Primary ovarian failure (POF) is the stoppage of ovaries before menopause has started. Ovaries make certain hormones called estrogen and progesterone that affect many parts of the body. Loss or changes in these hormones can affect the health of the bones, heart, and blood vessels.
POF is caused by damage or destruction of the ovaries. Common reasons include:
- Hysterectomy with ovarian removal
- Genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome
- Medical treatment, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy
- Autoimmune disease
In some women, the cause may not be known.
Factors that increase your chances of POF include:
Symptoms are similar to those of menopause and may include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Decreased interest in sex
- Difficulty sleeping
- Vaginal dryness
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam and a pelvic exam may also be done.
The blood may be tested to look for changes in hormone levels.
The goal of treatment is to manage any problems caused by the change in hormones. You and your doctor can talk about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or estrogen/progestogen contraceptive pills—To replace hormones until the age of natural menopause.
- Vitamin D and calcium supplement—To support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Women who are planning a procedure or treatment with a risk of POF may consider fertility preservation and family planning options before undergoing treatment. One option is to preserve healthy eggs to be used during in vitro at a later date.
To help reduce your chance of getting POF, women with cancer should discuss cancer treatment options with their doctors.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2016 -
- Update Date: 12/21/2016 -