All about each symptom of menopause

Shorter Menstrual Cycles Could Be Early Sign of Menopause

Review on July 10, 2015

Irregular periods are experienced by nearly every woman during the menopause transition, but recent research shows that a shorter time between each period could be the first sign that menopause is on its way. Irregular periods that include heavy bleeding, however, seem to indicate other factors unrelated to ovulation.

Shorter or longer time between menstrual periods could be the first sign of menopause.

Causes of Short Menstrual Cycles

Quick Facts about Short Periods

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome may cause shorter periods
  • Anovulation is common in women who experience either short or long periods.

The length of your cycle may change from month to month. It may become longer or shorter. Menstrual irregularities can be caused by a variety of conditions, including hormonal imbalances, infections, diseases, trauma, and certain medications.

Common causes of anovulatory bleeding, infrequent periods, and short periods include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Excessive exercise
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Stopping or starting the contraceptive pill or other hormonal contraception
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Diabetes

Understanding Menopause

Menopause is the time when a woman's menstrual periods stop. Menopause happens because the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Once you have gone through menopause, you can't get pregnant anymore. People call the years leading up to menopause the menopausal transition or perimenopause.

During the time of the menopausal transition, periods can stop for a while and then start again. Therefore, the only way to know if you have gone through menopause is if you have not had your period for a full year. The average age of menopause is 51, but for some women, it happens as early as 40 or as late as 55.

After going through menopause, a woman is considered postmenopausal. Hormones won't go up and down the way they used to.

Other Signs of Menopause

Signs are usually connected with certain disorders, so a woman in her middle 40's may not suspect menopause right away. These are:

  • Weight gain. The bodily changes that happen during menopause often unfortunately mean it is easier to gain weight. An unusually higher BMI may tip off a doctor to the beginning of hormonal imbalance.
  • Levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). A doctor can take a blood test measuring the level of FSH. High levels of FSH can help determine if a woman is menopausal.

Anovulation is the primary cause of short or long periods during menopause transition. Women who are experiencing other changes should see a doctor to rule out other conditions.

Sources:
  • Health Direct. (n.d.). Irregular periods. Retrieved from July 9, 2015, from http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/irregular-periods
  • National Health Service. (2015). Irregular periods-Causes. Retrieved from July 9, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Causes.aspx
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). What causes menstrual irregularities? Retrieved from July 9, 2015, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menstruation/conditioninfo/Pages/causes.aspx
  • Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause. Retrieved from July 9, 2015, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics/index.html
  • Office on Women's Health. (2014). Polycystic ovary syndrome. Retrieved from July 9, 2015, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html