Hypomenorrhea: Light periods

Fact checked

By SheCares Editorial Team | Updated: Jun 18, 2020

While having scanty periods may seem like a desirable thing at first, persistently light periods – a condition known as hypomenorrhea – can be caused by conditions that, when unresolved, may continue negatively affecting a woman's health, including compromising her conception efforts. As such, gaining a better understanding of one's period patterns is the first step towards finding balance and menstrual health.

Read on to learn everything about hypomenorrhea, including what it is, the symptoms having a light menstrual flow may produce, what causes very light periods, their complications, and your options for long-lasting treatment.

Light periods

What is Hypomenorrhea?

What is hypomenorrhea

Hypomenorrhea is a medical term for light periods or scanty menstrual flow.

As reference, during a healthy period, a woman will typically lose between 40-60 mL of blood per period, which equals to about three tablespoons.1 Women with hypomenorrhea lose less than 30 mL per cycle.2

Because of scarce amount of bleeding, it may be difficult for women to differentiate light periods from another menstrual disorder, namely spotting between periods. However, it is key to remember that they are two different conditions.

Light Period Symptoms

Hypomenorrhea symptoms

There are no other distinct hypomenorrhea symptoms besides one or several of the following characteristics:

  • Soaking through very few pads or tampons
  • Having a scanty flow that stays consistently so throughout the period
  • Having a period that is shorter than three days
  • Bleeding may resemble spotting

Additionally, it is worth keeping in mind that scanty periods are a symptom of an underlying imbalance in the body. As such, they might be accompanied by other cause-specific symptoms, including:

Light Period Causes

Light period causes

What can cause a very light period is - in most cases - directly or indirectly related to menstrual cyclehormonal Imbalance in the body, which disrupts the menstrual cycle. It can be due to normal and abnormal causes and lifestyle practices.

Normal Causes

Scanty periods are commonly observed during various phases in a woman's life, in which case they do not signal any abnormalities. They include the following:

  • Perimenopause. As a woman approaches menopause, and her ovaries wind down their hormone production, she will likely experience irregular periods, including a scanty menstrual flow.  

  • Pregnancy. Experiencing bleeding that resembles a light period might also be confused with implantation bleeding, which occurs about seven to ten days after ovulation.

  • Breastfeeding. It is common for nursing women to have a light menstrual flow when their periods first return following childbirth.

  • Puberty. The first several periods in a girl's life are likely to be very scanty, often with just light spotting.

Abnormal Causes

Having a light period flow can also result from certain diseases or poor lifestyle habits, including the following:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Insufficient body fat
  • Eating disorders
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Prolonged high stress
  • Absence of ovulation (anovulation)
  • Birth control pills
  • Nutritional anemia
  • Asherman's syndrome

Hypomenorrhea Complications

Occasionally lighter periods are generally not a reason to worry, especially when they are present during natural life phases. However, hypomenorrhea due to abnormal causes can have negative consequences on a woman's health.

Infertility

Unresolved PCOS, thyroid disease, high stress, and other conditions behind scanty periods are closely linked to ovulation problems, including its absence, and infertility. As such, women whose periods are light might experience difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

Other Complications

Other complications of having very light periods might arise from the progression of the conditions that cause them in the first place. This may lead to further damage not only to a woman's reproductive health, but also her physical and psychological well-being.

Hypomenorrhea Treatment

Hypomenorrhea treatment

While scanty periods due to normal causes do not require treatment, those caused by diseases or unhealthy habits do have to be properly resolved.

The focus will generally be placed on restoring hormonal balance and regulating menstrual patterns through a variety of approaches.

Lifestyle Adjustments

  • A balanced diet with phytoestrogen- and iron-rich foods as well as ample supply of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs

  • Regular exercise that consists of low- to moderate-intensity workouts for 150 minutes a week

  • Stress relief in the form of deep breathing exercises, aromatherapy, meditation, or yoga

Alternative Medicine

  • Nutritional supplements, such as iron, folate, and vitamin B12, to help treat anemia behind hypomenorrhea

  • Phytoestrogenic supplements, like red clover, to promote hormonal balance by supplying plant-based estrogen

  • Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem Healthy Periods, which stimulate the endocrine glands into optimizing their own production of hormones and regulating menstruation

Conventional Medicine

  • Medications, like birth control pills, might be used to regulate menstrual cycles and normalize period flow

  • Psychotherapy might be beneficial for women whose scanty periods are due to eating disorders and body image issues 

Key Takeaways

Without a doubt, some women's periods are naturally light without the presence of any menstrual abnormalities or other health conditions. However, a woman should not assume that scanty periods, medically known as hypomenorrhea, are natural until she undergoes adequate testing and receives proper diagnosis. While they often occur during times of hormonal fluctuations, such as menopause or puberty, very light periods can also signal underlying medical conditions or unhealthy lifestyle practices that require treatment. Luckily, menstrual health can be achieved with replacing poor habits with wholesome ones, including diet, exercise, and stress relief; taking herbal supplements, like Macafem, to restore hormonal balance naturally; and treating the underlying causes of hypomenorrhea with medications, if necessary.