Premature Ovarian Failure
Premature ovarian failure is reduced function of the ovaries (including decreased production of hormones).
Ovarian hypofunction; Ovarian insufficiency
Premature ovarian failure may be caused by genetic factors such as chromosome abnormalities. It may also occur with certain autoimmune disorders that disrupt the normal function of the ovaries.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also cause the condition to occur.
Women with premature ovarian failure may develop symptoms of menopause, which include:
- Hot flashes
- Irregular or absent periods
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
This condition may also make it hard for a woman to become pregnant.
Exams and Tests
A blood test will be done to check your level of follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH. FSH levels are higher than normal in women with premature ovarian failure.
Other blood tests may be done to look for autoimmune disorders or thyroid disease.
Women with premature ovarian failure who want to become pregnant may be concerned about their ability to conceive. Those younger than age 30 may have a chromosome analysis to check for problems. In most cases, older women who are close to menopause do not need this test.
Estrogen therapy often helps relieve menopausal symptoms and prevents bone loss. However, it will not increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Fewer than 1 in 10 women with this condition will be able to get pregnant. The chance of getting pregnant increases to 50% when you use a fertilized donor egg (an egg from another woman).
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- You are no longer having monthly periods.
- You have symptoms of early menopause.
- You are having difficulty becoming pregnant.
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Bulun SE. Physiology and pathology of the female reproductive axis. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 17.
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