menstrual periodMost of the time, a 1-2 day period is caused by low levels of estrogen and/or low iron. When there isn’t enough estrogen to build the uterine lining, you inevitably end up with periods that are very light, pinkish in color (rather than a vibrant red color) and too short.

There is always a reason for hormonal imbalance and it’s up to you to figure that out with the help of a trained practitioner. If your estrogen is low, it’s likely that there is some kind of breakdown along your hormone superhighway and it’s also likely that other hormones are imbalanced too – FSH/LH, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid and cortisol to name a few.

We can develop low levels of estrogen in a number of ways:

1. Hormonal birth control use (especially the birth control pill)
2. High levels of stress and cortisol can lower our estrogen
3. Over-exercising and disordered eating (not enough food) can also reduce our estrogen levels

Additionally, short and light periods are associated with:

1. Anovulatory cycles – where you don’t ovulate in a cycle. This can be brought on by the above reasons as well as PCOS, peri-menopause, and premature ovarian failure
2. Iron deficiency
3. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies
4. Thyroid problems – this can cause lighter periods

The Answer
If your period is only 1 or 2 days long, it might be too short. A 3-day period is the norm for many women but ideally, you want to have a period that is about 4-5 days long. Some women have 6-7 day periods and that is fine too, but a period that is 8 days or longer is too long and can set you up for anemia. Also, abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) can cause anemia too – this is bleeding during your cycle when you know you’re not having your period.

When to Call Your Gynecologist About Short Menstrual Periods
If your irregular or short menstrual cycle is a new development and not your typical pattern, you may want to consult with your doctor. For example, going 60 days without a period and spotting for just a few days is not normal.

Hormonal problems stemming from the pituitary gland and hypothalamus (which can affect ovarian functioning), thyroid dysfunction, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are just some of the conditions that can alter your menstrual cycle. Usually these conditions are accompanied by other symptoms, so look for other changes to alert your doctor about.

Keep track of your period in a journal or calendar if you’re concerned about a menstrual cycle that’s too short. This way you’ll have the most accurate information to share with your doctor and will be able to easily detect a menstruation pattern that’s not normal for you.