Polymenorrhea: Frequent periods/Short cycles

Fact checked

By SheCares Editorial Team | Updated: Jan 23, 2020

As if one time per month was not enough, some women are stricken with more frequent periods, oftentimes every three weeks.

Frequent menstruation is not only inconveniencing to a woman's daily life, but it is also the body's cue that something is amiss with its balance and needs evaluation. As such, learning more about one's own menstrual patterns is necessary for achieving optimal reproductive and overall health.

Keep on reading to learn everything about polymenorrhea, including short cycle meaning, symptoms, and causes as well as what risks and effects frequent periods have on your health and where to search for long-lasting relief.

Polymenorrhea

About Frequent Periods

About frequent periods

Polymenorrhea is a medical term for short menstrual cycles, which are defined as those that last less than 21 days.1 As such, a woman has more frequent periods, often around 20 per year as opposed to 9-12 in healthy menstruation.2

For reference, a healthy menstrual cycle is defined as one that lasts between 21 and 35 days, with bleeding lasting for 3-7 days.3

Consequently, frequent menstruation is generally classified as irregular periods, or abnormal uterine bleeding. It is one of the most common menstrual disorders, requiring proper evaluation and treatment.

Short Cycle Symptoms

Short cycle symptoms

Besides experiencing more frequent menstruation, there are no other symptoms associated with polymenorrhea.

However, it is important to keep in mind that short cycles are a symptom of an underlying disequilibrium in the body. As such, they might be accompanied by other characteristic symptoms, including:

Short Menstrual Cycle Causes

Short menstrual cycle causes

Most cases of frequent menstruation share the same underlying cause, hormonal imbalance, which can be brought about directly and indirectly through lifestyle habits or medical conditions

The most common causes of frequent periods include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Luteal phase defect
  • Prolonged stress
  • Endometriosis
  • Premenopause
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Excessive exercise
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Hypothalamic or pituitary disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive or insufficient body fat
  • Eating disorders
  • Uterine fibroids or cysts
  • Birth control

Frequent Periods Risks & Effects

Having more frequent periods than what is considered healthy can have negative repercussions on a woman's overall and reproductive health, including the following:

Anemia

Frequent menstruation can commonly lead to anemia due to increased blood loss on a monthly basis.4 When blood does not have enough red cells, oxygen transport is compromised, leading to fatigue, low energy, and other symptoms.

Infertility

Women with short cycles might have difficulty determining their fertile window as it can coincide with their bleeding days. Others might struggle with ovulation problems, including absent or infrequent ovulation, leading to infertility.

Miscarriage

It is also possible that a woman with polymenorrhea has a short luteal phase - the second part of the menstrual cycle after ovulation - which might not allow sufficient time for implantation to take place, thus leading to a miscarriage.5

Short Cycle Treatment

Short cycle treatment

It is important to mention that sometimes short period cycles are a woman's norm and do not require treatment as long as potential underlying causes have been ruled out.

For those whose short cycles are indeed result of unhealthy lifestyle practices or unresolved medical conditions, treatment will mostly be aimed at controlling that underlying cause and relieving hormonal imbalance. It can include the following:

Lifestyle Adjustments

  • A balanced diet that is rich in foods that contain phytoestrogens and iron, such as flax, spinach, nuts, and lentils

  • Regular exercise that consists of moderate-intensity workouts for 150 minutes a week6

  • Stress-relief techniques that includes deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga

Alternative Medicine

  • Nutritional supplements, like iron, to resolve deficiencies that might be behind frequent menstruation

  • Phytoestrogenic supplements, like chaste berry, to promote hormonal balance by supplying plant-based estrogen

  • Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem Healthy Periods, which nourish the endocrine glands into optimal hormone production

Conventional Medicine

  • Medications, such as birth control pills, might be prescribed to reduce menstrual flow and lengthen the cycle

  • Psychotherapy is recommended to those with eating disorders or anxiety that might provoke period issues

Key Takeaways

Without a doubt, suffering from polymenorrhea can take a toll on women's quality of life. It is defined as having cycles shorted than 21 days, which translates to more frequent menstruation throughout the year. While short menstrual cycles are not generally accompanied by other symptoms, they might be present alongside other ailments characteristic of their root cause, such as cramps, hot flashes, or fatigue. Most of those causes are hormonal and brought about by medical conditions, like PCOS or thyroid diseases, or lifestyle practices, like excessive stress or exercise. Because of an increased risk of anemia, infertility, and miscarriage associated with short menstrual cycles, they should be promptly evaluated and treated with a combination of wholesome practices of diet, exercise, or stress-relief; herbal supplements; and conventional medicine aimed at managing underlying conditions. With a little initiative, long-lasting menstrual balance is within reach!