What It Is
A cessation of periods and loss of ovarian function in girls and women under age 40. Women with POF may not menstruate at all, or may menstruate very infrequently.
Who Gets It
POF affects approximately 1 percent of American women up to the age of 40.
Women with POF stop having periods. Sometimes their periods may be normal for a few months and then skip a few months. Generally the symptoms are the same as the onset of natural menopause: hot flashes or night sweats, sleeping problems, mood swings, vaginal dryness, energy loss, low sex drive, painful sex, and bladder control problems.
How It's Diagnosed/Detected
Women under 40 whose menstrual periods have stopped or become infrequent should see a doctor for an evaluation. POF is sometimes associated with autoimmune disorders such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or adrenal problems.
How It Affects Fertility
Up to half of all women with POF may ovulate once in any given year, and 5 to 10 percent may become pregnant on their own. But most women who have received a diagnosis of POF will not be able to become pregnant without help. A variety of drug and hormone treatment regimens are used to treat POF, although none have been proven to be effective at restoring fertility. Some women with POF are able to become pregnant on their own after treatment, others opt to use donor eggs and IVF (in vitro fertilization), and some choose to adopt.
Generally, POF is treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) at a higher dose than that given to women who have entered menopause. Hormone replacement therapy generally consists of estrogen and progesterone, but sometimes also includes testosterone. Additionally, women with POF are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to exercise regularly (aerobics and weight-training) to decease the risks of osteoporosis and heart disease. At this point, as mentioned above, there is no treatment proven to restore fertility for women with POF.
Even though there is no definitive treatment, 8 percent of women with POF who have conceived were using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, in most cases donor eggs or adoption are the ways in which women with POF become mothers.
- A few months after my first child was born, I wanted to be pregnant again—as soon as possible. I wanted my children to be close in age, the closer...
- You might have spent most of your life (and an excruciatingly embarrassing high school health class) learning how to avoid getting pregnant, but...
- There’s no need to feel deprived when you’re trying to get pregnant. Quite the opposite. Check out these foods that taste great and can help keep...
- By now you’ve probably heard of Clomid, the most commonly-used fertility drug in the United States. But do you really know how it works and what the possible side effects can be? If fertility drugs are your next step in the attempt to get pregnant, then here is a quick rundown of the seven medications your doctor is most likely to prescribe.