September 20, 2011

Oligomenorrhea is infrequent menstrual bleeding that occurs at intervals greater than 5 weeks or 35 days. Normal menstrual bleeding occurs every 28 days with a normal range of 21-35 days. The duration of flow is 4.5 days with a range of 2-7 days. Normal blood loss at menses is 35 ml with a range of 20-80 ml.

Causes of oligomenorrhea include any condition that may disrupt key components of the body endocrine system (the hypothalamic-pituitary axis). Common groups in which this may be seen include patients with eating disorders, ballet dancers, and competitive athletes such as runners, gymnasts, and ice skaters, especially if training started in the prepubertal years. This condition can also be found in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome, conditions of abnormal metabolism (dysmetabolic syndromes), and in patients with fluctuating weight patterns.

Treatment includes cyclic progestin therapy or oral contraceptives to induce periods and protect the lining of the uterus (endometrium) long term from the development of abnormal, excessive cell growth (hyperplasia).

SEE ALSO: Menstrual cycle disorders

Suggested Reading

  • Emans, S. J. H., & Goldstein, D. P. (1990). Pediatric and adolescent gynecology. Boston: Little, Brown.
  • Herbst, A., Mishell, D., Stenchever, M., & Droegemueller, W. (1992). Comprehensive gynecology. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book.
  • Stenchever, M. (1991). Office gynecology. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book.

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Category: O