A lighter period is not usually a cause for concern, but it can sometimes be a sign of hormonal shifts or certain medical conditions. Most people experience a natural fluctuation in their menstrual periods from time to time, and it can happen with stress, weight loss or gain, or changes in birth control.
It can also be a sign of pregnancy. Spotting in early pregnancy is often caused by implantation bleeding, which may just seem like a light period.
Lighter than normal period blood can be pink, red, or brownish. It may or may not involve cramps and period pain.
This article explores the different reasons why your period may be lighter than usual. It also explains common causes for lighter periods and when to call a gynecologist.
Pregnancy is the most likely cause of a change in menstrual cycles for those who are sexually active. Some people may experience spotting or breakthrough bleeding in early pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding is often mistaken for a light period. Implantation is when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall.
- Occurs a few days before your period would normally appear
- Can vary in shade from light pinkish-red to bright red or a reddish-brown to dark brown
- May or may not be accompanied by cramps or pain
- Does not always occur or may not be noticeable
Cervical bleeding is another potential cause of light bleeding during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the cervix is more sensitive and may bleed after intercourse.
If you know you are pregnant, talk to an ob/gyn or midwife about any vaginal bleeding. Light spotting with pink or brown blood can be normal throughout pregnancy. Heavier bleeding, bright red or dark blood, and blood accompanied by cramping or pain can indicate a problem and should be seen promptly.
If you suspect that you're pregnant pregnancy due to a lighter-than-normal period, take a pregnancy test, especially if you have not been using birth control. If you test negative, you can wait a week and test again or wait to see if your period comes next month.
If you had a lighter-than-normal period, make a note of it. Pregnancies are dated by the last menstrual period. Mistaking implantation bleeding for a light period alters the expected due date and may mean you are further along than you thought. The wrong date can shift some tests and other parts of your prenatal care.
Weight Loss or Gain
If you have suddenly gained or lost a lot of weight, you may see a change in your menstrual cycle. If you're underweight, the loss in fat can cause you to stop ovulating or releasing an egg every month. Exercising too much can also affect your periods because it changes the hormone levels in your body.
How Weight Gain and Weight Loss Affect Your Period
Emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one, ormajor life stressors in work or your home life can take a toll on your body and affect your menstrual cycle.
Going on hormonal birth control can also cause a change in your period. It is not uncommon for people to experience lighter-than-usual periods and shorter periods while on a birth control pill or after getting a hormonal IUD, such as Mirena.
If a change in your period bothers you, you can use a birth control method that closely mimics your normal periods. Hormone-free options that should not or are less likely to affect your periods are also available, includinginternal and external condoms, a non-hormonalIUD device, and spermicidal foams.
Be sure to ask a midwife or doctor for advice on the method that is best for you.
Compare Birth Control Choices
If you are getting older, your periods may change, in some cases becoming lighter. This could mean that you are pre-menopausal. This does not necessarily mean you are no longer fertile, just that you are less likely to get pregnant. If you do not want to get pregnant, you should still use birth control until menopause.
What Is Perimenopause?
There are medical conditions, such ascervical stenosis or Asherman's syndrome, that may cause a lighter flow than expected, though cramping may still occur. Both are uncommon, but these conditions can cause menstrual blood to get trapped in the uterus.
Asherman's syndrome is most often caused by uterine scarring following a dilation and curettage procedure (D&C), in which tissues from the uterus are removed.
Consult with your doctor if you have a lighter period than normal but are still having intense cramps.
How to Make Your Period Come Faster
Your period can be lighter than normal due to natural reasons, such as stress or perimenopause. It can also be lighter because of the birth control you are using, particularly if you are taking hormonal birth control pills or using a hormonal IUD. If your period seems off and you're not sure why, let a doctor know.
A Word From Verywell
Even if your periods seem consistent, it's a good idea to take note of your period each month—how heavy it is, what period symptoms you are having, and how many days your period lasts. Consider downloading a period tracker app on your smartphone, or simply taking notes about your period in your calendar. This way, if something is unusual about your period one month, you'll be more likely to notice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you have a period while pregnant?
No, but some people have breakthrough bleeding that appears like a light period. Early pregnancy bleeding is very common and can appear like a light period. This is why some people do not always realize they are pregnant.
However, if you know you are pregnant and experience any bleeding, contact your ob/gyn or midwife for guidance. While most breakthrough bleeding in pregnancy is nothing to worry about, bleeding can also signify a more serious issue.
Why is my menstrual cycle getting shorter?
Aging is one reason for a shortened menstrual cycle. Starting in their 40s, some people can experience an irregular menstrual cycle that is shorter or longer than usual. It is also possible for a period to go away for a few months and then reappear. If you are at all worried about your menstrual cycle, contact your healthcare provider.
Can you make your period lighter?
Yes, it is possible to make your period lighter. Regular exercise causes hormonal changes to occur which may result in a lighter period. Weight loss that accompanies exercise can also lead to a lighter period. In some cases, intense exercise performed regularly may even stop periods from happening. However, the opposite is also a possibility—intense exercise can result in bleeding that happens while you are not on your period.
