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
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.
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
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
- Intense or excessive physical exercise. The
use of anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance may also cause oligomenorrhoea.
- Chronic illness.
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
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.
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