Is There Such A Thing As A Normal Period
For the record, no, there is no such thing as a normal period. “It’s only what’s normal for you,” Greves says. “We are all different.”
However, Lew points out that there is a range of what’s considered normal in medical termsnamely, cycles of every three to six weeks, with a period that lasts two to seven days. If your cycle is outside of this range or has suddenly fallen outside of it, she recommends checking in with your doctor about a possible evaluation.
What Causes This Change In The Body
It mainly comes down to hormones, your bodys messengers, which travel through the bloodstream to affect various functions and processes. When a woman enters middle age, her ovaries start to produce less oestragen. They also produce less ovarian follicles making the ovaries become less responsive to Luteinizing Hormone and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone , two hormones necessary for reproduction and the regulation of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This decline in oestragen and fluctuating hormones can be the cause of almost any imaginable bleeding pattern. This also includes intermenstrual bleeding, which is separate to irregular menstruation.
You’re Exercising A Lot
Under most circumstances, “exercise does not affect the menstrual cycle in any significant way,” says Jennifer Lew, M.D., an OB/GYN at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital. But exercising at extreme or high competition levels can interrupt your cycle, leading to shorter periods or no periods at all, she says. This specifically affects your hypothalamic-pituitary axis, she says, which is the hormone feedback system that involves your brain and ovaries.
“The hypothalamus controls your cycle,” explains Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. “If you’re exercising at a very intense level, your body may detect that it’s not a good time for you to be reproducing and interfere with your ovulation.”
As a result, “you may be building up a uterine lining but not getting the signal to shed it from lack of conception,” says functional medicine gynecologist Wendie Trubow, M.D., MBA.
What’s more, she adds, “if a woman is exercising enough to disrupt her ovulation, then she may be also suppressing her estrogen levels, which can lead to shorter periods since a woman doesn’t build up enough of the uterine lining and so, less sheds and shorter menstruation.”
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When Periods Are Abnormally Short: Top Reasons Why It Happens
- Is it normal to have periods for only two days or so when your menstrual cycle is usually longer? Here’s what an expert says.
Your periods tell a lot about your health. Any irregularity can indicate trouble with your reproductive health and should not be ignored. Every woman has a different menstrual cycle and depending on that, their periods last for 2 to 7 days.
While heavy and longer duration periods could warn you about certain infections like pelvic inflammatory disease, or some blood disorders, if you are experiencing unusually short periods accompanied by other discomforts, it could be a sign of early pregnancy loss, menopause or even PCOS.
Light bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy
While you may be thinking your periods were shorter than usual, it could be a sign of early pregnancy. Implantation bleeding – light spotting or bleeding – can occur about 10-14 days after conception and is considered normal. On the other hand, it could be early pregnancy loss too.
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“It could signify early pregnancy spotting or delayed implantation bleeding, around the duration when women expect their periods,” says Dr Swati Gaikwad, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Pune, adding, “this could also happen after a delayed or missed period signifying early pregnancy spotting or an early pregnancy loss.”
It can be menopause too
It could be a sign of PCOS
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Youre Suffering From Premature Ovarian Failure
Premature ovarian failure or primary ovarian insufficiency occurs when women have loss of normal ovarian function prior to 40 years old, explains Dr. Richardson. If your ovaries arent working correctly, they wont produce the right amounts of estrogen or release eggs when theyre supposed to, which could lead to shortened and irregular cycles, she says.
Premature ovary failure typically shows up around age 27, but occurs in one in 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 29 and one in 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39, according to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The most common symptom of premature ovarian failure is infertility and amenorrhea , says Dr. Richardson, and its diagnosed by ultrasound and blood testthe hormone levels would be consistent with menopause.
Translation: If you think you may have premature ovarian failure and want to get pregnant in the future, talk to your doc about getting tested as well as your fertility options.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Having a light period is not usually a cause for concern. However, if someone has consistently light periods or starts skipping periods altogether, they should talk with a doctor.
