Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

Definition

Primary ovarian failure (POF) is the stoppage of ovaries before menopause has started. Ovaries make certain hormones called estrogen and progesterone that affect many parts of the body. Loss or changes in these hormones can affect the health of the bones, heart, and blood vessels.

Female Reproductive Organs

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Causes

POF is caused by damage or destruction of the ovaries. Common reasons include:

In some women, the cause may not be known.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of POF include:

Symptoms

Symptoms are similar to those of menopause and may include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam and a pelvic exam may also be done.

The blood may be tested to look for changes in hormone levels.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to manage any problems caused by the change in hormones. You and your doctor can talk about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or estrogen/progestogen contraceptive pills—To replace hormones until the age of natural menopause.
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplement—To support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Infertility is a common problem with POF. In vitro fertilization may be an option for some who wish to have a pregnancy.

Women who are planning a procedure or treatment with a risk of POF may consider fertility preservation and family planning options before undergoing treatment. One option is to preserve healthy eggs to be used during in vitro at a later date.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting POF, women with cancer should discuss cancer treatment options with their doctors.