What are light periods?

Light periods are menstrual periods that have an unusually light flow or a very short duration of blood loss. Although the menstrual cycle varies from person to person, most women have a normal period approximately every 28 days. Each period typically lasts from four to seven days. The amount of blood lost during a menstrual period ranges from 20 to 80 milliliters (mL). Blood loss of less than 20 mL may be considered a light period.

A shift or imbalance in hormone levels is the main cause of light periods. Light periods most commonly affect women who are approaching menopause because at that time in their lives women produce less estrogen, one of the hormones that regulates menstrual periods. Light periods can also occur in girls who have just begun to menstruate. An eating disorder, excessive exercise, or a thyroid condition can also cause a woman to have light periods. Women who use hormonal contraceptives, including oral contraceptives, may also experience lighter periods.

Light periods are not the same as the complete absence of menstrual periods, medically known as amenorrhea.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911)

if you, or someone you are with, are pregnant and experience vaginal bleeding. If you are not pregnant, your health care provider will determine the cause of your light periods through a pelvic examination and other tests. If your light periods are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with light periods?

Light periods may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with light periods

Light periods may accompany other common symptoms including:

CAUSES

What causes light periods?

A shift or imbalance in hormone levels is the main cause of light periods, and this condition most often affects women who are approaching menopause. An eating disorder, excessive exercise, or a thyroid condition can also cause a woman to have light periods. Women who use hormonal contraceptives may also experience ligh... Read more about light periodscauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 5, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.