Period Problems? 8 Reasons Why Your Menstrual Cycle is Lighter

Last modified: June 6, 2019


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While a light period may seem like a good thing, it is often your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. 

While most women do not look forward to their monthly period, tracking your cycle can give you good insights  into your overall health.  Any changes from what is typically normal for you and your cycle can point to a change in your health as well.

What is a Normal Period?

spatter of blood on a wooden floor

There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to menstrual cycles-only what is typical and normal for you. Most cycles range from 21-35 days and last anywhere from two days to a full week. Some women will experience painful symptoms.

Most women have not so nice words to say about their menstrual cycle and their period, be it before, during, or after. The usual complaints are heavy flow days, bloating, cramping, back pains, tender breasts, and the exhaustion that go with it.

So if your period suddenly becomes very light the whole time, it may appear like it’s a good thing. Less bleeding can make you more comfortable, but it could be a sign of a change in your health. There are many explanations for this change in your monthly cycle. Some are more serious than others. Regardless, it is a sign that should not be ignored.

What is Considered a Light Period?

  • Your period may considered to be light if:
  • You’re bleeding for less than two days
  • Your flow is not enough to fill a pad or tampon
  • The bleeding is more frequent than the average 21-35 day cycle
  • You have missed one of your regular flow periods

Here are the top eight reasons that may explain why your flow has suddenly become low.

1. You’re Pregnant

image of a woman's hands on her belly

Most women stop getting their period once they conceive, but some continue to experience bleeding. So it’s not true that your menstrual cycle stops when you get pregnant. It may be true for most but for some it’s not.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 25 to 30 % of pregnant women will experience some bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy.

When there is bleeding during early pregnancy, it is usually dark brown or light pink and should not be enough to fill up a tampon or a pad.

Reasons for bleeding in early pregnancy:

Implantation bleeding-This is believed to occur when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. This does not occur in all of pregnancies.

Ectopic pregnancy-Unusually light period or spotting could also signify an ectopic pregnancy. This is when an egg is implanted somewhere else other than the uterus. This condition can be very dangerous. It can result in heavy bleeding while pregnant as well. When you are in doubt, speak to a doctor.

Cervical Irritation-The hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the cervix unusually soft and more prone to bleeding. There is also the risk that a cervical polyp (an overgrowth of tissue) could form and bleed. Often women may notice that you are bleeding after sex or a physical examination.

Infection: A vaginal infection may also cause bleeding during pregnancy and is often accompanied by a change in vaginal discharge.

If you suspect you may be pregnant you can get a take home pregnancy test and have the pregnancy confirmed by your doctor.

2. Too Much Weight Loss or Weight Gain

image of a pair of feet on a scale

The hormonal changes that signal your body during your menstrual cycle come from signals between your ovaries and your brain. If you do not become pregnant shortly after ovulation, these changes will signal your body to begin to shed the lining of your uterus through your cervix and vagina, which is commonly known as your period.

Any major changes in the body during the cycle can cause an interruption in these signals and your body will not ovulate.

How major changes in weight affect the menstrual cycle depends on your starting weight. If you began at a healthy weight and then gained or lost a large amount of weight you could see a light or absent cycle. If you are moving from being overweight or underweight towards a healthy weight you may see your cycle return.

One study suggested that a loss of 20 % of your body weight or more could lead to the absence of a period all together. This is more likely if the weight loss was not done in a healthy manner, or the woman became underweight as a result.

Just remember that your body needs a healthy balance between protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins in order to function normally. Any drastic change won’t be good for your body.

3. Too Much Stress

woman with a head in her hands in front of a computer

There are two types of stress that can affect your menstrual cycle: emotional stress and physical stress. Periods of emotional stress can be brought on by many different factors-from the death of a loved one, financial concerns or even issues in your personal relationship.

Signs that you are too stressed:

  • Acne
  • Frequent sickness
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in libido
  • Sweating
  • Digestive issues
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Depression

 

Physical stress can be brought on by excessive exercise. The strain it puts on your body can cause your cycle to suddenly stop.

