Premature ovarian failure is when a woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40 years old. It is also known as primary ovarian insufficiency.  It is  also sometimes called premature menopause but the two aren’t exactly the same. People with premature ovarian failure have irregular or occasional periods for years. They may even become pregnant. Women with premature menopause  do not have periods and cannot get pregnant.


premature ovarian failure

What are the causes of premature ovarian failure ?


Most of the time, the cause of  POF is unknown.  However some of the possible causes include :

  • autoimmune disease
  • radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • hysterectomy with both ovaries removed
  • thyroid dysfunction
  • genetics
  • viral infections
  • eating disorder
  • Turner’s syndrome
  • inadequate  gonadotropin secretion or action


What are the symptoms of premature ovarian failure ?


Missed period is usually the first sign of POF. You will also experience irregular bleeding. Other signs include :

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • irritability
  • painful sex
  • thinning or drying  of the vagina
  • poor concentration

Some people may have normal periods and show no symptoms. Diagnosis may only be discovered  when  FSH levels are measured and come back elevated.


What are my options ?


Women with POF and seeking to have children can use one of the following :

You can also use a variety of fertility treatments such as

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
  • Estradiol and corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
  • Clomid (Clomiphene citrate)
  • Human menopausal gondotropins (hMG)
  • Danazol

None of these treatments have been known to effectively restore fertility , however they are often used.




Content Sources
Premature ovarian failure. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed January 31, 2016

Premature Ovarian Failure. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Accessed January 31, 2016

Premature ovarian failure. Mayo Foundation. January 31, 2016

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