What Is Premature Ovarian Insufficiency?


As promised, each Thursday, we will now offer you a piece of educational, science, or research-related information.  The purpose of our #ThursdayThoughts post is to share with you fact-based content that can enlighten and assist you on your fertility journey.  Enjoy our post! Helping to Create New Beginnings….

What Is Premature Ovarian Insufficiency?

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) or premature ovarian failure (POF) occurs when a woman loses ovarian function before the age of 40.  Naturally, many women experience reduced fertility after age 40.   After age 40 periods may become irregular. This change in pattern can signify the transition into menopause, although this transition may last many years. Indeed, many women may still be fertile in their 40s.  Women with POI experience a change in periods sooner than expected, although they may still spontaneously ovulate.  Approximately 1% of women are affected by POI.1  Due to its impact on egg quantity and quality, women with POI tend to have trouble getting pregnant.

Some causes of POI include genetic disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and undergoing cancer treatments.   If POI is suspected, certain tests are done to help determine the cause of POI.  These blood tests include genetic, chromosomal, and other hormone testing.   A vaginal ultrasound is done to check the ovaries and how many antral follicles are present.   Women can also be at increased risk for POI if other family members have been diagnosed in the past. 

Initial symptoms of POI include change in menstrual cycle pattern or irregular menses or missed periods.  Other symptoms that women might experience before age 40 include hot flashes, night sweats, decreased sex drive, and vaginal dryness.  Management of POI includes hormone replacement and reproductive assistance if pursuing pregnancy. 

For more information regarding evaluation and treatment options that are available, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers at the Fertility Institute of Hawaii 808-545-2800 or visit our website at https://www.ivfcenterhawaii.com

Deepti Goswami, Gerard S. Conway, Premature ovarian failure, Human Reproduction Update, Volume 11, Issue 4, July/August 2005, Pages 391–410, https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmi012

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