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Why Is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter? 8 Possible Reasons

Your menstrual cycle is actually made up of four phases. There’s your menstrual phase, which is the time of the month when you bleed; the follicular phase, which is when your pituitary gland releases a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that causes the egg-containing follicles in your ovaries to mature; the ovulatory phase, which is when an egg is released from a follicle in your ovary; and the luteal phase, where estrogen and testosterone start to drop in your body, while levels of the hormone progesterone rise.

A typical cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 45 days, according to the ACOG. But, again, you know what’s normal for you.

The biggest reason you might notice your cycle getting shorter is poor ovulation, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale Medical School. “When we ovulate–around mid cycle in general–the ovary turns the area from which we ovulated from, the follicle, into a producer of progesterone,” she says. “Progesterone turns the lining of the uterus into an area where a fertilized egg would like to implant.”

If there’s no fertilized egg, the follicle that’s making progesterone dies, she says. Then, the progesterone levels fall and you have your period. “Anything that leads to poor ovulation will lead to less progesterone, and you will get your period sooner,” Minkin says.

Just like with shorter periods, this can happen with age, after you have a baby, and when you’re breastfeeding, Minkin says.

“If you get one short cycle, I would ignore it–no evaluation is necessary,” Minkin says. “But if it keeps on happening, a check-in with your gynecologic provider may be worthwhile.”

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