When most of us complain about our periods, we talk about those heavy flow days and the bloating, cramping, and exhaustion that can go along with them. So if your period suddenly becomes very light the whole time, it might seem like a good thing. While less bleeding may very well make you more comfortable, it could be a sign something’s gone awry.
FYI, the scientific term for abnormally low bleeding is hypomenorrhea. Here are reasons that might explain why your flow is so light.
Unusually light periods or spotting could also indicate an ectopic pregnancy (when an egg implants somewhere other than the uterus), which can be very dangerous. When in doubt, take a pregnancy test.
You’ve lost or gained a ton of weight.
Despite being capable of carrying another human being to term, your body’s chemistry is really quite delicate, and when you add or subtract a bunch of poundage from it, it can freak out. One of the ways that manifest is by denying you your monthly visit from Auntie Flow, or by making those visits a lot shorter or lighter.
You’re stressed to the max.
While the usual day-to-day annoyances like having a fight with your spouse or blowing a presentation at work aren’t enough to throw your hormones out of whack, major life stressors—for example, your parents dying—can do just that. She also points out that over-exercising can also wreak havoc on your period because of the stress it puts on your body, physically.
You’re using hormonal birth control.
One of the most common reasons for a lighter period is going on the birth control pill; some doctors even prescribe it to women with very heavy periods for that exact reason. If you’ve recently started the pill or gotten a hormonal IUD like Mirena and your periods have lightened up, just enjoy it.
You have polycystic ovary syndrome.
PCOS is a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormally large amount of androgens, which are male sex hormones. Some (but not all) women with PCOS will have small fluid-filled sacs, or cysts, form in the ovaries. These hormonal changes can prevent a woman from ovulating normally, which can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms, including acne or oily skin, weight gain, and excess body hair.
You’re getting older.
Don’t worry—this doesn’t mean you’re old! But when a patient mentions a diminishing return on her tampon/pad investment, the first thing an expert looks at is age. Menopause might be around the corner, but not always.
You lost a ton of blood during or after childbirth.
Losing a lot of blood deprives your body of oxygen, which can end up damaging the pituitary gland and causing something called Sheehan’s syndrome. That, in turn, drastically reduces the gland’s production of hormones, including those that control your menstrual cycle. You’ll probably need hormone replacement therapy.
The bottom line: While having a lighter period than normal isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, don’t ignore the change. Track your cycle for a couple of months, and if it doesn’t go back to “your” normal, make an appointment with your gynaecologist.