Oligomenorrhea (Short and Light Menstrual Periods)

Oligomenorrhoea is a cycle disorder (menstrual disorder) with various possible causes. Combating the causes usually has a positive effect on oligomenorrhea.

Oligomenorrhea (Short and Light Menstrual Periods)

What is oligomenorrhea?

According to the definition of the WHO (World Health Organization), oligomenorrhoea is when the female cycle is prolonged or when the menstrual period is too short and weak. The opposite of this is menorrhagia (long and heavy menstrual bleeding). See acronymmonster for Definition of Food Poisoning in English.

A distinction can be made between the so-called primary and secondary oligomenorrhoea: Primary oligomenorrhoea is present when an affected woman has had menstrual bleeding that is too rare or too short and weak since the first menstrual period (menarche).

In the case of secondary oligomenorrhoea, the menstrual periods after menarche initially corresponded to the norm and only over time did menstrual bleeding become too infrequent or too short and weak.

A cycle extension in oligomenorrhea can be at least 35 days and at most 90 days. Oligomenorrhea often occurs at the onset of puberty or at the onset of menopause.


There are many possible causes of oligomenorrhea. If oligomenorrhoea occurs in the first period after menarche or before menopause, it can be an expression of the hormonal changes that take place in the female body.

However, various diseases can also lead to oligomenorrhea. For example, there may be disorders that affect the function of the ovaries or hormonal diseases that cause too much male hormones to be produced.

Disorders of the thyroid function (both underactive and overactive) or tumors such as uterine cancer can also lead to oligomenorrhea. In addition, oligomenorrhea can be psychologically promoted (e.g. due to high levels of stress) and also be the result of anorexia.

Last but not least, doing competitive sports in women can lead to the occurrence of oligomenorrhea.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The main symptom of the disease is an infrequent menstrual period. In oligomenorrhea, cycles are lengthened to 35 to 90 days. In rare cases, even longer periods of time are possible. Affected women usually had normal long cycles of about 24 to 30 days before the onset of oligomenorrhea.

Normally, the bleeding is lighter and shorter than before. However, they can also occur with the usual strength and duration. Rarely, there is very light bleeding and spotting, which can last up to two weeks. Hormonally conditioned women can experience further menstrual disturbances. This can lead to bleeding between periods or increased menstrual cramps.

Depending on the underlying disease and the cause of the oligomenorrhea, other symptoms may be present. If ovarian cysts or polycystic ovarian syndrome are also present, this can lead to severe weight gain and obesity. Increasing masculinization rarely occurs.

Those affected perceive increased body hair. Beard growth on the face and loss of hair on the head can also occur. The clitoris rarely enlarges and muscle mass builds up. If an elevated prolactin level is the cause of oligomenorrhea, the breasts of those affected secrete a milky fluid.

Diagnosis & History

Diagnosing the causes of oligomenorrhea usually begins with a patient consultation with the treating gynecologist ; Patients are often asked about their medical history, which can often give the doctor clues as to possible causes of oligomenorrhea.

This is usually followed by a gynecological examination, during which the ovaries, uterus and vagina are scanned. In order to be able to diagnose the causes of oligomenorrhea, these examination steps are often supplemented by performing an ultrasound examination.

Blood tests can also be used to identify any hormonal disorders or other diseases that may have led to oligomenorrhea.

Usually, in the course of oligomenorrhea, only the symptoms of menstrual bleeding that is too rare or too short and weak appear. Depending on the cause of oligomenorrhea, in individual cases it can lead to obesity, fluid discharge from the breasts or excessive body hair.


Those affected by this disease suffer from various symptoms. However, the further course and treatment of this disease depend heavily on the underlying disease, so that no general course can be given. As a rule, however, the patients suffer from very weak menstrual bleeding, which, however, lasts for a long time.

Menstrual cycle disorders and strong mood swings occur. Depression or other mental illnesses can also occur as a result of illness and have a negative effect on the quality of life and also on the relationship with one’s partner. Furthermore, those affected suffer from cysts on the ovaries and in many cases also from excessive hair growth. Hairiness can also lead to reduced self-esteem or inferiority complexes.

In many cases, those affected feel uncomfortable and are ashamed of the symptoms. The woman’s desire to have children may also not be fulfilled due to the disease. The treatment usually does not lead to complications. The symptoms can be alleviated with the help of hormones. In some cases, however, those affected are dependent on psychological therapy. However, life expectancy is not affected by the disease.

When should you go to the doctor?

Oligomenorrhea almost always indicates a hormonal problem or at least a change that will not normalize on its own. Therefore, every woman, regardless of age, should see a doctor if her periods are short, light and less frequent than usual. A harmless form of oligomenorrhea occurs in young girls immediately after menarche, although not in every girl. While a few girls get their regular cycles straight away, others take a cycle or two to get regular. However, if the menstrual periods do not occur as frequently as they should, then the gynecologist should be consulted.

