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  • Writer's pictureChanise | Sports Dietitian

Oligomenorrhoea: What Do I Need To Know?

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Do you have irregular or unusual menstrual periods? If it's your menarche or in the stages of postpartum or peri-menopausal, don't worry because that is entirely normal. But if your menstruation is fewer than 8 periods a year, you might be experiencing oligomenorrhoea.


Oligomenorrhoea is when you experience irregular periods that are absent for longer than 35 days, identifying as 4-9 periods in a year. In fact, oligomenorrhoea is prevalent in 13.5% of the general population, almost 60 percent of which are athletes.

An image showing a realia uterus showing oligomenorrhea

This blog includes the following:

  • Why you need to learn about Oligomenorrhoea

  • Treatment for Oligomenorrhea

  • 3 FAQs that people ask about Oligomenorrhoea


Why you need to learn about Oligomenorrhoea


Do you suffer from infrequent menstrual periods? Some athletes experiencing the loss of period/s might view this as positive since they don't have to deal with it during training. But do you know that an infrequent menstrual period, also known as oligomenorrhoea, has underlying conditions?

Menstrual cycle of Oligomenorrhea, having periods more than 35 days apart

Oligomenorrhoea, a cycle length longer than 35 days or a flow occurring 4-9 times per year. Occasionally going more than 35 days without a period can be dismissed due to multiple factors altering the regularity of our cycle. However, oligomenorrhoea may be the cause if it happens frequently. In addition, it is often seen in women during their childbearing years.


Oligomenorrhea can cause complications like:


Infertility.

Untreated oligomenorrhoea can worsen into infertility. Any valuation can lead to impairment of the endometrium essential for pregnancy.


Endometrial Hyperplasia.

A disorder when the uterine lining thickens uncontrollably.


Image of normal endometrium and endometrial hyperplasia

Osteoporosis.

Ovarian follicles are the main source of estrogen. If you are experiencing oligomenorrhoea, a loss of follicles occurs over time, which can lead to decreased estrogen. Estrogen regulates bone metabolism and so oligomenorrhea can cause osteoporosis through a loss of bone density.

Image of normal bones versus bones with osteoporosis

Cardiovascular Problems.

A decrease in estrogen caused by anovulation during oligomenorrhoea escalates the risk of having myocardial ischemia.


Treatment for Oligomenorrhea


Female athletes experiencing oligomenorrhoea should be given enhanced healthcare assistance from their team and coaches. They need to be aided by a sports dietitian and psychiatrist, most especially athletes who are facing mental stressors.


If you need support and guidance in modifying your diet, click here to be directed to our Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Chanise our sports dietitian

The underlying reason will largely determine how oligomenorrhoea is treated, where multiple lifestyle changes may not be necessary, however, can be trialed for treatment.


Changing Lifestyle


Low energy availability in athletes can be an underlying cause for the loss of periods and oligomenorrhea, where high amounts of activity and stressors surpass the amount of energy provided to maintain homeostasis through nutrition. Oligomenorrhoea can be treated with multiple lifestyle changes:

  • Behavior modification

  • Nutrition

  • Psychotherapy

  • Stress reduction strategies

Images for Behavior modification, Nutrition Psychotherapy, and Stress reduction strategies

3 FAQs that people ask about Oligomenorrhoea


Is Oligomenorrhoea a symptom of PCOS?


Primary ovarian insufficiency brought on by anovulation and polycystic ovarian disease constitutes PCOS or infertility. However, it doesn't follow that it is a sign of PCOS. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a symptom of PCOS.


Is Oligomenorrhoea serious?


Over time, oligomenorrhoea can be dangerous if not treated. With the help of health professionals, changes to hormones through lifestyle alterations can regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the onset of osteoporosis, infertility, and cancer.


Is Oligomenorrhoea curable?

Changes to the woman's diet and exercise regimen may be sufficient for some athletes to help them resume a regular menstrual cycle and reduce the health implications of oligomenorrhoea.


It is important to identify the root of the issue of oligomenorrhoea to prevent infertility. In addition, it can raise the risk of endometrial cancer and endometrial hyperplasia if left untreated. Let us send you the best topics for female athletes' health tips. Click here to subscribe.

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