- What is menstruation?
- What is oligomenorrhoea?
- What are the symptoms of oligomenorrhoea?
- What causes oligomenorrhoea?
- How is oligomenorrhoea treated?
What is menstruation?
Menstruation, or having periods, is part of the female reproductive cycle.
While the average interval between periods is 28 days, many women will have cycles that are either longer or shorter than this.
During a period, the lining of the womb, which is no longer required if a pregnancy has not occurred, is shed and bleeding occurs through the vagina. This bleeding usually lasts between three and seven days.
What is oligomenorrhoea?
Oligomenorrhoea is infrequent or very light menstruation. It usually refers to women who had normal menstruation in the past but are now experiencing sparse menstruation.
With this condition, periods occur at intervals of greater than 35 days. As a result, there are usually fewer than nine periods in a given year.
Oligomenorrhoea should not be mixed up with amenorrhoea, which is the absence of periods. However, oligomenorrhoea can develop into amenorrhoea, if infrequent periods stop altogether.
What are the symptoms of oligomenorrhoea?
- Menstruation occurring at intervals of greater than 35 days.
- Irregular periods.
- Unpredictable flow.
- In some cases, there may be difficulty with conceiving.
What causes oligomenorrhoea?
There are a number of factors which may cause a woman to have infrequent periods:
- Polycystic ovary disease (POCD): Also known as polcystic ovary syndrome (POCS), this is a condition in which the ovaries become filled with small cysts.
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
- Intense or excessive physical exercise. The use of anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance may also cause oligomenorrhoea.
- Chronic illness.
How is oligomenorrhoea treated?
Treatment depends on the cause. If oligomenorrhoea is caused by some underlying condition such as bulimia or polycystic ovaries, then that condition must be treated. Menstruation may then return to normal.
Likewise if the condition is causes by a strict training regime, this may have to be altered before menstruation will return to normal.
Sometimes oligomenorrhoea requires no treatment. This is often the case with adolescents who have recently started to have periods and women who are coming up to their menopause.
Back to top of page