What You Should Know About A Very Light Period

From their early teens, women become accustomed to their own menstrual cycle and when a very light period suddenly occurs, it can cause many to wonder what is going on with their body. 

Each woman’s body has its own version of normal.  A menstrual cycle is typically expected to last between 21 and 35 days, with a bleeding period of between 3 to 7 days considered to be normal.  The first few years of menstrual cycles are a juggling act as the girl’s hormones fluctuate wildly.  After that, the body settles in to a more predictable timeframe.  For some girls, a period is a mere inconvenience of her normal lifestyle; for others, a period can signal a torturous time of cramping, heavy bleeding and overall feeling of illness.  When a very light period occurs, it is at once a welcome occasion as well as being a rather worrisome event.  What caused the change?

The Menstrual Cycle

While it can be different for each woman, the menstrual process itself serves an identical purpose:  to ready the body for procreation.  There are a few major organs involved in the process, the uterus, the ovaries and the fallopian tube.  Hormones are also highly instrumental in the cycle.

The first half of the cycle provides an increase in the amount of estrogen, which is the female hormone.  Estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to thicken so that in the event conception occurs, the fertilized egg will have a soft, nourishing and cushiony place to develop.  While this thickening is occurring in the uterus, the ovaries are busy as well.  An egg begins to mature; a process that takes about two weeks.  Around day 14 of the menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs, which means that the mature egg leaves the ovary and begins traversing through the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus.  On the trek, conception occurs if sperm reaches and permeates the mature egg, fertilizing it.  A fertilized egg will attach itself to the cushioned uterine wall and begin developing.  An egg that is not fertilized simply disintegrates and the unnecessary cushion of the uterine wall begins to shed off as blood and tissue; a menstrual period.  It will take anywhere between three to seven days for the process to be complete before the cycle begins once more.

Knowing Your Body

The menstrual cycle begins in a girl’s early teenage years but is erratic as puberty advances.  When the hormones begin to stabilize, periods begin to become standardized for that particular girl.  It is still possible to have a heavier or very light period from time to time as outward influences affect the hormonal structure.  Stress, emotions, diet and activity levels are all able to change the intensity and duration of a period. 

As a girl matures into a woman, her body has gotten into the rhythm of its monthly cycle and will, for the most part, be consistent in its monthly patterns.  She can generally be able to clock her cycle and predict when it will start, how long it will last and how light or heavy it will be.  This can be helpful when planning normal activities to be prepared for the menstrual flow and how she may need to adjust. 

Reasons For Cycle Changes

A very light period or a heavier period can still occur once or twice a year as a woman’s hormones adjust to yearly fluctuations.  There are also a few other situations that can be an influencing factor in the menstrual cycle.  

  • Stress.  As women mature and enter into the workplace stress will play a bigger role in her life and affect her periods.  Continued stress has an influence on numerous body functions, with overall health at risk.  Elevated stress levels can cause irregular or even missed periods, a condition called secondary amenorrhea.  Fortunately, this is able to be corrected by taking measures to reduce the amount of stress the woman is enduring.

  • Diet.  A woman’s perception of their body image may have a detrimental effect on the menstrual cycle if drastic dieting is practiced.  In extreme cases, women with anorexia will completely stop having periods.  Also, women who embark on a strictly raw diet, with high fruit and low fat have reported to have a very light period as compared to their pre-raw cycle.

  • Pregnancy.  It is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience light bleeding in the first month or two.  This bleeding is not considered to be a period since the normal cycle is not being completed.

  • Hormonal fluctuations.  Changes in estrogen levels can cause a very light period to occur.  In most cases, this is perfectly harmless; however, if the condition continues it is wise to bring it to the attention of your doctor.

  • Age.  As menopause approaches, it is normal for periods to become lighter and lighter as estrogen levels wane.

There are also medical conditions that can cause a change in the menstrual cycle such as ovarian cysts and tumors. 

When a very light period occurs upon occasion, it is not generally a cause for concern.  However, when continual fluctuations occur, your doctor should become involved to determine the reason behind the changes.