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Wait A Minute... Is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter?

Wait A Minute... Is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter?

Written by Yoppie

14 Mar 2022

How long is my menstrual cycle supposed to be? 

Is my menstrual cycle getting shorter??

Weird! What’s the reason? 

What could this mean?

Should I see a doctor? 

Should I track my cycle? 

What can I do about an irregular cycle? 

So your period’s arrived, but you’re not due for another three days… why isn’t your cycle syncing up with the calendar you’ve been keeping? It might not be your imagination after all. Let’s take a look at why your menstrual cycle may be getting shorter, what this could mean, and if it’s anything to worry about. 

How long is my menstrual cycle supposed to be? 

… how long is a piece of tampon string?? No two people have the same cycle, so while you might have short and light periods, someone else might have long and heavy ones. Whatever the case, it’s totally normal. 

Your cycle is counted from day 1 of your bleed through to day 1 of your next bleed. This can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days, with a bleed lasting anything from 2 to 7 days. Your cycle may also be irregular due to your age, as it tends to be somewhat unpredictable in the first few years of menstruating. For some, an irregular cycle is normal.

Is my menstrual cycle getting shorter??

You may not be imagining it. Your menstrual cycle can get shorter, so if you have always experienced a fairly regular cycle and notice your bleed days coming a lot sooner than anticipated, then there is often a reason this is happening. 

Weird! What’s the reason? 

Your menstrual cycle is made up of four phases (the menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases) - it’s the ovulation phase that’s in question here. When an egg is released from the ovary during ovulation, the follicle from which it came produces progesterone to thicken the uterine lining so a fertilised egg can implant. If this doesn’t happen, the follicle dies, progesterone levels fall, and a period occurs. If something affects ovulation, you may get your period sooner. 

What could this mean?

In lots of cases shorter periods are common and nothing to worry about, and could simply indicate one of the following:

  • A change in birth control - if you have just started or recently switched to another type of birth control, this could alter the length of your cycle
  • You’re still going through puberty - Those who have just started having periods may experience a shorter than average cycle 
  • You’re in perimenopause - When in your 40s, the ovaries will slow their production of estrogen, leading to potentially shorter and lighter periods until menopause
  • You’re breastfeeding - If you have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, your hormones will change and you may experience a shorter cycle, or no periods at all
  • You’re on a new medication - Some anti-inflammatory medications reduce the production of prostaglandins (chemicals that trigger the uterus to contract and shed its lining), and have occasionally been found to delay periods by a couple of days

If none of these apply to your situation, and your periods have become shorter over several months, then it’s worth getting your GP to check for the following conditions:

  • PCOS - One of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome is irregular periods. If you also experience weight gain, excess body hair, hair loss on the head, acne, fertility issues or other odd symptoms, speak to your doctor to rule this out
  • Uterine scarring - This can occur due to a condition called Asherman’s syndrome, which happens after certain medical procedures or treatments. Scar tissue forms in the uterus and decreases the amount of space inside, leading to shorter periods
  • Thyroid disorder - This condition affects the thyroid gland which is responsible for metabolism, by making the thyroid hormone travel via your blood to the rest of the body. Those with a thyroid disorder may get symptoms including irregular periods
  • Implantation bleeding - Shorter periods are sometimes reported in the very early stages of pregnancy, as the blood that appears due to the egg implanting in the uterus is often mistaken for an early period
  • Physical or mental stress - Stress is often overlooked as a source of period issues, but has been found to affect the cycle. Whether you’re exercising excessively (physical stress), or you’re stressed about work life (mental stress), this can trigger your cycle to change and potentially shorten

Should I see a doctor? 

Short periods generally aren’t a worry, but if you’re used to a regular cycle and notice your periods continue to come earlier than expected (and you’re not going through puberty or perimenopause) then this could be something to speak to your doctor about, just in case.

You should always see your doctor if your periods stop suddenly and don’t come back for more than 90 days (and you’re not pregnant), your bleed lasts more than 7 days, you start to bleed more heavily than usual or soak through more than one pad or tampon every hour or two, you notice spotting between periods, or you get severe pain during your period. 

Should I track my cycle? 

One of the best things you can do for your cycle is to track it to find out what’s normal for you. Use a calendar to note your bleed days and any symptoms arising throughout the month. Note how long your period lasts, how light or heavy it is, how often you need to change tampons or towels, and so on. Having a clear indication of these changes can help your doctor find out what’s going on.

What can I do about an irregular cycle? 

If your cycle is annoyingly irregular and you’ve already ruled out any underlying conditions or reasons, then birth control pills could help to regulate your cycle. Your doctor may recommend these but if not, ask for more information to find out what’s right for you.  

In summary, shorter periods are probably fine! But it doesn’t hurt to check if you’re worried. If you have any questions about irregular periods we haven’t answered here, chat to us and others in our Full Stop FB group, or get in touch with us directly on Instagram at @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised menstrual cycle care subscription box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements, and much more. delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, so you're never caught short on the essentials.

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