6 Common Reasons for Lighter Periods

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A lighter period than normal can be caused by many things, including pregnancy, stress, illness, and other things. Sometimes a woman will have spotting and think her period is about to start and not see any more bleeding. This can be implantation bleeding, which is the earliest sign of pregnancy, that is sometimes mistaken for a menstrual cycle. It can also be that your period simply is lighter that month.

There are numerous reasons that your cycle might be different. Here are a few of the common ones.

causes of a lighter period
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin


If you experience any form of an abnormal period, take a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test is the best way to tell if you are pregnant or not. This method is not expensive. Pregnancy is the most likely cause of something being different in your cycle, particularly if you have not been using birth control.

To get the best results, it might be best to wait until you miss your next period. This can be a home pregnancy test or a pregnancy test from your healthcare provider, midwife, or health department. In most cases, you do not have to notify anyone of the test or the results.

Even if you know you're pregnant, if you had a lighter-than-normal period, you should tell your healthcare provider or midwife. This can alter your due date, making you further along or less further along than you had previously thought. Having the wrong date can shift some tests and other parts of your prenatal care.

Weight Loss or Gain

If you have experienced a sudden shift in weight, this can sometimes affect your menstrual cycle. Over-exercising can also affect your periods, especially when you put a lot of physical stress on the body.


Emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one, or major life stressors in work or your home life can take a toll on your body and affect your menstrual cycle.

Birth Control

Going on hormonal birth control can also cause a change in your period. It is not uncommon for women to experience lighter than usual periods and shorter periods, while on a birth control pill or if you have gotten a hormone-emitting IUD, such as Mirena.

If a change in your period bothers you, you can stop using hormone-based contraceptives. There are hormone-free options for birth control including male and female condoms, a non-hormonal intrauterine device, and foams. Be sure to ask your midwife, healthcare provider or local health department for advice on the method that is best for you.


If you are getting older, your periods may shift. You may be pre-menopausal. This does not mean you are no longer fertile, it means you are a little less likely to get pregnant. Birth control should still be a consideration until menopause.

Medical Conditions

There are medical conditions, such as cervical stenosis or Asherman's syndrome, that may cause a lighter flow than expected, however, the cramping may still occur. For example, cervical stenosis is uncommon, but it can cause menstrual blood to get trapped in the uterus.

Asherman's syndrome is caused by uterine scarring following a D&C procedure. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have a light flow and experience intense cramps.

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  2. Wright KP, Johnson JV. Evaluation of extended and continuous use oral contraceptives. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(5):905-11.

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