What Does a Short Period Mean?

A normal menstrual cycle usually has a length of 28 days, where a woman usually ovulates at mid-cycle and menstruates for 5-7 days approximately two weeks after ovulation. The first day of menstruation marks the beginning of a new cycle, two weeks after which another ovulation occurs. This occurs 11-13 times a year, and menstrual cycles may normally vary to be as short as 21 days or as long as 35 days.

The duration of a normal menstrual period may also vary among different women. You may have a period that lasts for as short as 3 days and as long as 7 days. However, sometimes you may suddenly experience a short period that lasts for one or two days only, and it may lead you to worry whether you are pregnant or if something else is wrong with you. Let us examine the possible reasons why your period may suddenly stop.

Are you Pregnant?

Although you cannot have a period if you are pregnant, you may have some bleeding due to implantation. This occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. So if you recently had an unprotected sex and you experience vaginal spotting that is pinkish or brownish in color around the time of your normal menstrual period, it is possible that you are pregnant. In this type of bleeding you may think that your period has abruptly stopped after one or 2 days, but not longer than 3 days.

Other clues that will help you know if you are pregnant include the common signs and symptoms of early pregnancy:

  • An early symptom of pregnancy is always feeling tired or fatigued, which is caused by hormonal changes of pregnancy.
  • Another symptom that indicates pregnancy is the need to urinate frequently. Six to eight weeks after fertilization, a hormone known as hCG is produced, and this causes you to urinate quite frequently.
  • Another early pregnancy sign is the feeling of tenderness in the breast, where your nipples become sore and may appear larger and darker in color.
  • Morning sickness, which is characterized by nausea and some vomiting, may occur anytime during the day. Headaches and dizziness may accompany these symptoms. These usually begin when you are five or six weeks pregnant.
  • Low back pains may begin early in pregnancy but may persist throughout all the months.
  • Craving certain foods while hating other foods (and even smells) is characteristic of early pregnancy.

Although women commonly experience these signs and symptoms of pregnancy, others do not show any sign of conceiving a baby. To check if your short period may indicate pregnancy, take a pregnancy test which can be done at home or in a doctor's clinic.

What are the Other Reasons for a Short Period?

Estrogen is an important hormone responsible for the changes that occur in the menstrual cycle. In adolescents estrogen levels may be starting to increase while in perimenopausal women its levels are starting to decline. Any fluctuations in estrogen levels during any stage of life can also affect the regularity of your periods.

One possible cause of short periods in women of child-bearing age is the use of oral or injected contraceptives which may affect estrogen levels. Another contraceptive, the intrauterine device (IUD), which is implanted in the uterus, can cause vaginal bleeding that resembles a short period.

Other factors may be also involved in short menstrual periods. These include rigorous exercise training among athletes, mental, physical or emotional stress, eating disorders and weight loss, which may affect estrogen levels, causing changes in your periods.

What to Do If You Experience a Short Period

If you are experiencing signs of pregnancy and you have one day or two of bleeding around the time you are expecting your period, you are probably pregnant. You can confirm this by taking a home pregnancy test.

If you find out that you are not pregnant, consider other possible causes like your use of contraceptives. Unless you are an adolescent or a perimenopausal woman who is experiencing low estrogen levels, your short periods may be due to other causes like too much stress, weight loss or physical exercise. Although short periods are not serious or a cause for worry, you may need to consult your doctor if irregularities in your menstruations persist.

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