Learn More:How Exercise May Change Your Period
What is considered a light period flow?
What is considered a light period flow will differ from one person to another. That said, on average there are about two or three tablespoons of blood lost by a person on their period. Some people may have lighter periods than the average, while others can have heavier periods. This can also change from one month to the next.
Why Is My Period Late While I'm on Birth Control?
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Office on Women's Health. Underweight.
Nelson AL, Massoudi N. New developments in intrauterine device use: focus on the US.Open Access J Contracept. 2016;7(1):127-141. doi:10.2147/OAJC.S85755
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Bleeding During Pregnancy.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Office on Women's Health. Your Menstrual Cycle.
By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.
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Periods that are lighter than usual are not normally a cause for concern. People often find that their menstrual flow varies from month to month, and some months are simply lighter than others. In some cases, a
A light period could be a sign of problems with hormone levels or another medical condition. Polycystic ovary syndrome and issues with reproductive organs can lead to irregular periods. Discussing symptoms with your doctor may help you determine the cause of lighter than normal periods.What illness causes lighter periods? ›
Any condition that affects your hormones, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia and others can affect your menstrual cycle phases and, in turn, how light your monthly bleed is.What period can tell about your health? ›
Heavy bleeding can sometimes be related to medical conditions or concerns like bleeding disorders, uterine fibroids and uterine polyps. Heavy bleeding with an irregular pattern may indicate a thyroid or hormone disorder.
People may experience lighter periods when their estrogen levels are low. This is because estrogen increases the thickness of the uterus lining. Irregular periods. People may have irregular periods, spotting between periods, or both, when the uterus lining grows thicker than usual.Does light periods mean infertility? ›
A light period is a period that lasts less than two days, and there is very little blood during this time. Light periods do not usually mean that you are less fertile, but it can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant.Why was my period only 2 days this month? ›
Bleeding for only a day or two may be a sign of pregnancy, but there are many other possible causes, too. If you're concerned about your shorter than usual period, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can help you figure out what's triggering the change and start treatment, if needed.Do lighter periods mean menopause? ›
Generally, women experience lighter and less frequent periods as they enter menopause, which eventually causes a woman's periods to stop altogether. To help understand these hormonal fluctuations, we've put together a list of the most common perimenopausal period changes to help you prepare for the change.Why is my period so light this month and brown? ›
“The primary reason that period blood could be brown is because it's old blood,” said Dr. Cummings. It usually happens at the beginning or the end of your period, when your flow is lighter. Because the longer blood takes to leave the body, the longer it has to oxidize (read: get exposed to oxygen), which makes it dark.Why is my period lighter in my 30s? ›
Periods getting shorter and lighter as you get closer to your late 30s is a completely normal occurrence. This is because you're entering perimenopause, the transitional period before the actual menopause, and lighter periods in 30s are a natural part of the said transition.
While the infection itself may not affect your period, it is still possible for a period to be delayed when sick with a UTI. This is because the stress a UTI places on your body can impact your menstrual cycle.Why is there no blood on my pad but blood when I wipe? ›
Spotting is light bleeding that can occur between periods. It usually appears as a small amount of blood when wiping or on underwear. Possible causes include birth control, pregnancy, menopause, and more.What are the jelly clots in my period? ›
Mixed with menstrual blood may be bits of tissue from the uterine lining. Thus, what appears to be a blood clot may actually be a clump of shed tissues or a mixture of clots and tissues. These jelly-like globs are normal and usually nothing to be concerned about.What the Colour of your period tells about your health and fertility? ›
Dark Purplish Red
This can be seen in women with a history of fibroids and endometriosis. Women with very dark menstrual blood may have difficulties with fertility and conceiving, and may also put the mother at a greater risk for clotting problems that can affect the placenta in pregnancy.
If you're dealing with stress after you ovulate, your hormone levels are thrown out of whack. You can experience spotting, a period that arrives early, or a period that differs from your norm in terms of consistency, length, color, and/or symptoms like cramping.Is it normal to have a light period in early pregnancy? ›
Hormonal bleeding is when some women experience a light bleed at around four to eight weeks of pregnancy, or around the time their period would have been due. This can be very confusing for women who are pregnant and is the reason many women do not realise they are pregnant for a while. Again, it is totally normal.What is a light vs heavy period? ›
A light flow is when you're not bleeding a lot. A heavier flow is the opposite. It's more blood and you may be soaking through your tampon or pad more often. My flow is a lot lighter toward the end of my period and a panty liner is all I need, and at the beginning of my period, a heavier absorbency tampon is necessary.Why does my period only show when I wipe? ›
You may have spotting for a few days leading up to your period while your uterus prepares to shed its lining. After your period, the bleeding may taper off slowly. You may only notice a little blood on the toilet paper you use to wipe, or you may see stains accumulate on your underwear throughout the day.