The Why And How Of Scanty Periods


The why and how of scanty periods

scanty periods menstrual cycleBeing a women goes hand in hand in dealing with periods. Every month we have to go through the ordeal of blood discharge. We have to keep checking for stains, and keep going to the bathroom to change our sanitary pads and tampons. And to make it worse we have bouts of nausea, cramping, constipation, and even mood swings that make us curse everything around us.

Every women’s menstrual cycle is different and that is why the term “Light period” is relative. What may be normal for you, can be light for another women. Before you panic about little or next to no flow during your periods, you need arm yourself with more knowledge about scanty periods.

What is normal?

The usual duration of periods is 2-8 days and women bleed for 4-5 days on an average. The usual amount of menstrual discharge is 30-80 ml and most women have a discharge of 40-60 ml.

Bleeding for 2-3 days is as normal as bleeding for 4-6 days. If you have a regular cycle, bleeding for less days than your best friend is not a cause of worry. But, if your cycle changes suddenly, or your menstrual discharge is less than your normal amount of discharge, it may be time to see your gynecologist.

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Types of scanty periods

Medically, scanty periods can be categorized into three types:

  • Hypomenorrhea:

A scanty short period in which blood loss is less than 25 ml.

  • Oligomenorrhea:

Period that lasts for less than 3 days.

  • Opsomenorrhea:

A long gap of 5-8 weeks between two menstrual cycles

  • Spaniomenorrhea:

Rare periods that occur only 4-5 times a year.

Girls in formative years may have scanty periods because their cycle is yet to develop. Women nearing menopause age will also notice scanty periods; this is medically expected and there is no need to panic. Women who are in the reproductive age should however consult a doctor if they notice lighter than usual periods.

If you are between the ages of 20-40, and identify with any of these medical conditions, consulting a gynecologist is a must for your health and well being.

Causes of scanty periods

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It is well known that certain factors contribute in changes in the menstrual cycle. Hormonal changes, change in climate, stress, and certain medications can delay your periods or make them irregular. Scanty periods are also causes by changes in your body or environmental conditions. There are several causes of scanty periods that should be looked into.

  • Puberty:

Periods will be scanty, because the cycle is yet to fully develop. Irregular and scanty periods is pretty common in adolescent and teenage girls and is considered normal medically.

  • Pre-menopause:

Women nearing menopause will experience scanty periods and this too is an expected phenomenon.

  • Policystic Ovarian Syndrome:

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Tiny cysts form in the ovaries causing scanty periods and other symptoms like excessive growth of body hair, acne, weight gain, among other problems.

  • Hormonal changes:

Your body will go through hormonal changes which directly affects the nature of your period. Hormonal changes are very frequent in women and may start at the age of 12. Medicines, lifestyle changes, sudden weight loss or weight gain, sexual activities, pregnancies, menopause can bring hormonal misbalance in your body.

  • Excessive weight loss:

If weight loss is too sudden or excessive it might result in scanty periods. Your body may lack the nutrition it needs to function properly.

  • Intensive physical activity:

Women who are involved in excruciating physical activities like sports, labor work, intensive training and so on may experience scanty periods.

  • Stress:

This is a major cause for scanty or irregular periods.

  • Thyroid malfunctions:

Scanty periods may be related to thyroid problems.

  • Fritsch syndrome:

This is a rare condition that causes scanty periods and infertility problems in women. This may develop as a result of frequent abortions or infections in pelvic region organs.

  • Pelvic inflammations:

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Inflammation in pelvic organs can result in scanty periods and other problems in reproductive organs.

How do I know?

scanty periods padPractically speaking, we can’t measure the amount of discharge we have every month. A convenient way of understanding if there is a change blood discharge amount is observing the number of times you change your sanitary pad. If you notice that you don’t need to change your sanitary pads or tampons as often as you did earlier, you will need to investigate more into the nature of your periods.

A scanty period can be a onetime occurrence or can continue for a long time. If you notice less blood, and lesser days of periods, monitoring your periods for 3-4 months will help you understand the problem.

scanty periods

Take a note of the amount of discharge, number of days you discharge, cramps if any, and start and end dates of your periods. You may also notice a change in colour. It may be lighter or a deeper brownish colour. The odor may also vary.

Make sure you also take a note of other symptoms that you may have. You may have nausea, headaches, bloating, cramping, pelvic pain, or acidity. You may also notice acne, or redness in certain parts of the body.

Do take note of your levels of stress, any changes in environment and lifestyle, any sudden change in your weight or mood swings.

Being aware of your symptoms can help your gynecologist determine a treatment.


Treatment will depend on the diagnosis and cause of the problem. Your gynecologist may advise lifestyle changes, prescription medicines or a prolonged treatment. If you think you may have unnaturally scanty periods, a consult with your gynecologist is a must.

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