Despite the commonly used name Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), this condition is associated with about a 5-10% chance of a natural pregnancy for many years after the diagnosis. That’s why Ovarian Insufficiency may be a better term to describe this condition. Premature Ovarian Failure/ Ovarian Insufficiency present with amenorrhea (absence of periods), high FSH levels and low estrogen levels in women younger than 40 years of age.
There are many conditions which cause or are associated with POF. These include:
- Abnormalities in chromosomes such as Fragile X or Turner Syndrome
- Abnormalities in the body’s enzymes or hormones
- Environment factors such as chemotherapy treatment, radiation treatment, certain viral infections and previous surgery which may have removed the ovaries or hurt their blood supply and function
- Several immune disorders are associated with POF, but whether they are the actual cause of POF is unclear. Screening for some of these immune disorders, such as thyroid and adrenal diseases and diabetes, is warranted.
Following a thorough evaluation, treatments will include counseling and appropriate referrals (e.g. support groups), estrogen therapy and calcium and vitamin supplementation, and treatment of any associated conditions identified (e.g. osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, etc.). If pregnancy is desired, Donor Egg IVF is highly successful and is an option for some couples.