Short periods can be considered normal if they last for around two days. If they are less than that, it could mean that there is a problem with fertility especially in a woman who is trying to get pregnant.
This is particularly so if the periods have previously been normal and have suddenly become short. If any woman is concerned about that, it is important they seek the opinion and examination of their doctor.
That doctor will be greatly useful in helping to determine the possible cause of the abnormal situation and provide the required remedy to the situation.
Accordingly, a woman should see a doctor if they have the suspicion that they are no longer fertile or have the inkling that they no longer ovulate as long as they are within the reproductive age.
Other reasons for seeking a doctor’s opinion will have to be a situation in which they experience any form of vaginal bleeding despite having done a pregnancy test which is positive. The same level of worry is welcome if any woman has vaginal bleeding which is painful no matter the duration.
Short periods can therefore occur for various reasons and there may be no specific cause. Normally, a typical period would last between two and seven days. So that if the period extends beyond seven days, there may be a health issue just as it should be a matter for concern if the period becomes less than two days.
Most of the time, bleeding that is mischaracterised as a short period is not even a period at all. It could therefore be a cycle in which there was no ovulation or it may be a sign of a pregnancy. It is important to know that each person is unique in having their periods and while it may be as long as seven days for some people, it may be a heavy two-day flow for others.
The usual period therefore, can vary greatly in length but most women have their flow lasting between three and five days. Even among first degree relatives such as a sibling or a mother, the normal length of the period amongst them can vary widely and not bear any similarity at all.
That said, there are people who menstruate every 42 days and are able to get pregnant even though that is clearly not normal.
When a shorter period occurs, it could be a result of a pregnancy as we have seen above but can often occur also after a delayed period or a missed one. Depending on the volume of blood loss, such bleeding could be the result of the loss of a pregnancy or simple spotting due to an early pregnancy.
In many women, such bleeding associated with pregnancy can occur throughout the first three months, known as the first trimester, when about one quarter of all pregnant women can bleed. If such bleeding is seen at about two weeks after a period was expected or when the normal period was expected, it may then be an early pregnancy spotting or a delayed implantation bleeding.
This occurrence is referred to as being delayed because such bleeding associated with implantation should typically occur midway between ovulation and implantation. However, if all women take the attitude that any vaginal bleeding that is less than two days and longer than seven is not good news, a lot more misunderstanding will be avoided.
And although such bleeding can often be a normal occurrence during early pregnancy as explained above, it may also indicate the loss of a pregnancy and in either situation, a doctor should be consulted for necessary advice and action.
The same is true for those women who begin to observe some changes with their periods especially at the age range from 45 to 55 years of age when the cycles can become shorter. When the cycles thus become shorter and less frequent, it is generally known that the menopause is approaching and there ought to be no need to worry unduly.
When these changes are seen, it is often due to the period known as the climacteric in which the body is essentially being prepared for the menopause.
We dealt with the issue of the menopause about five years ago on this page and many of the associated features such as hot flushes, difficulty with sleeping, night sweats, vaginal dryness, emotional turmoil and reduced libido are added occurrences that make it easy to diagnose. Consequently, it is not all the time that a diminished blood flow spells trouble.
Another possible cause of the short period is the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) seen in as many as one in 10 of women of reproductive age. This malady can change the length of a woman’s period and may lengthen it or shorten it apart from also causing it to become irregular.
Other features associated with the constellation of problems seen in this disease are obesity, an oily skin, infertility, excess hair growth around the body especially in the legs, chest and even chin as well as the appearance of cysts on the ovaries which are sacs of water in essence.
When the ovaries do not release an egg, such a woman does not have regular periods. This typically occurs in those who are approaching menopause and their periods then become irregular.
Other features of this problem may be chills, pelvic pain and both bowel and bladder dysfunction as well as vaginal discharge. These problems can also be seen in younger women who have suffered from premature menopause.
Another possible cause of an abnormally shorter period than what a woman is used to having is endometriosis which is diagnosed when the normal tissue seen in the uterus also begins to grow elsewhere in the body such as the ovaries, the uterus, vagina, bladder, rectum, cervix and in the intestines.
Occasionally, these tissues can even be found in the lungs, brain and skin. This problem causes bleeding or spotting of blood in between periods that often makes people think that they are experiencing a shorter period than normal. Sometimes, there is related bleeding from the navel during the menstrual period.
However, when other symptoms such as pain, inability to get pregnant and digestive problems become associated with the short periods, then a diagnosis of the problem is all but certain. The treatment for such will involve an operation and hormonal treatment.