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my periods have shortened. what could be causing this?

By November 3, 2009 - 3:13pm
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so, i'm somewhat concerned. usually, my periods last around 4-5 days, with a moderate flow. i just became sexually active this past june, and since then, my periods have not been quite right. my past six periods have all lasted around 2-3 days, will less flow than usual. the color is normal red, and there is sometimes some clotting, but it's not the same as it has been. i'm somewhat irregular, but never have had a shortened period prior to becoming sexually active.

i have PMS symptoms before hand (sore breasts, irritability, headaches, back aches) that go away with the bleeding. also, i have my usual cramps. none of that is out of the ordinary, just the length/flow. i've taken 4 pregnancy tests, all of which were negative. my doctor performed a pelvic exam and also said there were no signs of pregnancy.

i know this might be stress, but this has been going on for around 4 months now. i'm NOT on any form of birth control pills. what can be causing this? please help!

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Women's cycles change, sometimes for no "apparent" reason, and the normal changes can include blood flow that is different in color (red, pink, brown); longer/shorter in duration; lighter/heavier in amount; occurs with or without pre-menstrual symptoms. All of these changes can occur over time, can occur seemingly suddenly, or can alternate between cycles.

When to know when there is a problem? Abnormal periods are defined by either absence of menses, amenorrhea (no period for 3 months)...or include the other extreme with heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding lasting longer than 7 days, or is painful.

Having a period that is shorter in duration (2-3 days is normal), is lighter or different color can all be normal and healthy. The change in color really depends on the rate of flow (darker blood, even as dark as brown, only indicates blood that has been around longer...thus the flow is slower...compared to the bright red blood).

Sexual activity does not alter anything with your menstrual cycle, so you do not need to worry that you are messing up your system. As long as you are using condoms to protect yourself from any infections or diseases, then your reproductive organs will not be harmed by normal sexual activity.

I am happy to talk more in-depth about your menstrual cycle being separate from sexual activity, if you are interested!

And, it would make sense that you would have negative pregnancy tests, as you have not missed a period. A missed period is the first sign of pregnancy; menstrual bleeding (even light, change in color, change in symptoms) does not indicate a pregnancy! I am curious what your doctor told you; did you ask him/her about your change in menstrual cycle and recent sexual activity? Did you explain that you had your period, have taken multiple pregnancy tests, but are still worried/concerned about your health? Were you provided with helpful information?

Please let me know if I answered all of your questions, or if you need more information.

November 3, 2009 - 4:06pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

thank you very much for your response! it really did put my mind at ease. my doctor told me things along the lines of what you did, but i'm just one that worries way too much. i should have figured that a doctor would know what they're talking about. thank you for clarifying that sexual activity and changes in your menstrual cycle do not correlate. i forgot to ask my doctor this, and i had heard stories of it messing with your cycle. so again, thank you for the thorough response!

November 3, 2009 - 4:30pm
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