Premature ovarian failure (POF) is a distressing diagnosis given to approximately 1% of reproductive-aged women. It is defined as absence of menses and a persistent elevation in FSH levels in women who are under the age of 40. Ovarian failure means that the egg reserves within both ovaries had been depleted, leading to a menopausal state. In addition to amenorrhea (absence of menses), patients may experience other menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness, and irritability.
The causes for POF are various and may include autoimmune factors (autoimmune polyglandular syndrome), enzymatic/genetic defects (galactosemia), chromosomal abnormalities (Turner syndrome), infection (mumps), cancer treatment (chemotherapy/radiation), and unexplained factors.
Diagnosing POF early is important because aggressive intervention (such as in vitro fertilization), in certain clinical situations, may still lead to pregnancy. On rare occasions, simple treatment with oral contraceptive pills may induce spontaneous follicular growth in the ovary, which can lead to pregnancy. Fortunately, women with POF who have failed other treatments have an excellent chance of conceiving with egg donation. Rarely, some women with specific types of POF must resort to gestational surrogacy as well in order to achieve pregnancy.
Since POF is often accompanied by other systemic illnesses, a through investigation for associated disorders is mandatory. Certain affiliated medical conditions must be diagnosed and treated early to improve a patient’s general health and reduce risk for future disorders.
At the California Center for Reproductive Health POF is diagnosed and treated in a comprehensive manner. Every effort is made to ensure the health of the patient and the well-being of her pregnancy.