A person should also contact a doctor if a light period coincides with other symptoms that are causing concern, such as pelvic pain.
Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine polyps, also called endometrial polyps, are soft growths in the endometrium. They can range from sesame-seed sized to larger than a golf ball. These growths are not usually cancerous. Uterine polyps become more common with age and are rare in anyone under 20. You may develop one or many.
Uterine fibroids are another type of non-cancerous growth on the uterus, but they develop from the muscle tissue rather than the endometrium. They may be inside or outside of the uterus and, as with polyps, you can have one or several.
Both polyps and fibroids can cause menstrual irregularities, including more frequent periods, longer and heavier periods, and bleeding between periods. They can also interfere with your fertility and cause miscarriage. Other symptoms of uterine polyps include:
- Post-menopausal bleeding or spotting
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What Could Cause Heavy Bleeding
There are several reasons why you may be experiencing heavy bleeding, some of which are healthy and natural. Do not attempt to self-diagnose seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Here are a few of the more serious medical conditions associated with heavy bleeding according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They advise seeking an ob-gyn in many of these cases:
- Birth control, specifically the copper IUD during the first year of use
- Irregular ovulation
Scar Tissue In Your Uterus Is Causing Issues
Most women who have gone through routine dilation and curettage procedures heal with zero complications, but sometimes severe scarring causes the walls of the uterus to stick to each other, causing whats known as Ashermans syndrome. If your period seems to have lightened up a lot after youve had a D& C, this might be your problem. You may need surgery to remove the scar tissue.
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My Periods Have Changed Is Menopause Around The Corner
An ob-gyn explains the course of perimenopause.
Its a common scene in any ob-gyn practice: A patient comes in, concerned that her periods have changed. Whats going on? she asks. Is this menopause?
If youre a woman in your 40s, a change in your menstrual periods is the hallmark of perimenopause thats what we call the years leading up to your last menstrual period.
Heres a look at how we diagnose perimenopause and menopause, and what else to expect as you enter this phase of life.
Why Does Variation Happen
Anything that affects the balance of your reproductive hormones can affectyour cycleâs length as well as your symptoms and the length and heaviness of your period.
Menstrual cycles are caused by the rhythmic ups and downs of your reproductive hormones, and the physical changes those ups and downs cause. They trigger the growth of follicles in the ovaries, the release of an egg and the growth and shedding of the uterine lining . The reproductive hormones include estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone and others.
In a way, hormones in the menstrual cycle act a bit like they are in a relayrace. As the cycle moves forward, one hormone often triggers the next, whichthen triggers the next, moving the cycle through its different phases. Having more or less of certain hormones will create changes in the pace and timing of the cycle. If one hormone doesnât âpass the baton,â things can slow down or stop altogether. Itâs a delicate and important balance .
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Changes In Your Periods
Your periods can change for example, they may last longer or get lighter. This does not necessarily mean there’s a problem, but it does need to be investigated.
You can see your GP, or visit your nearest women’s clinic or contraceptive clinic.
Bleeding between periods, bleeding after having sex, or bleeding after the menopause needs to be checked by a doctor.
It might be caused by an infection, abnormalities in the neck of the womb or, in rare cases, it could be cancer.
You could be pregnant if you miss a period and you’ve had sex. See your GP if you’ve taken a pregnancy test and the result is negative and you’ve missed 3 consecutive periods.
They will investigate the cause and recommend any necessary treatment.
Read more about stopped or missed periods.
Whats Considered A Normal Menstrual Cycle
A normal menstrual cycle happens about once every 28 days, but this often varies. Some women have periods every 21 days, while others have periods that are 35 days apart.
When it comes to periods, every woman is different. Most women have periods that last around three to five days each month. But a period that lasts only two days, or goes on for seven days, is also considered normal.
If your period typically lasts several days and suddenly becomes much shorter, it could be due to a variety of causes.
Pregnancy may be the reason for a period that lasts only one or two days.
