

The blood is ruled as filthy (najas), and its presence on the body or clothes could impact the validity of a woman’s prayers if it exceeds the excused amount.

Every woman’s istihada situation will be unique. Some women may see occasional spotting, while others may see a constant flow of blood.

Thus, the rulings related to how a woman will pray are dependent upon:

  • if blood continues to exit her vagina while she is making ablution (wudu) or praying the obligatory prayer;
  • and if it is possible for her to stop the blood flow for this duration.


Spotting in this context means that the bleeding is not a constant flow. Rather, the exiting of vaginal blood happens occasionally. A woman could see sporadic bleeding within the prayer time, or the day, or the month.

Because the bleeding is light and not constant, a woman who sees spotting should be able to wipe away the blood, wash her front private part, make wudu, and pray the obligatory prayer of the time without any bleeding exiting.

If this is the case – that she can successfully complete her wudu and pray the obligatory prayer without blood exiting – then what she has done is sufficient for her prayer to count.

There is no need for her to resort to the excused person’s rulings (ma’dhur), make wudu for every prayer time, and the like. Every time she makes wudu, she keeps the status of ritual purity – unless blood exits her vagina or another wudu nullifier occurs.

Thus, she is treated as a normal person with the rulings related to ritual purity and prayer.

Constant Flow

Constant flow is defined as not having the ability to make wudu and pray the obligatory prayer of the current time without vaginal blood exiting. If this is the case, then the rulings will differ for a virgin and non-virgin.

Women who have never been married will always resort to the excused person’s rulings, providing that they fulfill the conditions for establishing the excuse. For details of how to establish the excuse and what are the excused person’s rulings, click here.

Women who are non-virgins must first try to block the blood flow from exiting the vagina. This is wajib according to many scholars and it is the position of our teachers. There are certain women who may be exempt from this ruling, and their cases are mentioned later in this article.

How To Block Blood Flow

Any manageable action that can be taken to stop the blood flow for the prayer’s validity must be attempted. Past scholars wrote about women doing ‘hashu’ – stuffing – when they experienced istihada. In today’s times, this can easily be achieved with the use of tampons, moon cups, tissue, and the like. Based on her body and circumstance, a woman should choose what is feasible for her situation.

The goal is to stop the blood from exiting in order to maintain ritual purity while she makes wudu and prays. She is only required to block for the duration of her wudu and prayer, and she is not obliged to keep anything inserted in her vagina for the entire day – unless she finds it easier.

If she can successfully complete her wudu and obligatory prayer without bleeding exiting the vagina, then this is sufficient for her prayer to count. Every time she makes wudu, she keeps the status of ritual purity – unless blood exits her vagina or another wudu nullifier occurs.

If bleeding exits while she makes wudu or prays, her wudu is nullified and the prayer is not valid. Additionally, any colored discharge that leaks down the string of a tampon nullifies wudu if the blood reaches the edge of the vaginal opening or beyond it.

How-To: A non-virgin woman with istihada should first wash her front private part and dry herself. Then she inserts a tampon, moon cup, or the like to prevent the flow from exiting.

There are different levels of absorbency for tampons, such as light, normal, and super. A woman should choose whatever works best for her situation. Choosing the right size will ensure better protection from leakage.

It may be helpful to research tips of how to insert tampons or mooncups, as doing it the wrong way may cause unnecessary discomfort. For example, a tampon should be pushed towards the woman’s back because the vaginal canal is slanted, and it should not be pushed upward towards the sky. It helps to sit on a toilet or to squat when inserting. It is also best to insert a tampon while the vaginal canal is wet with blood and not dry.

If despite taking the means to block, a woman’s flow is very heavy such that the bleeding cannot be stopped from exiting during her entire wudu and obligatory prayer, then she will resort to the excused person’s rulings.

Exceptions To Blocking

The following scenarios are examples of when a woman is not required to block her vaginal blood from exiting. Instead, she must resort to the excused person’s rulings for praying, providing that she meets all the conditions for establishing the excuse.

