Primary ovarian insufficiency occurs when an individual’s ovaries stop working before age 40. It can cause an irregular menstrual cycle and fertility changes. Primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure, occurs when an individual’s ovaries stop working before age 40.The ovaries are a pair of female glands that are involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. The
Primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure, occurs when an individual’s ovaries stop working before age 40.
The ovaries are a pair of female glands that are involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. The ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone and also contain an individual’s eggs.
Primary ovarian insufficiency can lead to irregular periods and infertility. This condition is different from premature menopause.
This article describes the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for primary ovarian insufficiency.
The first sign of primary ovarian insufficiency is usually a change in the menstrual cycle. Common symptoms include:
The exact cause of primary ovarian insufficiency is usually unknown. In fact, the cause can only be determined in about 10% of cases.
Experts believe that the risk of primary ovarian insufficiency is linked to the health of the follicles, small sacs in the ovaries where eggs form and grow. In primary ovarian insufficiency, the follicles either do not function properly or run out earlier than expected.
Known risk factors of primary ovarian insufficiency include:
To diagnose primary ovarian insufficiency, your healthcare provider will start with a medical history. Your provider will ask questions about your family history and if any relatives have been diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency. They will also ask several questions about your menstrual cycle and how long it has been irregular or absent.
Other tests to expect include:
Primary ovarian insufficiency affects about 1 out of every 1,000 teens and adults between the ages of 15 and 29.
There is no known cure for primary ovarian insufficiency, and no treatment option has been proven to fully restore the function of the ovaries. Treatments are usually aimed at addressing the symptoms and possible complications.
Treatment options may include:
Because primary ovarian insufficiency affects hormone levels in the body, it can raise the risk of other health conditions, including:
Primary ovarian insufficiency occurs when an individual’s ovaries stop working before age 40. It’s believed that primary ovarian insufficiency is caused by a change in the follicles. Common symptoms include irregular periods, trouble getting pregnant, hot flashes, night sweats, trouble concentrating, irritability, and changes in sexual health. Treatments are aimed at addressing the symptoms and may include hormone therapy and calcium supplements. IVF may be used to increase the chances of becoming pregnant.
Primary ovarian insufficiency can be a devastating diagnosis for young women and individuals who menstruate. It is normal to experience a sense of loss at the time of diagnosis. Because the cause is usually unknown, it is not possible to prevent primary ovarian insufficiency. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are struggling with this diagnosis and consider meeting with a therapist for support.
The most common reason that individuals with primary ovarian insufficiency know that something is wrong is a change in their menstrual cycles. Absent or irregular menstrual cycles are often the first sign of this disease.
About 5%–10% of individuals with primary ovarian insufficiency will be able to conceive without medical intervention.
The diagnostic process for primary ovarian insufficiency usually includes a medical history, physical exam, pregnancy test, lab tests, and a pelvic ultrasound.