What causes oligomenorrhea?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
Oligomenorrhea, now called infrequent menstruation, can have several causes. Sometimes, particularly in younger women, there is a benign tumor in the pituitary. An important contributor to infrequent menstruation is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The development of a lining in the uterus continues without ovulation and the signal for the lining to slough off. Sometimes the uterine lining continues to increase in thickness and weight, until some lining breaks away and sloughs off. The woman thinks she has menstruated when she actually still retains lining material. Another important cause of infrequent menstruation is the signal for both egg and lining development fail. In this case, the woman has a very thin lining. She may also have very low levels of hormones, which can affect other parts of her body. Ultrasound, blood tests, and the woman's menstrual record help in distinguishing causes of infrequent menstruation.

Oligomenorrhea can result from a variety of causes. Frequently, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) produce an excess of male hormones, or androgens, which disrupt the menstrual cycle. These women often have oligomenorrhea as a result. Tumors, illnesses, and eating disorders often cause oligomenorrhea. Women athletes who follow extreme diets and demanding fitness schedules have complications with oligomenorrhea.

Continue Learning about Oligomenorrhea



Oligomenorrhea is a condition where a woman experiences irregular menstrual cycles. If you have oligomenorrhea, you may not experience a period every month. Rather, your periods will come at unpredictable times, perhaps only a few ...

times a year. This can sometimes be caused when a pituitary tumor causes estrogen levels to decrease and prolactin levels to rise. Or you may develop this condition as a side effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). With PCOS, your ovaries and/or adrenal glands produce an overload of androgens, which interferes with normal ovulation, leading to oligomenorrhea.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.