Scanty Menstruation: What It Means and When You Should Worry

A scanty menstruation is a period in which the duration of blood flow is two days or less or the amount of blood flow is less than 30 ml. The medical term to refer to this is “hypomenorrhea” and when the period takes more than 35 days to appear it is called “oligomenorrhea” – when the period takes less than 35 days to appear it can be considered normal. Why is the rule sparse? Is there cause for concern? We tell you!

Menstrual cycle: what should you know?

  • As we told you, a period or menstruation is considered normal or regular when the bleeding lasts between 2 and 7 days. The period usually occurs every 28 days, however, menstrual cycles are considered normal as long as they range between 21 and 35 days. When they go outside of that parameter, they become irregular.
  • In any case, whether your cycles are regular or irregular, it is advisable to write down when your period comes on a calendar or a mobile application so that you have a record of the days and how long it lasts. So you can keep a good control and detect in time when there is a significant change in the amount or regularity.
  • Remember that even if your period is quite stable, it is normal for one month to notice more pain or discomfort and more or less bleeding, and for another month, on the other hand, you hardly feel bad. On the other hand, premenstrual symptoms must be taken into account: fatigue, cramps, excessive appetite for sweet or salty, mood swings… since they are often more annoying than the period itself. Of course, we remind you that you do not have to normalize menstrual disorders. If they persist for more than 3 months, you should see a gynecologist to examine your case.
  • The menstrual cycle is usually more irregular at the extremes of reproductive life (menarche and menopause) due to anovulation and inadequate follicular development.

How does vaginal bleeding occur?

  1. Bleeding is variable in one woman and in another. Where some girls present abundant bleeding, in others it is much scanter or less durable over time. Generally, the first two days are the most abundant.
  2. During menstruation, the female body separates or sheds a part of the uterine lining (endometrium) that was formed to house a pregnancy. But since there is no pregnancy, it comes off at the end of the menstrual cycle.
  3. It is caused by an increase in prostaglandins, that is, substances that cause spasms in the blood vessels, produce tissue ischemia and, finally, cause uterine contractions that shed the unnecessary uterine lining and are expelled out of the vagina.

What is the sparse rule? Main causes 

  1. Each woman menstruates differently, but if your periods are too few or they last very little, you can go to your gynecologist to find out if you are within what is considered normal.
  2. What other reasons can there be for a rule to be scanty, light or sparse in bleeding? According to several studies, menstrual blood loss in a group of 244 women was only 11 mL after non-ovulating cycles, and the lowest menstrual blood loss measurements were in women who experienced anavulatory cycles or with abnormally low estrogen levels and altered estrogen and pogesterone secretion patterns.

Stress or a very fast pace of life

Yes, it turns out that stress, being under a lot of pressure at work or going from here to there in such a hurry with your nerves on top of you can cause your period to go out of order, making it less abundant than it really should be. And let’s not just say when you get bad news like a layoff or a family or health problem, that’s something that affects anyone!

Sudden weight changes

Losing weight quickly can cause your period to go from regular to irregular and from heavy or normal to scanty or light. Lowering the fat mass below the minimum can cause us to miss the rule.

Intense physical exercise

A caloric and nutritional maladaptation to excessive sports can cause you to have scant periods, and even lose your period temporarily.

Sleep disturbances

A sleep disturbance can alter the pulsatile secretion of hypothalamic hormones and produce anovulation, with a consequent alteration in the rule.

Bad nutrition

Caloric, protein and fat deficits can lead to hypomenorrhea or amenorrhea. It is important, in this sense, to maintain a balanced and varied nutrition and diet.

Contraceptive use

Contraceptives (including the morning after pill) have some influence on the period or menstruation. They can make them less abundant in terms of bleeding.

Taking certain medications

If you are taking medications such as for the thyroid, chemotherapy or other hormonal or analgesic treatments, it may be that there you find the reason why your bleeding is now lighter than in previous months.

Infertility problems

Infertility problems are more a consequence than a cause of low periods in general. It occurs when hormone levels are too low.

Other Common Health Problems That Can Cause Period Irregularities

Behind an abnormal period, there may be various health problems. In any case, it will be necessary to carry out blood tests to look for disorders that can affect the female reproductive system. That is why it is important that you pay attention to your period.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is more common than it seems and in addition to affecting periods it can be a problem when conceiving. The ovaries produce large amounts of the male hormone androgen. A pathology that is closely associated with obesity, infertility or excessive hair growth.
  • Premature ovarian failure. It usually occurs in women with cancer under the age of 40 and is a clear sign that the ovaries are not working properly.
  • It usually occurs in women older than 45 who may have increasingly frequent abnormal cycles, including hypomenorrhea or amenorrhea. Although up to 70% of women with perimenopause experience the opposite, known as heavy periods.

In any case, if you notice that your menstruation is scarce and you want to know what it means or when you should worry, the ideal is to consult your gynecologist in case of any doubt. The specialist will be the one in charge of carrying out the appropriate tests and thus be able to rule out or confirm what it is, beginning the treatment that is indicated for you as soon as possible, depending on your case.

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