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O: What Is Oligomenorrhea?

22/01/2010 17:55 | Updated 22 May 2015

Oligomenorrhea is a complication of the menstrual cycle. It is the term used to describe infrequent, light and irregular menstrual periods that are at least 35 days apart. It can cause problems with conceiving, as well as making a woman more susceptible to broken or fractured bones.

The condition begins once menstruation is established, and can affect women who have had a previously healthy cycle. While most women will experience occasional disruption to their menstrual cycle, women suffering from oligomenorrhea will always experience unpredictable menstrual periods until the condition is successfully treated.

Treatment depends entirely on the suspected cause, with some causes being easier to treat than others. For example, social factors such as stress, illness, over exercise, poor diet and frequent travel can cause the onset of oligomenorrhea. A normal menstrual cycle can be reintroduced by addressing these issues accordingly.

In most cases it is caused by a hormonal imbalance, which happens when a woman produces too many male hormones and too few female hormones. This can be treated with medication that corrects the balance, and a normal cycle should be restored.

It can also be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This develops when a woman produces too many male hormones, which in turn causes tiny cysts to form inside the ovaries.

This interferes with ovulation which then disrupts menstruation. There is no cure for PCOS, although it can be managed through weight control and other therapies such as acupuncture.

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