What Causes Lighter Menstrual Periods?

Posted on Updated on 25 June, 2017

The light menstrual period usually indicates a little or tiny menstrual discharge which may last for one to two days. A light period is characterized by a bleeding phase that lasts less than a couple of days. The bleeding is like spotting or extremely light. It can also occur in between your missed period and a regular flow period. Some women can experience light periods more frequently than the usual 21 to 35 days cycle.

In many cases, women may inherit this tendency genetically. You may just find out that a closer relative like your mother, aunt or sister have the same issues. However, this is nothing to be concerned about. A genetic inheritance of scanty period problems with a light blood flow is rather seen as normal. But this should not let to give in to doubts that it is a sign of infertility. Women with regular light periods get pregnant and give birth to healthy babies like the rest.

In other circumstances, scanty periods can indicate various other conditions. An unusual light period with light pink or dark brown colored blood could indicate a possible pregnancy. If you are also experiencing nausea, lightheadedness, headache and lower abdominal cramps, it could be a positive pregnancy sign. However, there could be various other reasons too which we will shortly explore.

Very light period often happens when you are in puberty. At this stage, the menstrual cycle is just establishing itself. At the other end, it could also happen during your menopause when you are gradually coming off the child-bearing age and its functionalities. Biologically, during both these phases, the endometrium lining is ill-developed and is ovulation is irregular. During menopause, the lack of sex hormone estrogen is another triggering factor.

Sometimes, light menstruation is called oligomenorrhea. Although it is thought to be normal, it may indicate the woman’s body is undergoing hormonal fluctuations owing to poor nutrition, stress or medical conditions.

Is Lighter Menstruation Always A Gynecological Condition?

Experiencing lighter flow of menstrual blood is not always a sign of gynecological condition like a disease or an abnormality. In some cases, it is the body’s way of adjusting to the new conditions, external or internal. Many women get a light period or miss their period when they have undergone a recent stress or during trips. Often, thyroid disorders can trigger lighter menstruation. In this case, the gynecologist may recommend you to an endocrinologist to get the hormone levels tested along with a pelvic ultrasound.

Causes of Lighter Menstruation Periods

A normal menstrual cycle lasts from 3 to 7 days. During this time, 50 to 150 ml of blood is discharged. However, in the case of a light period, your body will lose approximately 30 to 50 ml of blood. Here are some possible causes of lighter menstrual periods –


If your period has been delayed and followed up late with a rather scanty flow called spotting, it could indicate a possible pregnancy. Note how your body feels during this time. Is there any lightheadedness, morning sickness, and abdominal cramping? Are you experiencing headaches and frequent urination too? If your body has raised basal body temperature and is showing all or few of these symptoms, it could mean you are pregnant. While you could always take a home pregnancy test, remember that the low level of chorionic gonadotropin can yield an incorrect negative result. It is best to go for a urine test or a laboratory blood test for the most accurate results.

Hormonal Contraception

Oral contraceptives, as well as intrauterine devices, have the capability to lessen the abundance of period blood and disturb the cycle. This may cause light periods.


If a woman of child-bearing age has a scanty period which occurs lesser than even once in 35 days, it could be a symptom of infertility. However, this condition could also be temporary triggered by stress, certain diseases, overworking or inflammatory conditions to name a few. Long term conditions indicated severe hormonal dysfunction which can affect the neuroendocrine system, causing infertility.

Cervical Stenosis

This rare condition occurs when the cervix narrows or closes up. This traps the blood in the uterus which trickles down very slowly. Sometimes, this is also accompanied by a severe cramping.

Extreme Diets

Strict diets can sometimes cause the deficiency of essential nutrients like microelements and vitamins. This can trigger a scanty period. Low body fat may also disrupt the normal flow of blood during menstruation. This condition is called amenorrhea.

Scar Tissues in Uterus

In rare conditions, after some women have undergone dilation and curettage procedures, some complications can result. Severe scarring of uterus tissue can cause the walls of the uterus to stick to each other. This condition is called Asherman’s syndrome. Surgery is usually necessary to treat this condition.

Chronic Endometritis

If you have been using intrauterine devices for a long time or have had an abortion or undergone surgical interventions in the uterine cavity, this can cause certain infections. This may lead to strong pelvic pains with the rise in the basal body temperature. When this condition remains untreated, it can turn chronic and scanty period is a common symptom.

Blood Loss After Childbirth

Although this is a rare condition if you have lost a lot of blood during or after childbirth, your body has seriously become deprived of oxygen. This can cause damage to the pituitary gland and lead to Sheehan’s syndrome. This disrupts the normal functioning of the gland which affects the production of hormones. Some of these hormones are directly associated with the menstrual cycle. In such a case, a hormone replacement therapy can be the only treatment.

Things to Do

If you suddenly experience light period, there are certain things to do. If you have been sexually active it is a good idea to do a pregnancy test. Even if you do not get the test positive but other symptoms raise doubts, it is advisable to see the gynecologist. Getting some healthy body movements are rather recommended as a healthy dose activities keep your body fit. Get active by taking brisk walks every day. Give up on any crash diets and keep stress at bay. Overworking is also not a good thing to do especially when your lighter periods can indicate underlying health issues. This is probably the body’s way of telling you to calm down and relax. You can soak your feet in a warm bath for 15 minutes and do this every day until your expected day of the period. To stimulate the production of the hormone, indulge in aromatherapy with the essential oils of marjoram and juniper.

When to See the Doctor?

A period lighter than normal is not always a cause for alarm. Having said that it is not meant that you ignore this change though! While it is always recommended to see a doctor but if you would rather like to wait you can. But, it is important to keep track of your cycle for the next couple of months. If your period doesn’t return to your normal flow, see the doctor without further delay.