Many women have challenging menstrual periods every month. They may experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms or just feel bloated and out of sorts. Others, though, have very few symptoms, and their natural cycle has a light-flow, shorter period.
Short periods may sound like they are a gift to someone who has heavy periods. However, irregular or light periods may signal menopause, pregnancy or perhaps a medical issue.
Is it Normal to have a Short Period?
“Normal” can mean different things to different people. “Normal” periods can last from three to seven days. The full menstrual cycle may be as short as 21 days or as long as 35 days.
Three days of bleeding may not seem long, but it is considered normal, as long as the menstruation is regular. This means that every several weeks, one of your ovaries will release an egg. Estrogen will cause a build-up in your uterus, known as the endometrium. If the egg is not fertilized, your body will shed the endometrium, and this is your period. Your short period can still be normal, if it fits in that range.
The “Normal” Cycle
A typical woman’s cycle is approximately four weeks long. She will ovulate in the middle of the cycle and then menstruate for three to seven days, if the egg is not fertilized. If you suddenly have a period that is only two days long, it may cause you to wonder if something was wrong, or if you were pregnant. Here’s what physicians say about short, sudden menstrual periods:
“My Period only Lasted Two Days – Is that Normal?”
A two-day period is not considered normal. For most women, normal periods last three to six days. Every person is unique, and every woman’s period is unique to her. After you have been having periods for a couple years, you’ll have a feel for your normal flow, duration and frequency. When this pattern is interrupted by a two-day period, it is only natural to wonder what could be going on.
Could it be Pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, you won’t have any period at all. However, you may mistake the bleeding that occurs when the egg embeds itself in the wall of the uterus (implantation bleeding) for a short period.
Implantation blood is pinkish or brownish in color, and it may last from a few hours to a couple days.
How Can I Know for Sure?
Check for Signs of Pregnancy
Most women have symptoms early in the pregnancy. They may include headaches, tender or swollen breasts, frequent urination, fatigue and nausea. Of course, you can experience most of these issues even if you’re not pregnant. But if you have more than one or two, it could indicate a possible pregnancy.
Analyze your Bleeding
If you have a period that only lasts two days but is much heavier than usual, this could be a symptom of a medical problem. Note the color and flow of your bleeding, and any other symptoms you experience. Also note whether this bleeding started at about the same time as your period normally would, or if it started before or after that time.
Take a Pregnancy Test
Most women have no problem taking home pregnancy tests to determine whether or not they are pregnant. However, if you are experiencing spotty bleeding, you may want to contact your physician and get a blood pregnancy test. These tests are more accurate than home testing, and they can detect your pregnancy only 10 days after a child is conceived.
Speak with a Doctor
Regardless of the pregnancy test results, women who have had short periods of two days should discuss this with their physician. A short period may be caused by something simple, like forgetting to take a birth control pill, to something as serious as an ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus grows outside the uterus) or cancer.
Can anything else cause a Short Period?
Changes in Estrogen
The hormone estrogen is responsible for changes that can occur in your menstrual cycle. Any changes in your estrogen level could disrupt your normal period pattern. This is why young women just going through puberty and women who are approaching menopause may have periods that are short and/or irregular. Changes in your level of estrogen during any life stage can affect the regularity and length of your periods.
Your body is well-equipped for handling short-term stress like the kind you experience every few days or so, but stress over the long term can lengthen or shorten your menstrual cycle. It can give you more painful periods. High levels of stress also make infections like bacterial vaginosis more likely to occur. Use exercise and meditation to alleviate stress, before it affects your body.
Diseases or other Health Problems
If your period only lasts two days, this sudden, short period could be caused by a health issue or disease. Conditions like liver disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or tuberculosis (TB) can cause irregular or missed periods. In addition, you might ask your physician if she thinks you should be screened for medical problems like polycystic ovary syndrome or Asherman’s syndrome.
Rapid Changes in Weight
Rapid weight gain or loss may lead to sudden cycle changes. This includes having irregular or no periods. Even though low body weight can cause missed or irregular periods, obesity can cause some of the same problems. When your body weight returns to “normal”, more or less, your period will generally do the same.
Should you be Worried?
What is normal for you isn’t normal for everyone else. It might be a time to begin worrying and speak to your physician if:
Your Period is Very Painful
If your periods suddenly become worse or more painful, this could be a sign of uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterus) or endometriosis (endometrial tissue outside your uterus that causes pelvic pain). Either of these possibilities should be discussed with your doctor.
Your Period Is Very Heavy
A heavy or prolonged period is the most commonly experienced type of irregular bleeding. A very heavy period is considered such when there is enough blood every hour, for a few hours in a row, to soak a pad or tampon. Other symptoms may include the passing of large blood clots or having a period for more than seven days.
You’re not having Periods
If you’re not old enough to be peri-menopausal or menopausal, and you’re not having periods, it may be polycystic ovary syndrome, where an imbalance in your hormones affects your ovulation and causes problems with your periods.
Alternately, it could be Asherman’s syndrome, where uterine lining has scar tissue that is inflamed, which causes changes in your menstrual cycle.