Although the exact cause of premature ovarian failure is unknown, a genetic factor or a problem with the body's immune system may play a role in some women. In an immune system disorder, the body may attack its own tissues the ovaries. Premature ovarian failure may develop after a hysterectomy or other pelvic surgery or from radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer. In some of these cases, the condition may be temporary, with the ovaries starting to work again some years later. With POF, some women still have occasional periods. They may even get pregnant. In most cases of POF, the cause is unknown.
The symptoms of premature ovarian failure are similar to those of menopause and are typical of estrogen deficiency. They include:
Irregular or skipped periods (amenorrhea), which may be present for years or may develop after a pregnancy or after stopping birth control pills
Irritability or difficulty concentrating
Decreased sexual desire
Making the Diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
The first step in making the diagnosis is a blood test to check whether or not the ovary is producing estrogen and whether the pituitary gland is producing the hormones FSH and LH that stimulate the ovarian follicles. If the pituitary hormones are elevated and the ovary is not producing estrogen, then the diagnosis of POF is made. A transvaginal ultrasound may also be done to evaluate the ovaries. In POF patients, the ovaries are usually small and there are few follicles seen.
Treatment options available for Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
Treatment for premature ovarian failure will help to manage the symptoms. There is currently no treatment that will make the ovaries start to work properly again. Doctor may prescribe hormone therapy or other medicines to help with hot flashes. Hormone therapy can also help prevent early bone loss in women who have premature ovarian failure. Some women with premature ovarian failure may choose to try to become pregnant using donor eggs and in vitro fertilization.
Estrogen therapy and Calcium and vitamin D supplements help prevent osteoporosis. None of these treatments have been proven to be effective in restoring fertility. However, 8% of women with POF who have conceived were using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Even though there is no absolute treatment, HRT has been one aid in helping women achieve pregnancy.
Egg donation is, undoubtedly, the most successful treatment option for women with POF. With their own eggs, POF patients have a very low pregnancy chance. POF patient with egg donor program has high chance of achieving pregnancy.
Factors that increase the risk of developing premature ovarian failure include age where the risk of ovarian failure rises sharply between age 35 and age 40. Another is family history. Having a family history of premature ovarian failure increases your risk of developing this disorder.
Complications of premature ovarian failure include:
Infertility: Inability to get pregnant may be the most troubling complication of premature ovarian failure, although in rare cases, pregnancy is possible. There's no treatment proved to restore fertility in women with this condition. Some women and their partners choose to pursue a pregnancy through in vitro fertilization using donor eggs. The procedure involves removing eggs from a donor and fertilizing them with your partner's sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg (embryo) is then placed in your uterus. During this process, you take medication that balances your hormones to support a pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is established, you stop taking the medication and the pregnancy proceeds naturally to the delivery.
Osteoporosis: The hormone estrogen helps maintain strong bones. Women with low levels of estrogen have an increased risk of developing weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis), which are more likely to break than healthy bones.
or anxiety: The
risk of infertility and other complications arising from low
estrogen levels may cause some women to become depressed or
At this time, there is no way to prevent premature ovarian failure. But you can take steps to protect your overall health. Women with premature ovarian failure have a higher risk of bone thinning and fractures (osteoporosis), diabetes, and heart disease. A balanced and low- fat diet, regular exercise, and not smoking can help protect your bones and heart. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D may help slow bone loss. Talk to your doctor about other steps you can take.
Fertility preservation, whether through ovarian tissue cryopreservation, egg freezing or embryo freezing, is the latest ART technology. It helps women with the option of attaining motherhood at the later stage in the life. It also helps cancer patients to become pregnant after the treatment. Fertility preservation may become a major part of proactive POF treatment in the future.
Learning that you have premature ovarian failure may be emotionally difficult. But with proper treatment and self-care, you can expect to lead a healthy life. Rupal Hospital for Women is a premiere leader in women's healthcare since 45 long years. They are committed to providing women with the highest quality and most advanced healthcare throughout all stages of their lives, from adolescence through menopause.
The team of specialist doctors at Rupal hospital helps and guides women with the premature ovarian failure problems in treatment and having a baby using donor egg IVF & assisted reproductive technology. The doctors at Rupal Hospital educate and create awareness amongst the women about the nature of their disease and the current treatments available.