A heavy menstrual bleeding has its disadvantages. But what’s wrong if you menstruate very little?
Oligomenorrhea is used to describe light or infrequent menstruation. It’s the medical term for menstrual periods that occur at intervals of more than 35 days (five weeks), but less than six months. Some women only get their period once every three months. This can be common in women who have just started to menstruate or who are about to get their menopause.
Primary oligomenorrhea (if there has never been a normal cycle) is sometimes caused by an abnormality in the reproductive organs. If there has been a normal cycle before (secondary oligomenorrhea), then it could be caused by hormonal dysfunctions (such as hyperthyroidism), problems with the ovaries, PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, fibroids or the effects of chemotherapy.
Secondary oligomenorrhea could also be the result of excessive exercise or extreme weight loss (as is the case with anorexia nervosa). If oligomenorrhea is preventing a woman from getting pregnant, it should be treated. Naturally, in that case it’s necessary to first determine the cause and underlying medical problems.
Hypomenorrhea is the medical term for short or scanty periods; there is extremely light menstrual blood flow and/or blood loss for only a short period of time (less than three days). Women with hypomenorrhea do have regular cycle intervals.
In most cases, the exact medical cause of hypomenorrhea stays unknown. It usually doesn’t affect your chances of getting pregnant. Most women who take the contraceptive pill have shorter and lighter periods, so oral contraceptives could be a cause.
Sometimes it can also be caused by Asherman syndrome; a rare condition, characterized by adhesions and/or fibrosis of the endometrium, which results in menstrual disorders. But as long as you don’t suffer from other complaints, such as unbearable tummy pain, there’s usually nothing to worry about if you have short periods. This makes hypomenorrhea perhaps the best ‘menstrual disorder’ out there.
Not menstruating at all? That’s called amenorrhea. There can be different things that cause your menstruation to stop unexpectedly. Read about it here.