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Why Is My Period Not Lasting as Long as It Usually Does?

Every woman is different, and so are periods. While menstrual cycles generally occur every 21-35 days and last for 3-5 days, cycles as long as eight days and as short as one day can be considered normal. 

It’s natural for periods to be a bit unpredictable during adolescence. As you move out of adolescence, periods usually become more regular — but experiencing small differences in symptoms, duration, and flow each month is completely normal. Hormonal fluctuations over the course of your lifetime can change your period, too. 

However, if your period is suddenly shorter than what’s normal for you, you may worry about what’s caused it to change and whether you should be concerned.

Board-certified OB/GYN Daniel S. Kushner, MD, can help. As part of his comprehensive OB/GYN services in White Plains and Queens, New York, Dr. Kushner offers diagnostic and treatment services for women with abnormal periods. 

The first step is getting to the bottom of the issue. Experiencing shorter periods could be the result of one of many different reasons, some based on lifestyle and others rooted in underlying health concerns. Here are some of the most common causes.

Reason 1: You’re on birth control

Starting birth control for the first time or switching forms can affect your period. That’s because certain types of birth control, like rings, pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and injections, can cause amenorrhea — the absence of a period — or can affect the length of your cycle. 

Changes to your period from birth control usually come within a few months of starting or switching your birth control or changing the brand.

Reason 2: Breastfeeding

When you’re nursing, reproductive hormones that usually stimulate ovulation are suppressed. This means you might skip periods or experience shorter cycles. As you slowly transition out of breastfeeding, you’ll start to have cycles again, but they might still be short until you stop breastfeeding completely. 

Reason 3: You’re pregnant (and didn’t realize it)

Implantation bleeding is when the embryo first burrows into the uterus, about 10-14 days after conception. This bleeding can often be mistaken for a period if a woman is unaware she’s pregnant — especially because it occurs around the same time as your normal period but is lighter than menstrual bleeding. 

Reason 4: Perimenopause

If you’re in your 40s, your shorter periods might be a sign of perimenopause. This is a time before menopause during which your hormone levels change. You might experience lighter, heavier, or irregular cycles. While the transition lasts an average of four years, some women experience symptoms for up to 11 years. 

Reason 5: Medical conditions 

Many different medical conditions can lead to irregular bleeding, breakthrough bleeding, or shorter cycles, such as:

Other conditions, such as uterine cancer or other cancers, can shorten your period and cause other changes to your cycle. 

Reason 6: Stress

Your body produces a hormone called cortisol when you’re going through stress. This hormone can disrupt the endocrine system, your body’s hormone system. The disruption can affect your estrogen levels and can impact your menstrual cycle, including having shorter periods. 

Reason 7: Medication

Certain medications can affect your period. For example, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, thyroid hormones, or steroids, could be the culprit behind shorter period bleeding times. Stopping medications like blood thinners decrease menstrual flow. Be sure to tell Dr. Kushner about all medications you take.

Treating periods that aren’t normal for you

The first step in treating abnormal periods is understanding what’s causing them. Dr. Kushner talks with you to understand your symptoms and medical history and performs a physical exam to discover the reason for your period trouble and recommend treatment. 

Hormonal and ovulatory regulation from birth control pills can help some women, while others benefit more from minimally invasive therapies, such as an IUD or endometrial ablation. 

If your period isn’t as long as it usually is, we’re here to help. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Daniel S. Kushner, MD, today at the office nearest you.

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