Why Is My Period Early? 6 Reasons You Should Consider

So you got your period early, or you’ve noticed that it’s shorter and lighter. Is it a big deal, or should you brush it off? The truth is, when it comes to your cycle—there’s no such thing as a coincidence. There’s a number of things that can cause a shorter menstrual cycle or an early period. Some of them may be obvious, such as starting a new medication or birth control, but others may take a little more digging.

Let’s first find out what’s considered a “typical” in the world of menstrual cycles, and then what could be causing an early period, or other menstrual irregularities. Depending on the underlying causes of your shorter cycle, you may benefit from the help of a holistic provider to get the support you need.

Join us to dive into the world of holistic hormone health as you design your personalized roadmap to your best self. Learn more about the Superwoman Circle.

Normal vs. Early Period

First, let’s clear up some terminology.

  • Your menstrual cycle is the number of days between periods. So day one of your cycle starts on the first day of your period and the last day of your cycle is the day before your next period begins. 

A ‘typical’ cycle lasts about 28 days. If your cycle is less than 21 days long, or more than 35, it may signal an underlying issue (1).

  • Your period (sometimes called the menstrual phase) is when you’re actually bleeding, and can last anywhere from two to seven days. Anything that falls within this range is considered normal, but you know what’s typical for your body.

Changes in menstrual cycle length can be caused by many things, such as age, underlying health conditions, and hormone fluctuations.

Related: PCOS Signs & Symptoms

As you get older, your menstrual cycle shortens

As women get older, the average length of a menstrual cycle gets shorter. Perimenopause, or the time before menopause, is a period where hormonal changes cause irregular periods. As hormones fluctuate, your menstrual cycle may be shorter, longer, or just kind of unpredictable. You may have an early or late period, depending.

Perimenopause usually begins (on average) around age 51 for most women, and lasts anywhere from 4 to 8 years. A smaller percentage of women will begin perimenopause at an earlier age. If your mother and other close female relatives had an early or late menopause, there’s a chance you will also (2).

Less than 1% of women begin perimenopause before the age of 40 (3). If your cycles start to become irregular in your mid-30s, you should speak with a qualified hormone doctor to rule out any serious underlying conditions. Some women experience premature ovarian failure, and while rare, it can happen.

Related: What to Expect During Perimenopause

Reasons why your period is shorter or lighter

So, let’s say your overall menstrual cycle is still happening as usual—meaning you get your period regularly and between about day 26 or 32—but you’re having light bleeding, a shorter period, or other changes in flow.

There are several common underlying causes for short or light bleeding, too:

Breastfeeding can shorten your period, or make it lighter. Nursing an infant suppresses reproductive hormones that normally regulate your menstrual cycle. As you breastfeed less and less, your cycle and period should eventually return to normal.

Early pregnancy can sometimes result in implantation bleeding, which usually lasts for a day or two and is very light. Implantation bleeding usually occurs around the same time you’re expecting your period, which is why it can be confusing.

Thyroid problems can make your period very light, very heavy, or cause irregular cycles. Low thyroid is also common with PCOS. If you suspect symptoms of thyroid issues, you’ll want to make an appointment with your holistic doctor asap.

Birth control will also affect your flow. Many women who take hormonal birth control (pills, patch, or IUD) report having shorter, lighter periods—and sometimes none at all (4).

PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome often results in a long history of irregular cycles, including shorter, lighter periods that don’t arrive at predictable intervals.

Endometriosis often causes heavy, painful periods. Some women who have endometriosis have longer periods, but some also experience shorter, but heavier menstrual bleeding, accompanied by large clots.

Read: Signs You Have Estrogen Dominance + 6 Steps to Balance Hormones

A shorter menstrual cycle means your period comes early—why?

The above factors are important to consider when anything with your cycle goes awry, however, there are other things that many people miss when trying to get their cycle back on track.

Stress messes with your hormones, and your cycle too!

High levels of stress is a common culprit for early periods, because of the effects of stress upon ovulation.

Stress can screw with just about everything in your life, so it’s hardly a surprise that it can mess with your menstrual flow, too. High levels of stress can cause an increase in the production of stress hormones, like cortisol, which in turn can make your period late, or early (5).

Under calmer circumstances, your brain triggers a cascade of hormones which then initiate ovulation, but when things are super hectic, this cascade of chemical messengers may get messed up, and delay or stop ovulation altogether.

Exercising too much

Exercise is a healthy activity, for the most part. But like most things, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Exercising at a high intensity for too long, or too often can cause chronic stress in the body, and disrupt normal cycles (6). Add to this that over-exercising is often accompanied by low calorie diets and other lifestyle factors that can wipe out hormone levels, and you have a recipe for irregular periods.

What’s the best type of workout for your body? Discover your weight loss type!

No ovulation can mean an early period

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The biggest reason you might notice your period coming early is ovulation—or more specifically—a lack thereof.

Anything that interferes with ovulation, such as PCOS, a high toxic load, stress, or other hormone imbalance may cause shorter or irregular menstrual cycles.

When you don’t ovulate, your body runs short on progesterone, which is exactly what causes your period to show up early.

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What’s the problem with low progesterone?

When you ovulate (around the middle of your cycle) the ovary sends an egg off to be fertilized. When this happens, it triggers a special group of cells located in the ovary to make progesterone.

Progesterone does all kinds of things like stabilize mood, improve sleep, and even act as a mild pain-killer. Progesterone also goes on to turn the lining of the uterus into a comfy, welcoming area for a potential fertilized egg.

But if ovulation never happens, then sufficient amounts of progesterone is never made—which then results in an early period.

Early period: Causes, and when to see a doctor

A cycle that’s shorter than 21 days, or longer than 35, is considered irregular. If you have an irregular period, you might also experience:

If you’ve noticed any changes in your cycle, the best thing to do is make an appointment with a qualified holistic hormone doctor. They can help you figure out what’s going on and recommend the best course of treatment, even if that’s simply lifestyle changes. 

It’s also a good idea to keep track of your cycles and symptoms by using a period tracker app, or just an old-fashioned pen and paper. This will help you and your doctor get a better understanding of what’s going on with your body.

Getting your cycle back on track with holistic medicine

Many changes in our menstrual cycle are due to natural aging, but there are several other factors to consider. By being aware of the most common causes, you can take steps to correct the problem and get your period back on track. Tracking your period (and your symptoms) is one way to be proactive about understanding what’s going on with your body; it also provides important information for your healthcare provider if you do experience any significant changes. Have you ever had trouble with your period? What did you do to try and fix it?



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279054/
  2. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634232/ 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728737/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079864/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23667795/