When a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, implantation bleeding can happen.
This type of bleeding is usually lighter than a regular period. It most often lasts about 24 to 48 hours. Its typically light pink to dark brown in color.
Implantation bleeding usually occurs about 10 to 14 days after conception. Not all pregnant women will experience it, though. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, implantation bleeding only happens in about 15 to 25 percent of pregnancies.
An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tubes, ovary, or cervix instead of the uterus. Its commonly called a tubal pregnancy.
One of the first signs of an ectopic pregnancy is vaginal bleeding along with pelvic pain.
Seek medical help right away if you experience symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, such as:
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Your Health Questions Answered
- Answered by: Dr Roger HendersonAnswered: 30/11/2021
Ovulation bleeding is light bleeding or spotting that happens when you ovulate, usually in the middle of your period cycle. As you approach menopause, youre less likely to ovulate, as your egg reserves reduce and eventually disappear. So, although ovulation bleeding isnt usually a sign of menopause, any changes in your periods including bleeding more frequently or in the middle of your cycle can be. Mid-cycle bleeding can have lots of different causes, so its best to get it checked out by a doctor, especially if youre already menopausal and youre bleeding or even spotting.
Why Is My Period Getting Shorter
Im 21 years old and I am having a problem with my period lately. For the past two months, my periods have been getting shorter. I am not on any birth control at all. I have also lost about 20 pounds within this time period and have been exercising a little more.
With that said, my periods shortened from 7 days to 5 days. I know this is something I shouldnt be complaining about, but I just think it is strange.
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You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOS is a condition where women overproduce amounts of male hormones, which can suppress ovulation. Women with PCOS will have a long history of irregular cycles, explains Dr. Richardson. They may also have months when they don’t have a menstrual cycle at all because of their imbalanced hormone levels.
If youre suffering from PCOS, youll likely also experience cysts on your ovaries, hirsutism , acne, obesity, and infertility, she says. PCOS is not a medical emergency, but seeing your ob-gyn as soon as possible to prescribe medication can help minimize the symptoms.
How Do I Know Theres A Problem With My Period
If changes occur to your period outside of the aforementioned parameters without an obvious explanation, Dr. James suggests mentioning it to your doctor. You should also tell your doctor about any bleeding that occurs in-between periods.
These deviations could potentially indicate problems with the thyroid, or a number of other medical problems. But most often, they have a benign explanation, Dr. James says.
Here are some of the note-worthy ways you can expect your period to change throughout your life.
Teenage menstrual cycles
The average age at which a girl starts her period is 12, but some girls may not get theirs until their mid-teens.
Its normal for girls to have irregular periods during puberty in fact, it can take up to three years for a girls period to become regular as hormones balance out, Dr. James notes.
Your period in your 20s
Going on or off birth control or switching birth control methods can cause changes in your flow or the length of your period. Thats not a problem.
A missed period during your 20s or any other decade could be a sign of pregnancy, though. It could also be caused by extreme stress. I have seen college students miss their period in December during finals, Dr. James says.
In some cases, a missed period could be caused by something worrisome like consistent overexercising or an eating disorder such as anorexia. Its best to mention any missed periods to your doctor.
Your period in your 30s
Your period after 40
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Weight Gain And Obesity
Weight gain and obesity can affect the frequency of your period in a couple of ways. Rapid weight gain can throw your cycle off because it affects the hypothalamus, which is a part of your brain that regulates hormones. That can lead to hormonal fluctuations that may cause periods to be more frequent or less frequent.
Obesity has a complex relationship with menstruation. High levels of fat, also called adipose tissue, can upset the balance of sex hormones and lead to more estrogen than you need. Too much estrogen can make you have short menstrual cycles and more periods. It also can cause heavier bleeding, more cramps, and more prolonged pain during your period. These problems are most severe when fat is mostly around the belly.
Losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight, can help keep your menstrual cycle regular. If you need help losing weight, talk to your doctor about what options you have.