Normally, oligomenorrhoea can also occur after pregnancy and childbirth, because the menstrual cycle has to normalize now too. Short-term oligomenorrhea also occurs after stopping hormonal contraception. These are all natural causes and not a reason to see a doctor.

Suddenly occurring oligomenorrhea, on the other hand, should be a reason for a check-up with a gynecologist, because if a woman previously had a normal cycle and this changes, there is a reason. Middle-aged women might be approaching menopause. However, oligomenorrhea can also indicate hormonal imbalance, endocrine disorders or a physical condition that needs to be recognized in time.

Treatment & Therapy

Whether medical treatment of oligomenorrhoea is necessary or sensible depends primarily on the causes of oligomenorrhoea:

If menstrual bleeding is too rare or too short and weak due to hormonal disorders and if the affected woman wishes to have children, hormonal therapy methods can be used, for example. If an overactive or underactive thyroid gland has led to oligomenorrhoea, this dysfunction can be counteracted with medication, among other things, to combat oligomenorrhoea.

Even if there is a tumor as the reason for oligomenorrhea, successful tumor treatment can also lead to the oligomenorrhea also regressing. Anorexia as the cause of oligomenorrhea is often treated using combined treatment methods:

While nutritional rehabilitation therapy is often used to help the affected woman achieve a normal weight, this therapy module is usually supplemented by individually tailored psychotherapy. With a successful course of therapy, the existing oligomenorrhoea can subsequently decrease.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for oligomenorrhea depends on what factors caused the cycle disorder. If the short and weak menstrual period occurs in times of heavy physical or mental stress, the menstrual cycle often finds its way back into its natural rhythm after the end of the strenuous phase of life. Learning relaxation techniques and living a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and adequate sleep can support this process.

Oligomenorrhoea that occurs in early puberty does not usually require treatment either and will transition into a normal menstrual cycle as soon as the hormone production in the young woman’s body has settled down. If the short and weak menstrual period is due to a mental illness such as anorexia nervosa, longer-term psychotherapeutic care of the patient may be necessary to stabilize the body and psyche.

Organically caused oligomenorrhea can often be completely eliminated by effectively treating the underlying disease. If the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, medication is used, while ovarian dysfunction or tumors are usually treated surgically. If the weak menstrual period is caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hormone therapy can support the maturation of egg cells and ovulation in women who are unable to have children. This treatment significantly increases the chance of pregnancy.


Oligomenorrhoea can initially be prevented by detecting and treating possible causative diseases at an early stage. Hormonal factors that can lead to oligomenorrhea can be positively influenced by various behavioral measures: For example, oligomenorrhea as a result of hormonal factors can be prevented by measures such as stress reduction, adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, abstaining from nicotine and avoiding being underweight and overweight.


In most cases, the person affected with oligomenorrhea has no special or direct measures of aftercare available, so that the person affected with this disease should usually consult a doctor at an early stage. Self-healing is usually not possible either, so that a visit to a doctor is always necessary for the patient.

The sooner a doctor is contacted, the better the further course of the disease will usually be. In most cases, oligomenorrhea is treated by taking various medications. It is always important to ensure that the medication is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct in order to alleviate the symptoms permanently and sustainably.

If anything is unclear, if you have any questions or if you have any side effects, you should also consult a doctor first. Most of those affected also depend on the support of their own family or partner, which can also prevent depression or other mental upsets. Oligomenorrhea does not reduce the life expectancy of the sufferer.

You can do that yourself

If oligomenorrhea occurs during puberty or shortly before menopause as a result of natural hormonal changes, this is usually not perceived as a problem – treatment is therefore not necessary. If a woman’s desire to have children cannot be fulfilled as a result of the menstrual disturbance, she should measure her basal body temperature for a certain period of time and keep a menstrual calendar: These records make it easier for the doctor to investigate the cause.

In addition to any medical treatment that may be necessary, some medicinal plants have proven themselves for use against too short and weak menstrual bleeding: Monk’s pepper should be mentioned here in particular, which can balance out hormonal imbalances and stabilize the menstrual cycle when taken over a longer period of time. In Far Eastern medicine, ginger and aloe vera are also used to stimulate menstrual bleeding. If the oligomenorrhea is due to stress or great mental stress, regular relaxation exercises such as autogenic training or yoga can helphave a balancing effect. In the case of physical overstrain, for example due to excessive physical activity, a reduction in the amount of training helps, cycle irregularities caused by being underweight usually subside after reaching a normal weight.

If the underlying cause is an eating disorder, psychotherapeutic treatment should follow. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, a balanced relationship between activity and rest and largely avoiding nicotine can also have a positive effect on the menstrual cycle.