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Sexual Health

menopause and shorter periods

By | Fact Checked |

Have you recently noticed a change in your periods? Are you having shorter periods? More time between your periods? Well, there could be a change a-coming!

What are shorter periods?

Menstrual periods and cycles are different for every woman, and they frequently are different month to month for the same woman. If your period typically lasts 4 to 5 days, a shorter period for you may be 2 to 3 days. Cycle length is generally about 28 days, although this can vary between women as well. Along with shorter periods, some women may also experience a shorter cycle length, with the cycle starting every 2 to 3 weeks instead of 4. 

Read about menopause and lighter periods

Several factors may be underlying these differences. Use of birth control pills, for example, can impact the length of a woman’s period. Other causes can include excessive stress, smoking, extreme exercise, eating an unhealthy diet, being overweight, being underweight, breastfeeding, and the use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and chemotherapy. 

Various medical conditions can result in shorter periods or irregular bleeding. They include uterine fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid disease, pituitary disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, and eating disorders. 

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One of the most common reasons for shorter periods is the approach of perimenopause. 

How are shorter periods associated with perimenopause?

As estrogen levels begin to decline, the lining of the uterus becomes thinner. This results in shorter and lighter periods. At the same time, hormonal changes result in less frequent ovulation, so you will begin to notice fewer monthly periods as well. Progesterone production also declines during perimenopause, and for some women, this may mean less frequent but heavier periods. Over time, however, women experience shorter and lighter periods as they get closer to menopause.  

Read about menopause and heavier periods

How to manage shorter periods naturally

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the changes in a woman’s period is that it is unpredictable. Along with shorter periods often comes a change in blood flow and the amount of time between periods. 

That’s why it’s recommended you be prepared at all times. Carry pads, panty liners, and/or tampons with you at all times. Some women find that the new period-proof panties are a lifesaver (and clothes saver!). 

You may also want to keep a chart of your periods so you can better prepare for cycle changes. There are apps that can make this easier for you, which you can review here.

When to call your doctor

If you are experiencing abnormally heavy bleeding, bleeding that lasts for more than eight days, bleeding that occurs more often than every three weeks, or blood or other discharge that has a foul smell, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Be sure to discuss any unusual discomfort or symptoms that disrupt your daily life with your healthcare provider. 

Bottom line

With the arrival of perimenopause comes various changes to your menstrual cycle, including shorter periods. It’s all part of the natural scheme…so go with the flow!

  • Bradley S et al. The 11 best period tracker apps to get to know your cycle, according to OB-GYNs. Womens Health Magazine 2022 Jul 25
  • Jones B. Reasons your period is shorter than normal. VeryWellHealth 2023 May 3
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office on Women's Health. Period problems.
Lisa is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who focuses on helping women find relief in perimenopause and menopause. Lisa has more than eight years of experience in the health and wellness space. She is also in perimenopause and experiences the occasional hot flashes, some anxiety, and irregular cycles. She is passionate about listening to her body, eating as much of a whole-food diet as possible, and exercising for strength and longevity.