There are many factors that can affect the length of your periods. If your period suddenly becomes much shorter, though, it’s normal to be concerned.
Although it may be an early sign that you are pregnant, there are many possible causes. These include lifestyle factors and birth control.
Learn more about why your period might last for a few days.
Normal menstrual cycles occur about once every 28-days, though this can vary. Some women experience their periods every 21 days while others experience them 35 days apart.
Every woman is unique when it comes to periods. The average period lasts three to five days. A period lasting two days or more is normal.
It could be due to many reasons that your period suddenly stops for several days or becomes shorter.
Pregnancy may be the reason for a “period” that lasts only one or two days.
Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg attaches with the lining of your uterus.
This type of bleeding is often less severe than regular periods. It usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. It’s typically light pink to dark brown in color.
Implantation bleeding is usually experienced between 10-14 days after conception. It is possible for some women to experience it but not all. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOOG), implantation bleeding occurs in approximately 15 to 25% of pregnancies.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized embryo attaches to the fallopian tubes or ovary instead of the uterus. It’s commonly called a tubal pregnancy.
Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are two of the most obvious signs that you have an ectopic baby.
The tube can burst if a fertilized egg continues to grow in the fallopian tubes. This can cause severe bleeding in the abdomen.
If you have symptoms of an ectopic baby, seek medical attention immediately.
- Grave abdominal or pelvic pain, often on one side
- Dizziness or fainting
- An abnormal vaginal bleeding
- rectal pressure
Miscarriage can lead to bleeding that could be mistakenly thought to be a period. Many women may be unaware they’re having a miscarriage since they might not have known they were pregnant to begin with.
It could be light bleeding or heavy bleeding. The length of your pregnancy will determine the amount and length of bleeding.
You may also experience miscarriage symptoms like:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Back pain
Breastfeeding may cause a delay, lighter, or shorter period.
Prolactin, which is a hormone that makes breast milk, prevents menstruation.
Breastfeeding mothers will most likely resume their periods between 9 and 18 months after giving birth to their baby.
Shorter and lighter periods can be caused by hormonal birth control pills, shots, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Birth control pills can thin the lining. This can reduce your period length and lighten it. According to the Cleveland Clinic: Women who take progestin only pills can bleed between their periods.
There are also medications that can alter the flow, frequency, and length of your period.
- Blood thinners
- Antidepressants and/or antipsychotics
- Ginger, for example, is a herb.
- Tamoxifen (a medicine that is used to treat certain types or breast cancers)
Many lifestyle factors, such as changes in your daily routine, can have an impact on the length of your period.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common lifestyle changes that can cause changes to your period.
Hormones can be affected by high levels of stress. This can also affect your menstrual cycle.
You might experience irregular, shorter or lighter periods if you are under severe stress. You might not experience any periods at all.
After your stress levels have dropped, your periods will return to normal.
Significant weight loss
A lot of weight loss can lead to irregular periods. Periods can be stopped altogether if you have an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.
Extreme amounts of exercise can lead to irregular periods or absences.
If you don’t balance the amount of energy you burn with adequate nutrition, your body won’t have enough energy to keep all your systems working. This will cause your body to start shifting energy away from certain functions, such as reproduction.
The hormones controlling ovulation are released by the hypothalamus (a brain region).
Your monthly cycle may be affected by certain medical conditions, which can cause a shorter time than usual.
Thyroid disease can cause your body to produce too or too much thyroid hormone. This hormone plays an essential role in your menstrual cycle.
When your body doesn’t produce the right amount of this hormone, your periods can become irregular and sometimes shorter than usual.
Thyroid disease symptoms can vary depending on the type of disorder. The most common symptoms are:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling tired or having trouble sleeping
- A faster or slower heart beat than normal
Polycystic-ovary syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS can cause your body to produce more male hormones than normal. This hormonal imbalance can prevent ovulation.
You may experience a shorter or longer period of time, or none at all. PCOS can also cause:
- excessive facial hair
- a deeper voice
- Mood swings
Pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID).
PID refers to a form of infection where bacteria infects the vagina. It can spread to the uterus, genital tract and even the upper genital area. This infection is most commonly transmitted via sexual contact.
PID may cause irregular periods, but they’re typically heavier, longer, or more painful.
The following conditions are less common and may result in shorter or irregular times:
For the first few years after starting menstruation, young women may experience irregular periods.
Period irregularities can also occur during perimenopause. This can happen several years before menopause.
According to the Cleveland Clinic women can experience perimenopause eight to ten years before menopause. This means that it could occur in your 30s and 40s.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels start to drop. These can lead to irregular periods.
While a bleeding period of less than a week may be an indication of pregnancy, it could also indicate other reasons.
If you’re concerned about your shorter than usual period, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can help you figure out what’s triggering the change and start treatment, if needed.