What is normal, and what isn’t for a menstrual cycle? Do you have shorter periods than usual? Let’s find out!
What is a “Normal” Menstrual Cycle
First of all, let’s find out what is considered to be a normal menstrual cycle.
The average length of a cycle is 28 days. It’s measured from the first day of bleeding one month to the next day of bleeding the following month. It can be as little as 21 days, or as long as 35.
Most people menstruate for 5 days, but it can last for 2-8 days.
You can find out more here: All About Menstrual Cycles.
I have Shorter Periods than Usual: Should I Be Worried?
What about if you normally menstruate for 6 days, but you have a few months in a row where it’s only 4 days. Is this a cause for concern?
In general, when you have any changes to your menstrual cycle, including: heavier/lighter flow, spotting between periods, varying cycle length, or number of days you’re menstruating, you should check with your doctor.
There are some potentially serious medical conditions that can cause this. In addition, there are various treatment options to deal with these things.
My Period is Shorter than Normal
Why are My Periods Getting Shorter?
There are a number of possible reasons for this. Some of them include the following.
Age Related Changes
Two possible reasons for shorter periods related to age include puberty and perimenopause.
It takes a few years for periods to become less irregular after you go through puberty. If you’re very young, it could just be fluctuating hormones during this period of your life.
Another age-related reason for shorter periods is perimenopause, or the years before menopause. The average age of menopause is 51.5, so it will happen to most people in their 40’s and last for 4-8 years.
It’s common for periods to get lighter during this time until they eventually cease altogether. When you don’t have a period for a year, you’re considered to be menopausal.
Not that this is the only way that a period changes during perimenopause. Like puberty, just about anything can happen! More details on that here: Learn More about Perimenopausal Periods, and also some of the best period protection options during this time.
Some of the lifestyle changes include stress, excessive exercise, weight changes, or eating disorders.
During periods of significant stress, your whole body is impacted. This impact can include hormone production, including those that regulate your menstrual cycle.
If you exercise a lot, but don’t eat enough, your body can enter “starvation” mode. For example, if you’re training for an Ironman triathlon, or an ultramarathon. A jog around the block a few times a week won’t do it!
When your body enters this mode, all calories go towards critical functions which keep you alive, and not towards the less critical things like producing reproductive hormones.
That’s why you can miss your period, or have a shorter period than normal.
With significant weight changes, many people experience irregular periods. For example, after gastric bypass surgery or with extreme dieting (less than 1000 calories a day).
Another example of this is eating disorders, which can disrupt normal bodily functioning.
Some medications can cause your period to be shorter than normal. The main ones are hormonal birth control, thyroid medication, or prescriptions for anxiety, inflammation or epilepsy.
Underlying Medical Conditions (Less Serious)
There are a few medical conditions which can cause your period to be shorter than usual. They include:
- ectopic pregnancy
- ovarian cyst
- thyroid disorder.
Underlying Medical Conditions (More Serious)
There are some very serious conditions which can cause a shorter period. They include:
- Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
- Asherman Syndrome
- Cervical Stenosis
- Sheehan’s Syndrome
Treatment for Shorter Periods
Most people find that having shorter periods is certainly not a problem! That said, as you can see from the previous section, there are certainly some serious reasons why this might be happening. You should visit your doctor to rule these out.
In addition, because there are so many potential reasons, it’s impossible to give any one treatment option. It really does depend on the underlying condition causing it. Again, your doctor will be in the best position to give you some advice specific to your situation.
How Can I Track my Period?
Do you have no idea whether or not your period is getting shorter, or longer? Or, whether or not your cycle length is getting shorter, or longer?
This can be useful information for your doctor to have.
Here is some information on how to track your period, as well as some phone apps that we recommend:
I Don’t Have Periods at All!
Are you 15 years old, but haven’t gotten your period yet? You have Primary Amenorrhea.
Or, maybe you’ve started menstruating, but have now missed three periods in a row? You are considered to have Secondary Amenorrhea.
There are some natural reasons for this, including pregnancy, but missing periods can also indicate a far more serious problem.
More information here:
Shorter Periods than Normal: Have your Say!
Any comments or question about shorter periods than usual? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.