Throughout the years, you’ve probably heard the term menstrual cycle a thousand times. But, what actually is the menstrual cycle?
A woman’s menstrual cycle starts with the first day of the period and ends when the next period begins. Your period starts when you first begin to bleed.
Whether you love it, hate it, or are completely indifferent towards it, the menstrual cycle is simply a part of every woman's life.
Even though every woman has a menstrual cycle, there's really no such thing as a "normal" cycle; everyone’s is unique.
That being said, the majority of women experience menstrual cycles that span between 21 and 35 days. The actual time frame of your period usually lasts three to seven days.
Still, if you've always had regular periods, it can be a bit shocking when your cycle all of a sudden is shorter than usual, and your period begins earlier than before.
So why might this happen, and what does it mean? 🤔
Reasons why your cycle might be shorter
1. You're exercising a lot.
Under most circumstances, exercise does not affect the menstrual cycle in any significant way. It’s even recommended to do light exercise during your period. But extreme exercising, like training for a marathon or a competition, can interrupt your cycle, as your estrogen levels can become suppressed. When estrogen levels are affected, the uterine lining does not build up as much as it normally should, leading to less shedding and a shorter period.
2. Your stress levels are high.
It’s not breaking news that extreme stress can affect your cycle. 😰 Depending on how your body reacts to excess cortisol, your ovulation can either be interrupted or delayed.
3. You are in perimenopause.
Perimenopause, which usually occurs in your forties, is the phase before menopause. Your periods begin to get shorter and lighter, because your ovaries start to slow their production of estrogen.
4. You're taking new medication.
There are several medications that have the potential to shorten your period. 💊 Hormonal birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, thyroid medications, antidepressants, and medications to treat epilepsy are known to affect your period.
5. You are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding may cause skipped periods or shorter cycles. Nursing a baby suppresses reproductive hormones that usually stimulate ovulation. Lack of ovulation leads to not having a menstrual cycle.
Wait a minute, when should I go to a doctor?
While it’s perfectly normal to have occasional fluctuations in the length and flow of your period, if your periods are consistently shorter and lighter than before, pay a visit to your doctor.
In the meantime, what can I do?
One of the best things you can do is to keep track of your cycle to find out what’s normal for you. Within the Eative app, we have a calendar where you can log the days you bleed, in addition to tracking any other symptoms you experience throughout the month. We’ll even give you tips personalized to your unique symptoms!
If you’re feeling anxious or having any doubts about your cycle, it doesn’t hurt to see your doctor! We don’t want you to add unnecessary stress to your life 🤗