1) A virgin girl or woman. Some scholars believe that it is sinful for a virgin to insert anything inside of the vagina. This has nothing to do with breaking her virginity. The argument revolves around potentially and purposely inflicting harm upon her by breaking her hymen or causing unnecessary discomfort because she is not sexually active. Consequently, these women will automatically resort to the excused person’s rulings.

2) For a non-virgin, if blocking the blood flow is deemed harmful or causes undue hardship, then she will resort to the excused person’s rulings.

Being ‘harmful’ or causing ‘undue hardship’ is determined through clear signs, past experience, or the opinion of an upright, expert Muslim doctor.

For example, a pregnant woman who is experiencing vaginal bleeding. This blood is ruled as istihada and she must continue to pray. However, it is not normal to bleed during pregnancy, and a doctor will most likely advise her against inserting anything into her vagina for fear of harming the baby.

3) According to the laws of fasting, inserting an object into the vagina such that it completely disappears into the vagina would break the fast. As such, a non-virgin woman cannot insert a mooncup while she is fasting because the mooncup is inserted entirely into the vaginal canal and no part of it remains outside of the body.

Similarly, inserting anything wet or lubricated into the vagina breaks the fast – even if the object does not completely disappear inside the vagina. Thus, a non-virgin woman experiencing istihada should dry her private parts properly and only insert dry materials to block the flow, while taking care to leave part of the object outside of the body. Tampons can be an option if she leaves the string hanging outside of the vaginal hole.

If this is not possible, then she would use the excused person’s rulings during the fasting day and block from Maghrib to Fajr.

Please note that it is vital for women to record the days and times that they see istihada, as it may impact several rulings related to their habit and worship.

Check out our courses for more details about the general rulings of worship and menstruation.

Jazak Allah khayran

Naielah Ackbarali


  • Imam ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar
  • Imam ibn Abidin, Manhal al-Waridin
  • Imam Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah
  • Imam Tahtawi, Hashiyya al-Tahtawi

© Muslima Coaching, All Rights Reserved.


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Sexual Intimacy During Istihada



Although most women will experience irregular bleeding (istihada) at some point, it’s often confusing and leads to uncertainty in prayer, fasting and sexual intimacy.  The paradox of carrying out an act of worship that requires purity, whilst experiencing vaginal bleeding can seem contradictory and even unnatural. Women often doubt whether their worship is valid and or whether it should be redone. Moreover, married women have the added concerns regarding sexual intimacy and what is permitted. Prolonged istihada that is not well-managed can have adverse effects on intimacy in one’s marriage. 

The confusion that istihada causes is quite normal. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) described istihada as a ‘kick from Satan’ (Nasai: 221) because of the disorientation it causes in matters of religion, especially ritual purity and prayer.  However, the confusion is avoidable. By simply learning a few basic principles of istihada and adhering to them, a woman can effectively ease doubts and continue her worship. 


Rulings Related to Istihada

  1. Istihada is irregular vaginal bleeding. It occurs outside of the parameters of what can be legally determined as menstruation (hayd) or post-natal bleeding (nifas).  
  2. A woman experiencing istihada is not ritually impure. Therefore, she should continue fasting and praying. She is also permitted to touch and recite Qur’an, offer supererogatory (nafl) prayer, enter the masjid and perform tawaf of the Ka’ba.
  3. A woman experiencing istihada may fall into the category of an excused person (ma’dhur). This is if her bleeding is continuous, to the extent that she does not have enough time to perform the essential acts of ablution (wudu) and perform her obligatory (fard) prayer. If she determines this is the case, she is a ma’dhur and her wudu will remain for the duration of the entire prayer time, regardless of how much or how often she bleeds. Thereafter, if she bleeds even once during each subsequent prayer time, she will remain a ma’dhur. Whilst she is a ma’dhur, her wudu is only invalidated by the expiration of the prayer time or if she experiences another nullifier.
  4. If she determines that she does have enough time to make wudu and pray her obligatory prayer, she will not be classed as excused. Consequently, her wudu will be invalidated whenever she bleeds.
  5. Sexual intimacy is permitted during istihada.
  6. A woman experiencing istihada should attempt to stem the flow of blood and prevent it from exiting the vagina for the duration of the prayer. She can do this either by inserting something into her vagina, such as a moon cup, tampon, or kursuf that blocks the vaginal passage. If praying in a sitting position stops the blood from flowing, she is required to sit and pray.


