Menstrual Cycle Disorders: Oligomenorrhea

The current world’s population is about 7.8 billion and most statistics agree that we have slightly more women than men. So, one can appreciate the vast number of women that occupy this space called earth.

While irregular menstruation is a female thing, there’s no reason why you, dear gentleman would not spare a couple of minutes to understand what your sister, friend or spouse goes through every month for a very long time in her reproductive years.

Dear sister, let’s go through a few facts about what goes on in your body monthly.

Menstruation or period as it’s commonly called is a normal, very normal if I may add, vaginal bleeding that occurs in a woman every month.

This is because, the body tries to prepare for a pregnancy monthly. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus or womb sheds its lining which results in bleeding through the vagina.

The very first time a woman sees her period is called Menarche which occurs between the ages of 11 and 14 and continues to Menopause at about age 51(could be earlier)

Menstruation during puberty is controlled by an interaction of hormones. These hormones are also responsible for the pattern and duration of the menstrual cycle during the reproductive years as well as when menstruation ends (Menopause).

These hormones include Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinising Hormone (LH), Estrogen and Progesterone.

The Three Phases of The Menstrual cycle

The follicular phase which occurs before the egg is released,

The ovulatory phase which occurs when the egg is released

The luteal phase taking place after the egg has been released.

It is worthy to note that a normal menstrual cycle is fairly consistent, it’s about four weeks (28 days) long although it can vary from 24 – 35 days and has a duration of 3 – 5 days.

A menstrual bleeding may be considered abnormal if the flow is too heavy, too light, if the duration is too long or the cycle is just irregular.

Some Examples of Menstrual Disorder

  1. Amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual period)
  2. Menstrual Cramps (dysmenorrhoea)
  3. Premature Menopause (Primary Ovarian Insufficiency)
  4. Premenstrual Syndrome etc.

The focus of this piece is IRREGULAR MENSTRUATION.

Irregular menstruation also known as oligomenorrhea occurs when the length of a cycle is greater than 35 days or the duration ranges from only four to nine ‘’periods’’ in a year.

Possible causes include:

  • Use of contraceptives
  • Lack of coordination among the various hormones
  • Heavy exercises (athlete triad)
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Eating disorders and emotional stress.

The symptoms to watch out for include: menstruation with unpredictable flow, menstrual periods occurring more than 35 days apart, unusually scanty flow, and difficulty in conceiving.

This condition can be successfully managed and treatment approach depends on the underlying cause.

So, if you observe any of the symptom mentioned, do well to talk to your gynecologist so that the appropriate course of action can be taken early enough.

Maggie Wonah