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Gynecology

Lighter than normal period

04/17/2006

Question:

Hi Maybe I`m just worrying too much but I`m very paranoid around the topic of pregnancy (well about me being pregnant at a young age) so this is why I am writing to you. I recently got my period at the right time around when I was expecting it and did get some of my usual PMS symptoms beforehand. I totally thought of this as a regular period until I noticed that it was lighter and shorter than normal. I only bled regular (compared to normal) for a day and a half and then I spotted for about 2 days after like I would at the end of my period. Now, I know that there are tons of reasons why this is probably not a pregnancy but I`m still kind of paranoid and I`m seeking other opinions. I`m 18 and I have NEVER had sexual intercourse before in my life. I have been fingered by my bf before, but our genitals have never came into contact ever and I`m always making sure that his hands are completely dry before he ever even goes near my vagina (meaning no semen). Now this past month we`ve only even been intimate (fingering/hand job) once since we`ve been so busy with school and hardly got to see each other. I have experienced a weight gain of about 10 pounds over the last couple of months but I`m pretty sure that`s b/c of the "freshman 15" and having to eat on the go and not always so healthy options all the time while @ University. I have also been having irregular sleep patterns because of pulling all-nighters for school work so I was getting little-to-no sleep for a few days and then a big catch up. This has happened at least 2 times during this month. I am also a competitive athlete and have been having regular full day or full 2-day competitions every weekend on top of my regular training. Of course, juggling all of this, I`ve likely been under a higher amount of stress than usual as well. With all of these factors I`m pretty sure that I`m not pregnant but I can`t shake the idea from my mind. I keep finding symptoms like fatigue that match how I feel, but I mean obviously after not sleeping for almost 2 days I would be tired! :) Anyways, I would really like to avoid having to take a pregnancy test because I don`t want to have to spend my money for it and I don`t want to have to go through the ordeal and potential embarrassment for no reason.. I mean, I have never even had sex! My period generally stays regular for a few months and then changes when it comes by about a week or so and continues for a few months etc, but the timing is usually what changes, never the length or weight of flow like this. Anyways, do you think I should just wait for another month and see if everything goes back to normal? Should I be concerned? Is this normal? I`m really at a loss, I figure this might be normal, but I am always so paranoid and I tend to psyche myself out about these things even times when I know it`s basically impossible for me to be pregnant, the difference is I`ve never had a lighter period like this, which is why I`m seeking advice. Anyways, thank you for reading this long email and I look forward to hearing back from you soon!

Answer:

I understand your concern. As you state, the possibility of you being pregnant is almost zero. The only possible way would be if he had semen on his hand when he performed digital stimulation on you. Even then, the quantity of semen would be so little as to make pregnancy unlikely. I can't tell you why your cycle was lighter, but it isn't uncommon to have an irregular cycle every once and a while. Your hectic schedule and exercise are stresses to your body that can also cause alterations in your cycle. Although it seems as though you are protecting against pregnancy by delaying penile-vaginal intercourse, you need to think about what are you going to use for contraception if you engage in penile-vaginal intercourse? Very often, in the heat of passion, you may decide to take the next step but not have any protection.

Hormonal contraception might be a good option for a few reasons. You don't have to think about it at the time you are about to engage in intercourse. You also would have some control of your cycles which might be helpful for competition and exams. You can manipulate your cycles to determine when you have them. This is easy to do, but I would do it with the advise of your physician.

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Response by:

Thomas  A deHoop, MD Thomas A deHoop, MD
Formerly Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Medical Student Education
No longer associated