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Short Menstrual Cycle Could Be a 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.

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. Irregular periods are any alterations in a woman's typical menstrual cycle that persist for several months.

Causes of Short Menstrual Cycles

Quick Fact

  • 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:

  • Changing the contraceptive pill
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Excessive exercise
  • Diabetes

Other Signs of Menopause

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

  • 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.
  • Body changes. During perimenopause, it is easier to gain weight, especially around mid-section instead of hips. An unusually higher body mass index (BMI) may tip off a doctor to the beginning of hormonal imbalance.

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. Click on the following link to find out the first symptoms of menopause related to hormonal imbalance.

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