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World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022: What Is Oligomenorrhoea? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments Of Irregular Periods

Oligomenorrhoea is a medical condition characterised by a woman's irregular and inconsistent menstrual blood flow. Irregularities in periods are normal during menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation), postpartum (after childbirth), and perimenopausal time (around menopause).

Oligomenorrhoea is diagnosed when a woman's menstrual cycle is normal before the onset of the condition, but now lasts more than 35 days (average is 28 days) or she has four to nine menstrual cycles in a year.

A study carried out on the adolescent girls of Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh) reveals that the prevalence of oligomenorrhoea is around 12.8 per cent. [1]

Here is what you need to know about oligomenorrhoea. Take a look.

Causes Of Oligomenorrhoea

Oligomenorrhoea is mainly caused as a result of hormonal imbalance in the body. Oestrogen, progesterone, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are the key hormones that help regulate menstruation and maintain its regularity and consistency.

There are many factors that may cause an imbalance in the hormones and lead to oligomenorrhoea and cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Some of the causes are:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): It is a complex endocrine disorder marked by oligomenorrhea as well as abnormal hormone levels such as hyperandrogenism, hyperinsulinemia, and gonadotropin imbalance. The condition is estimated to occur in 75-85 per cent of PCOS women and less than 18 per cent of non-PCOS women. [2]
  • Cushing syndrome: It is a condition in which the adrenal gland is forced to make more cortisol, and exposure to the hormone for a longer time leads to Cushing syndrome. The higher levels of cortisol in the body lead to menstrual irregularities. [3]
  • Tumors of the ovary: Sertoli-Leydig cell tumour is a cancer type that begins in the ovaries. It leads to the excess production of male sex hormones like testosterone, resulting in hyperandrogenism, oligomenorrhoea and the development of male characteristics in women. [4]
  • Diabetes: A study has shown that oligomenorrhoea risk is double in women with diabetes compared to women without the condition. Diabetes may lead to insulin resistance and cause hormonal problems, leading to oligomenorrhoea. [5]
  • Oral contraceptive pills: Oligomenorrhoea may occur as a side effect of discontinuation of oral contraceptives, or intake of emergency contraceptive pills. [6]

Other main causes are:

  • Tumour of the adrenal gland.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Eating disorders like bulimia.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
  • Medicines to treat psychosis.
  • Medicines to treat seizures.
  • Exercising women with PCOS. [7]

Symptoms Of Oligomenorrhoea

Some of the symptoms of oligomenorrhoea may include: [8]

  • Delayed or missed periods.
  • Hot flashes
  • Stomach pain.
  • Excess hair growth on the face.
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased libido
  • Changes in bowels.
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Change in voice tone.

Complications Of Oligomenorrhoea

Untreated oligomenorrhoea may lead to infertility and problems with conception. This is because, oligomenorrhoea may cause problems in the maturation and ovulation of an egg. Inability to ovulate may lead to irregular periods and thus, infertility or problems in pregnancy.

Diagnosis Of Oligomenorrhoea

Diagnosis is oligomenorrhoea is carried by:

  • Physical history: Here, a medical expert may ask for detailed questions related to menstruation. It could be about the flow of menses and intervals between two cycles.
  • Medical history: It includes evaluation and treatment of the underlying medical condition that is causing oligomenorrhoea.
  • Imaging: It includes imaging examinations like CT scans, MRI and abdominal region ultrasound to look for any signs of inflammation, cysts and others.
  • Tests: It includes certain blood tests like blood sugar tests and hormonal levels test like a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). [9]

Treatments Of Oligomenorrhoea

Some of the treatment methods for oligomenorrhoea may include:

  • Lifestyle changes: It is the first treatment method a medical expert may suggest. It includes changes in lifestyle like regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
  • Herbal therapies: It includes the use of medicinal plants like ghafes, komaphytus, basal and zaravand to treat oligomenorrhoea. [10]
  • Hormone therapy: It includes prescribed oral contraceptives to balance hormonal levels.

To Conclude

Oligomenorrhea is not a life-threatening condition and can be managed effectively with medications and therapies. However, irregularities in periods must be taken seriously for early diagnosis of a condition, especially if it is caused by an underlying condition like tumours or chronic diseases.

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