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What Does a One or Two Day Period Mean?

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Normally the duration of periods ranges from 3 to 6 days. This is when the exfoliated endometrial lining, which had been preparing for possible conception in the previous cycle, is discharged through the vagina. In the case, if the period only lasted 2 days, it is appropriate to speak about hypomenorrhea. Physiologically, having a short period is considered normal during hormonal alterations in the organism and intake of hormonal contraceptives. There are 2 congenial and 7 acquired causes or pathological scantiness of periods.

In fact, periods are nothing but monthly discharge of blood and elements of endometrium, exfoliated due to alteration of hormonal profile. Menstruation appears to be one of the components of regeneration in the reproductive system. As a rule, the volume of blood loss does not exceed 35-50ml, and periods last from 3 to 6 days. Decrease of the amount of blood or obvious reduction of periods is commonly referred to as hypomenorrhea.

When is a short period considered normal?

Two periods (apart from pregnancy) can be outlined in the life of a woman, during which major hormonal alterations takes place. One of these periods is the year, following menarche (the first period) and 3-4 years before menopause (a critical period of time, which is characterized by complete absence of menstruations in 12 months). The last mentioned period is called perimenopause.

Scantiness and reduced duration of menstruation are considered to be physiologic in these two periods. Anovulatory cycles can be observed, which has to do with the fact that in these new conditions, the organism does not provide for sufficient secretion of hormones. Besides, endometrial lining, which does not fully prepare itself to possible impregnation, simply does not accumulate enough content to provide for normal periods.

It should also be noted that the condition when period only lasts a day or two is normal in women, who take hormonal contraceptives. Such drugs deliberately provoke cycles, in which the ovum does not maturate and fails to emerge from the follicle, which contributes to the minimization of periods.

What can permanently short periods mean?

For a certain group of women 1 or 2 day period is a permanent practice. This may be the case with a congenial pathology of the genital tract, which is first of all presented by inadequate development of secondary sexual characteristics (underdeveloped breasts, hair growth problems, etc.) and infertility.

Thorough examination can reveal development disorders in internal genitalia – uterus and ovaries. Conditions, which are accompanied by short periods include:

  • Triple X syndrome – the genetic disorder, associated with chronic anovulation;
  • Asherman syndrome – inherent synechias (adhesions) in the uterine cavity, which do not allow for normal growth and monthly transformation of the endometrial lining.

What is a one day period indicative to, if it is observed for the first time?

Disturbed hormonal counterbalance, particularly, episodes of anovulation, constitute the most common cause of reduced duration of bloody discharge. Anovulation can be provoked by:

1. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS or the Stein–Leventhal syndrome, presents a set of clinical symptoms, including disturbed growth of the ovum, hypomenorrhea or delay of periods, hirsuties (male pattern of body hair distribution), obesity, augmentation of polycystic ovaries. The first step that is required to take for the treatment of this complicated pathology is the intake of oral contraceptives for the regulation of MC.

2. Hypothyroidism

Insufficiency of thyroid gland output influences the secretion of sex hormones, resulting in disturbance of periods, which may appear in the form of light spotting or last 1-2 days.

3. Nervous asthenia

Severe psychological stress is in some cases accompanied by hormonal disruption, in the form of the gonadotropin insufficiency (one of the regulators of the genital system). For this reason, a long delay or extremely short period can be observed as the organism’s response to stress.

4. Radical change of climatic zone

Moving to a distant location can also impact production of hormones, decreasing it. This is expressed in scantiness or delay of periods in up to 2 cycles.

5. Active physical load

Professional sport activities present some danger for women in terms of disturbance of endocrine balance. Specifically, the counterbalance between estrogens and androgens is dangerous, when the first ones continue to maintain a prevailing position, but the “breakaway” is distinctly reduced.

6. Rapid decrease of body mass

Construction material of fat cells participates in chemical interaction of the output of certain hormones. That is to say, fat tissue is vital for endocrine regulation of the MC. When a woman’s weight goes below a certain critical level (insufficiency of lipocytes does not provide for normal hormone metabolism) – thus, periods either intermit or last only 1-2 days.

Acquired adhesive processes in the uterine cavity should be mentioned among the reasons that are not directly associated with hormones. Women with past history of endometritis or infectious complications after abortion, may consult the doctor with a complaint of a “period that only lasted a few days”. Similar to Asherman syndrome, this situation involves atrophy of the endometrial lining, transformed under the influence of cicatrical changes, specifically disorders of development and deficiency of rejected tissues.

Thus, occasional reducing of period’s duration, for example, following a climatic change, in the period of regulation of the cycle, perimenopause or intake of hormonal drugs, is no reason for serious concerns.

Stress-determined hypomenorrhea requires restoration of psychoemotional resources with the help of proper rest; whereas, in the case of physical exhaustion or critical weight loss, one should accordingly reduce workouts or opt for a less meager diet.

Weight that complies with optimal body mass index (BMI) is considered to be an ideal weight. It equals to weight in kg, divided by the square of height in meters. Ideally, this index can vary between 18-25 kg.

Thus, you should immediately consult a specialist in the case none of the causes have been discovered, or if having short periods is something you have been observing since childhood and/or short periods are accompanied by other irregularities of the MC, retardation of the development, pathological bleeding or infertility.