Period changes
December 2, 2006 7:04 AM   Subscribe

PeriodFilter All of a sudden, my normal periods of 13 years have changed.

I'm a healthy 26 yo female and my period started 13 years ago. They've always always always been the same - every 30 days, 5-7 days of bleeding. In the past 3 months, my cycle has shorted to every 28 days and exactly 4 days of bleeding. I've never had this before, and it's been consistent for the past 3 months.

I go to the gynecologist regularly, and have always had normal PAPs, nothing ever abnormal. Sexually active, always use a condom. No changes (diet, exercise, environment, stress, etc) that I can think of that would have caused this change. GYN has no answers for me - as long as I continue having regular periods, "no problems."

I'm not looking for medical advice, I just want to know if any other women have experienced a sudden change in periods like this or if anyone has any ideas of what may have caused this.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a guy; but I can tell you that the average cycle is 28 days long; and there are multiple things that can cause this type of change. I know you said no changes; no new job or anything like that--any more/less anxious about anything, etc. It's the little things that you may not think of that could be causing this. Oh, and the reason I opened this and read is b/c I'm in med school, otherwise I would have even been saying to myself "dude, what are you doing?" So I've got a general interest in anything medical related right now. Hope all works out . . .
posted by uncballzer at 7:42 AM on December 2, 2006

Yes, I've had this happen, and my doctor told me that it was natural that as women age and their bodies' fertility changes, their cycles change too. Unless your new cycle is somehow worrisome on its own (e.g., excessive bleeding, irregular periods, etc.), just enjoy your new, shorter periods.
posted by decathecting at 7:50 AM on December 2, 2006

This happened to me. No problems, just a nice, shorter period. Enjoy the savings on tampons/pads!
posted by seancake at 8:14 AM on December 2, 2006

It can happen if you've started hanging around with a new group of women you didn't know before. Oddly enough, if a large group of women live together or spend lots of time together, their cycles can all synchronize and they can all end up having their periods at the same time every month.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:17 AM on December 2, 2006

Seconding what Steven C. Den Beste says. I've noticed that same phenomenon at my place of employment. All the gals are on very similar menstrual cycles. It's weird and also cool.

My particular change, though, occurred in my mid-to-late twenties, much as yours has; and I don't think it was tied to colleagues' cycles. At the time I asked my mother if it was common, and she said the same thing had happened to her too. So I really wouldn't worry about it. As long as Aunt Flo arrives each month on schedule more or less, you're golden.
posted by seancake at 8:47 AM on December 2, 2006

Yep, with no obvious stimulus my periods went from being very regular to not so regular. As I've aged, they've gotten lighter too, and shorter. I thought at one stage I was going through menopause early because the changes were so significantly different. However, testing showed otherwise.

However, some of the changes in my cycles (at other times) seemed to be related to quitting smoking and sometimes due to stress.
posted by b33j at 9:11 AM on December 2, 2006

The older you get, the less estrogen you produce (yes, even at 26) so your periods are bound to change. It happened to me at 27 - no big deal.
posted by meerkatty at 9:29 AM on December 2, 2006

my doctor told me that it was natural that as women age and their bodies' fertility changes, their cycles change too.

The older you get, the less estrogen you produce (yes, even at 26) so your periods are bound to change.

Thirding this. I'm 39 and looking back, it's amazing how varied it's been over the last 26 years. No worries.
posted by scratch at 9:58 AM on December 2, 2006

There's a small amount of evidence that exposure to light (sunlight or artificial light) can affect the length of menstrual cycles. I believe it's called the Dewan effect, but it's neither well-known nor well-studied, as far as I know. I would google up some good links if I weren't on an ancient computer at the moment.

This doesn't sound like a drastic change to me, and 4 days of bleeding every 28 days is pretty normal. Also, it's logical and reasonable that if your cycle gets shorter, you will lose less blood/menstruate for fewer days. I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:16 AM on December 2, 2006

Also, it's been recently discovered that some women are "super syncers", giving off a pheremone that causes other women to sync to their cycle. I ran across that fact in a book on coupled oscillators called Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order.
posted by scalefree at 10:21 AM on December 2, 2006

pubmed link to one study, because so much of the other stuff out there is just "ZOMG I feel in touch with the moon goddess when I have my period."
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2006

Same thing happened to me in my late twenties. Went from 5-7 days to 4, but a changed to a little shorter cycle. Much better this way :)
posted by eileen at 11:13 AM on December 2, 2006

my cycle has changed subtly over the years, too -- I've gone from having a long (35-day) cycle with a long-ish (6 day) period to having a more regular cycle (28-day) with a shorter (4-day) period, much like yours. My cramps and PMS symptoms have changed over the years, too. Most of the women I've talked to about these things have mentioned similar changes over the years -- I think, in the absence of other symptoms, to be quite normal for our bodies to shift like this.
posted by scody at 1:52 PM on December 2, 2006

guh. "to be" = "it is." Me talk pretty someday.
posted by scody at 1:53 PM on December 2, 2006

Yup, perfectly normal for things to change over time and there doesn't need to be any reason for it. If anything, it's more weird to be totally regular and the same for ever from puberty until menopause, biology is variable.

So says both my doctor(s) and my post-graduate level reproductive physiology lecturers. Listen to your Gyn, they're the expert after all.
posted by shelleycat at 2:18 PM on December 2, 2006

Also mid-twenties and been noticing something similar. I count myself as a datapoint against all the synchronisation comments, because I spent four of those (consecutive) months in an otherwise entirely male workplace/living space. I'm fairly sure bizarre things were happening to my testosterone levels, but that's about it.
posted by Lebannen at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2006

Some time in my mid-twenties (I'm 30 now) my period went from 5-6 days down to 3-4 days. It just made me happy, not worried!
posted by Kololo at 9:16 PM on December 2, 2006

Just chiming in that this sort of thing is totally normal in your mid-to-late twenties.

(And other weirdnesses. Having never had much acne, I suddenly started getting pimples around my mouth at this age. Culprit? Hormones. Same thing happened to my mom.)
posted by desuetude at 8:02 PM on December 3, 2006

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