Many females have a usual pattern of changes in their menstrual cycle every month. But sometimes, things don’t happen as we think they will. However, sometimes, things go differently than expected. You may notice your period is lighter than usual or even stops before you anticipate it should. This variation from your typical menstrual pattern can raise questions and concerns about “why is my period so light?”. Here, we will look at the various factors that can lead to a light period, from common causes like changes in weight, age, and medication to potential underlying medical conditions or pregnancy. Understanding what is “normal” for your period is the first step in determining whether your light period warrants further attention or is just a temporary variation.
What Constitutes a “Normal” Period?
Before we talk about why some people have light periods, it’s important to understand what’s considered a “normal” menstrual cycle. Typically, a menstrual cycle occurs when the uterus lining sheds through the cervix and vagina every month. Here are some critical aspects of an average period:
Frequency: Women typically get their period every 21 to 35 days (about one month, four and a half days). Any differences or changes outside this range indicate an irregular menstrual cycle.
Duration: Menstrual flow can range between two and seven days. However, this duration can vary from person to person.
Also, if your periods or menstrual cycle has been light since birth, it is not a concern. In that case, it is simply your normal pattern.
What Causes Lighter Periods?
Here is your answer to this question “why is my period extremely light?” Light periods can occur for various reasons, including lifestyle and hormonal changes. Here are some common causes:
Age plays a significant role in menstrual cycle changes. If you are in your teenage years, your period may be irregular in duration and flow as your hormones fluctuate. On the other hand, during menopause, you might have irregular periods with a lighter flow. These changes are primarily due to hormonal imbalances associated with these life stages.
2. Weight and Diet
Your body weight and body fat percentage can influence your menstrual cycle. Being significantly underweight can disrupt your period because your hormones may not function normally. Likewise, significant weight loss or gain can lead to irregular menstrual cycles. According to NIH, those who have increased BMI experienced irregular periods.
Pregnancy is one of the most common reasons for a missed period or very light bleeding. If you suspect you might be pregnant and experience light spotting, it could be implantation bleeding. This is when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus lining, usually lasting for no more than two days. It is important to note that pregnancy can still occur even if your period has not resumed post-pregnancy.
For breastfeeding individuals, the return of their periods may be delayed. The hormone responsible for milk production can stop ovulation, which, in turn, can delay the return of menstruation. Some individuals may not experience their period until several months after giving birth if they breastfeed.
However, it is crucial to remember that pregnancy can still occur during this time, even before your first postnatal period. Therefore, if you engage in unprotected sexual activity while breastfeeding and experience spotting, taking a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy is advisable.
5. Birth Control
Hormonal birth control methods can significantly affect the regularity and flow of your period. Some birth control methods work by preventing the release of an egg, thereby reducing the thickness of the uterine lining. As a result, lighter periods or even skipped periods can occur, or chances of lighter periods on birth control increase. These methods can come in different forms, such as pills, patches, rings, and shots.
Additionally, starting or stopping birth control can lead to irregular periods as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.
Stress can also have an impact on your menstrual cycle. When stressed, your brain can alter the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, potentially leading to skipped or lighter periods. Once the stressful situation decreases, your periods should return to normal.
7. Over Exercising
Frequent and intense exercise can cause changes in your menstrual cycle. Athletes may experience alterations in their periods due to the physical stress, low body weight, and high energy expenditure associated with rigorous training.
8. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders like anorexia could also lead to irregular periods due to low body weight. These conditions can disrupt the hormonal balance responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle.
9. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder resulting in irregular periods or the end of menstruation. This condition is also responsible for other symptoms such as weight changes, acne, facial hair growth, and infertility.
Suppose your healthcare provider suspects you have PCOS. In that case, they may recommend treatments such as weight management and contraceptive pills to regulate your menstrual cycle. Metformin, a pharmaceutical prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, has been found to potentially enhance ovulation and regulate insulin levels.
10. Serious Medical Conditions
Unusual or irregular periods can sometimes be indicative of more severe health conditions. Regular periods typically signify that your body is functioning correctly. Therefore, a light period may signal underlying problems with hormone levels or other medical issues. Conditions affecting the reproductive organs can also lead to irregular periods.
When can you see the Doctor?
It is expected to experience some variations in your menstrual cycle, but it may be necessary to reach out to a healthcare provider if:
You miss three consecutive periods and are not pregnant.
You suspect you might be pregnant.
You have irregular periods.
You experience bleeding between periods.
You feel severe pain during your period.
Additionally, if you notice any other unusual symptoms, it is essential to seek medical advice.
Treatment Options for Abnormal Lighter Flow
If your light periods persist or are accompanied by concerning symptoms, you may require further evaluation and treatment. Here are some potential approaches:
If you develop an infection that affects your menstrual cycle, it is essential to keep your genital area clean and dry. Avoid wearing tight clothing, as sweat and dirt accumulation can worsen the issue. Depending on the type of infection, topical antifungal, creams, or oral antibiotics may be recommended.
Superficial skin cysts that do not cause significant discomfort may not require treatment. However, suppose you find a cyst bothersome or infected. In that case, a doctor can address it by injecting medication, draining it, or removing the cyst.
Also Read: Are Ovarian Cysts Painful?
Light periods may not always be a cause for concern. In fact, a period lasting just two to three days can still be considered normal. However, it is crucial to remain alert about changes in your menstrual cycle and seek medical attention if you experience persistent alterations. Tracking your menstrual patterns and discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider can ensure your reproductive health remains in good condition. Remember that everyone’s body is unique, and what is “normal” for one person may differ from another, so open communication with your healthcare provider is vital to maintaining your overall well-being.