Periods can be messy — both figuratively and literally — and while some months you may experience a heavier or longer period, others may be super short with minimal bleeding. But how can you tell if your period is too short? For example, if your period only lasted two days instead of five, what does that say about your health?
A two-day period isn’t necessarily a sign to panic, but it’s understandable to be concerned. Erica Montes, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at Honor Health Scottsdale Shea Hospital, told POPSUGAR that short periods lasting an average of two days can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which are common occurrences, like starting a new medication or a going through a stress-inducing lifestyle change. Other times, having a period only last two days can be a sign of something more serious like pregnancy or perimenopause.
To save you the obsessive Google search, “why was my period only two days this month?”, we rounded up some of the most common reasons why your period only lasted two days. Plus, when to see a doctor about a shorter period.
Why Was My Period Only 2 Days This Month?
Most people will have their period between three and seven days, according to the Cleveland Clinic. But as Dr. Montes stated, a two-day period can happen for a number of reasons, including the following:
This is a type of abnormal uterine bleeding that occurs during your menstrual cycle despite the ovaries not releasing an egg. This type of bleeding can be short-lived, but it is typically caused by hormonal imbalances, per the Cleveland Clinic. Anovulation is marked by irregular periods that can be very heavy or very light. Missing periods altogether is also associated with the condition, as well as irregular basal body temperature and a lack of cervical mucus (aka the vaginal discharge that typically occurs before or during ovulation). About one-third of people with a uterus who are of childbearing age experience anovulatory bleeding, the Clinic reports. Treatment to address the bleeding can range from lifestyle changes like stress management to the prescription of certain hormone medications and injections.
Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
If over time you notice that your periods are getting shorter — and you’re also experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness — you may be showing signs of premature ovarian insufficiency. This happens when the ovaries stop working normally before age 40, Dr. Montes explained. Treatment typically involves addressing the side effects of the condition, per the Mayo Clinic. So doctors may suggest estrogen therapy (which can curb symptoms of osteoporosis, the result of low estrogen, and provide hot flash relief) or calcium and vitamin D (which again can help prevent and address osteoporosis). It’s important to note that premature ovarian insufficiency is different from premature menopause, although the two are often confused. “Women with primary ovarian insufficiency can have irregular or occasional periods for years and might even get pregnant. But women with premature menopause stop having periods and can’t become pregnant,” Mayo Clinic differentiates.
Seemingly short periods can also be a sign of implantation bleeding, which takes place during the early stages of pregnancy, Dr. Montes tells POPSUGAR. “Spotting often occurs at or near the time that a menstrual period would be expected,” Dr. Mones explained, meaning it might seem like you’ve started your period, when in reality, the bleeding is a result of a fertilized egg attaching to the endometrium (aka implantation bleeding). If you think your “two-day period” is in fact not a period at all but the result of implantation bleeding, take a home pregnancy test. For best results, the American Pregnancy Association recommends waiting three days after the bleeding/spotting stops before taking a pregnancy test.
Perimenopause is “the timeframe surrounding the last menstrual period,” Jennifer Howell, MD, an ob-gyn specializing in menopause at Duke Health previously told POPSUGAR. During this time your hormones are fluctuating, which can result in irregular periods, including those pesky two-day ones, in addition to hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, migraines, mood changes, and more. Perimenopause is a natural occurrence, but if it’s causing you discomfort, your healthcare provider should be able to recommend treatment, ranging from hormonal birth control and hormone replacement therapy to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to address more severe PMS symptoms.
Changes to your lifestyle, like increasing your activity level or taking on a new commitment that’s causing you stress, can actually impact your period. When under stress, your body produces cortisol. And “depending on how your body tolerates stress, the cortisol may lead to delayed or light periods — or no period at all (amenorrhea),” ob-gyn Swapna Kollikonda, MD explained in a Cleveland Clinic interview. An increase in exercise, particularly cardio-focused workouts, can also impact your flow. “These types of exercises can stabilize hormone levels, causing less lining or endometrium to grow inside the uterus,” Shaunna Mason, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn in Texas previously told POPSUGAR. And over time, this reduction in lining shed during your period could translate to a lighter flow altogether.
If you recently added a new medication to your regimen, it could be the reason for your shorter periods. Hormonal birth controls (including IUDs) and other prescription medications (like those for anxiety or thyroid issues) can also cause a change in your period. If you’re concerned that your new medications are causing major changes to your period, be sure to flag it to your healthcare provider.
Other underlying conditions
It’s also possible that your two-day period is the result of another underlying condition. Hormonal disorders like PCOS or thyroid disease, for example, can result in fluctuating periods (they can be light, heavy, or irregular).
Dr. Montes also emphasized that shorter periods don’t necessarily translate to lighter periods. “It depends on the cause,” she tells POPSUGAR. “For example, thyroid disease and PCOS could potentially make your period heavier, whereas you might have less bleeding if you [have] premature ovarian insufficiency.”
Other conditions like an ovarian cyst, an ectopic pregnancy, or a misscarriage could also cause irregular bleeding. If you think any of these conditions could be the cause, it’s best to see your healthcare provider.
When to See a Doctor About Shorter Periods
While bleeding for just a couple days can seem like a reprieve, it could be a sign of something more serious. Dr. Montes recommends talking to your doctor if you have three short periods in a row, or if the bleeding is so heavy that you need more than one pad in an hour, you’re experiencing severe cramps, or you develop any other new or unusual symptoms.
— Additional reporting by Alexis Jones