These stresses cause a disruption in the normal flow of hormones that signal your body to begin ovulation. Major life stressors can require the care of mental health professionals. If you are unsure how to treat your stress, speak to one of our doctors. 

4. Hormonal Birth Control

image of a pack of birth control pills

One of the most common reasons for a change in your menstrual cycle or a lighter period is going on the birth control pill. Some doctors even prescribe it to women who have very heavy period.

Hormonal birth control often uses progestin or estrogen hormones to prevent ovulation and/or implantation of a fertilized egg. These hormones often affect the uterine lining which can lead to spotting and lighter periods.

Many aspects of your menstrual cycle can be affected by this type of birth control, and those affects may change over time. Spotting and irregular periods are often common in the first few months of a hormonal birth control method.

So if you just started the pill or gotten a hormonal IUD which made your period lighten up, just enjoy it.

5. Age

close up image of a woman

Could a lighter period be a sign that menopause is just around the corner? The answer is possibly, but not always. As a woman ages her cycle may change and it is not necessarily an indication of infertility.

Many teens may start off their menstruating years with light periods. This can be because they haven’t accumulated enough hormones to trigger their uterine lining to thicken up. Generally, healthy women will start to have regular hormone levels and predictable periods.

As women approach menopause, their hormone levels may start to once again fluctuate and cause their periods to become unpredictable and lighter.

Changes in your period are really an indication in a change in your hormone levels. If you are unsure if what you are experiencing is a cause for concern you can always connect with one of our doctors. 

6. Cervical Stenosis

doctor holding a plastic vagina model

This is a rare and uncomfortable problem which occurs when the cervix narrows or closes up completely. This can lead to infertility and/or the cervix can become filled with blood or pus. When the latter occurs the fluid that is built up can only trickle out slowly and make be mistaken for a light period.

Some women are born with this condition. In others it can stem from suffering from the following conditions:

  • Menopause-this can be caused by the thinning of the tissues in the cervix
  • Cervical cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer) and the radiation often used to treat it.
  • Surgery performed on the cervix or any damage or removal of the lining of the uterus

In women who are still menstruating, the blood may build up and mix with cells and flow backward into the pelvis. In some cases this can lead to endometriosis.

When mixed with menstruation, this condition can also cause irregular bleeding, painful periods and the absence of the a period.

There is a treatment option where the cervix is widened using a variety of dilators and occasionally a stent may be inserted.

If you suspect you may be suffering from this rare condition, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

7. Scar Tissue In Your Uterus

woman with hand over her lower abdomin

Asherman’s syndrome is a rare condition that can develop in women who have undergone several dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures.

Most cases heal without any complications but in rare occurrences, scar tissue can cause internal damage. This happens when the scar tissue on the walls of the uterus become fused.

This rare condition may also occur a

  • Infertility
  • The loss of your period

In order to rectify this condition doctors may perform a surgery to remove the scar tissue and then insert a balloon into the uterus to ensure that the area heals properly without fusing together again.

 

8. Losing Plenty Of Blood During Or After Childbirth

A traumatic birth can have a large impact on a new mother’s menstrual cycle. Sheehan’s syndrome occurs when a mother looses a significant amount of blood during or after delivery. This loss of blood deprives the body of oxygen which can cause damage to the pituitary gland.

This will drastically reduce your gland’s production of hormones including those that control your menstrual cycle.

Fortunately, due to advances in obstetrics in the developed world, this is not a common condition. Many women in developing countries may suffer from this condition and require hormone replacement therapy.

Menstrual Cycle Period Problems can Pinpoint a Deeper Issue

Having a lighter period than the usual may not necessarily cause for an alarm but don’t ignore the change. Keep track of your menstrual cycle for a couple of months. If it doesn’t go back to your normal, make an appointment with your gynecologist immediately. You can also talk with an OBGYN free online. Our experts are standing by to assist and answer all your questions.


dr-richard-honakerReviewed by Richard A. Honaker, M.D. — Chief Medical Advisor at YourDoctors.Online

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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