Sexual Intimacy in Istihada

A woman may feel uneasy at the idea of sexual intercourse during istihada. Not only can it feel disconcerting, it also has hygiene implications. Couples may also experience a decrease in the inclination to engage in penetrative sex during istihada

To practically manage this situation, it is recommended that husbands first understand how their wives feel about the issue before initiating intercourse. A woman will better understand her body and the flow of blood; she will be better able to decide. Istihada is irregular bleeding that is usually indicative of a hormonal imbalance or underlying illness and as a result, can cause discomfort and weakness. A temporary break from sexual intercourse may allow her to regain her energy and recuperate. However, this shouldn’t dissuade a couple from other methods of intimacy, such as caressing, kissing, and even non-penetrative sexual intercourse. 

If istihada is a recurring issue, a couple may decide in the long-term that they will continue with intercourse, despite the bleeding, especially if the flow is light and sporadic. Either way, clear communication between a husband and wife, coupled with consideration for the emotional and physical needs of each other can prevent istihada from becoming a matter of contention and frustration. 


Rectal Bleeding

If a woman experiences rectal bleeding it is recommended (mustahab) to abstain from sexual intercourse. This is because of the slight possibility that rectal bleeding may be confused with menstruation (hayd) due to the proximity of the orifices. Sexual intercourse in hayd is strongly prohibited in Islam and scholars have issued grave warnings for the one who considers it permissible or knowingly engages in it.


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Am I obliged to wash away the istihada blood on my clothes before praying?



Question: Am I obliged to wash away the istihada blood on my clothes before praying?


Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu

In the Hanafi madhhab, the excused amount of filth that is permitted to remain on a person’s clothes and body such that the prayer remains valid is:

  • less than 5 grams in weight of solid filth, or
  • less than 5 centimeters in diameter of liquid filth.

If a person prays with the excused amount of filth on their clothes or body, it is slightly disliked (makruh tanzihi). Thus, it is recommended to remove the filth before praying – although the prayer will still be valid if it is not removed.

If a person prays with more than this amount on their clothes or body – and they possess the means to remove it – then the prayer is not valid.

This is the general ruling that applies to everyone.

The Excused Person Exception

There is an exception for someone who has the excused person status.

The excused person status is a special status which permits ease in practicing specific rulings related to ritual purity. For more details about the excused person, click here.

Thus, this ruling is in relation to the filth that exits from the excuse and it soils the excused person’s clothes.

If it is believed that by the time the prayer that the excused person is praying finishes:

  • No new filth would soil the clothing again; then YES, the existing filth must be removed and it is not permissible to pray with it before purifying the garment.
  • More than the excused amount would soil the clothing again; then NO, the filth does not need to be removed and it is permissible to pray in the garment.

For example, a woman established the excuse for abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada). Her blood flow is very heavy and her underwear is soiled with blood. Based on her reasoned judgment, she believes that by the time she finishes making wudu and praying the prayer, more than 5 centimeters in diameter of blood will exit. In this situation, she is not obliged to purify the garment before praying.

Otherwise, she must and it is not permissible to offer the prayer in it. Alternatively, she can change her clothing before praying if she has access to another clean garment.

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  • ummtaalib changed the title to All about irregular/abnormal vaginal bleeding (Istihaadah)

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