A woman whose ovaries stop working before the age of forty has premature ovarian insufficiency or POI.
While normal ovarian function includes production of eggs and hormones, these functions stop with premature ovarian insufficiency (previously called premature ovarian failure). Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) occurs in about one percent of women and can even occur in teenagers. Currently there is no treatment for premature ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms and causes of premature ovarian insufficiency
Premature ovarian insufficiency has symptoms similar to menopause: hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability, night sweats and difficulty sleeping. The menstrual cycle may vary and eventually cease.
The cause of POI is often unknown. Contributing factors that may cause premature ovarian insufficiency include autoimmune disorders, especially those that affect the thyroid and adrenal glands; genetics also play a role. Premature ovarian insufficiency may also be caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Because of low estrogen levels, women with premature ovarian insufficiency may be more at risk for osteoporosis and heart disease. If a genetic condition causes premature ovarian insufficiency, there may be long-term risks involved and genetic testing might be considered.
Treatment for premature ovarian insufficiency
There is currently no treatment for the non-reversible causes of POI. Some ovarian function may return after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. About eight percent of women with premature ovarian failure conceive at some point in their lifetime. Hormone therapy, estrogen and progesterone, as well as non-hormone therapy, may be used to treat the symptoms of premature ovarian insufficiency.
Dr. Susan Hudson at Texas Fertility Center of New Braunfels specializes in treating women with POI. If you live in the greater South Central Texas area and you’re having trouble getting pregnant, contact us today to find out more about our innovative fertility treatments.