Premature Ovarian Failure: When Ovarian Function is Lost Before Age 40
Premature ovarian failure, also known as premature ovarian sufficiency, occurs when the ovaries no longer sufficiently produce eggs and the hormone estrogen. Premature ovarian failure affects 1% of women.
Sometimes people confuse premature ovarian failure with premature menopause, but they are not the same. If a woman experiences premature menopause, she will not have periods, and she will not be able to conceive a child. However, if she has premature ovarian failure, she may still have periods, although they may only occur irregularly. Approximately 10% of women with this condition may still become pregnant by using their own eggs — with or without some form of fertility assistance.
Ovation Fertility supports our partner physicians who help patients manage this rare but treatable condition. One option is IVF, which may include the use of donor eggs.
Symptoms of Premature Ovarian Failure
Some women who have premature ovarian failure will not have any symptoms and will not realize that they have the condition until they pursue fertility testing. Women with a genetic condition causing premature ovarian failure may never experience the normal stages of puberty, including the beginning of menstruation.
Other women with this condition experience vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes or cessation of menses — symptoms normally associated with menopause.
Identifying the Causes
- In many cases, premature ovarian failure is the result of genetic issues, such as Turner’s syndrome or Fragile X syndrome.
- Premature ovarian failure also can be caused by conditions such as endometriosis, which damages or destroys the ovary or ovarian tissues.
- An ovary also may be destroyed or damaged by radiation and chemotherapy, which can affect egg production.
- In rare instances, an autoimmune disorder may cause a woman to develop anti-ovarian antibodies that attack the eggs in the ovary.
Ovation partner physicians recommend a chromosomal evaluation for women who are diagnosed with premature ovarian failure to look for genetic causes and other diseases that may be associated with the condition. Although most women will have normal results, we especially need to identify women who have a small fragment of the Y chromosome because it puts them at an increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Donor eggs and assisted reproductive technology provide hope for women with premature ovarian failure.
Ovation understands how devastating the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure can be, but our partner physicians offer hope. The success of IVF using donor eggs is very high, providing a viable way for a woman with this condition to have a family. Eggs may be obtained from a relative (a sister or cousin), who shares a woman’s genetic background, or from a known or anonymous donor.
The Ovation team is here to help you create the family you desire. Contact us for more information.