Premature ovarian failure (POF), also called primary ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause, occurs when ovaries fail to function properly in women under 40 years of age.
A woman diagnosed with POF experiences infertility because her ovaries no longer release eggs regularly or produce the amount of estrogen needed to conceive naturally.
How do I know if I have premature ovarian failure?
Symptoms of premature ovarian failure are similar to symptoms of menopause. They can include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular or skipped periods, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and irritability. Women should visit with their gynecologist once their third period is skipped in order to rule out any other reproductive issues and receive a formal diagnosis.
What causes premature ovarian failure?
• An autoimmune disease
• Toxins, like chemotherapy and radiation from cancer treatment
• A chromosomal disorder (genetic condition)
Unfortunately, POF can also be caused by unknown factors.
How is premature ovarian failure treated?
Outside of addressing infertility, POF is mainly treated with estrogen therapy, which will help relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Vitamin supplements and lifestyle changes, such as an increase of calcium intake, may also be used. Currently, there is no cure to return fertility to women with POF, and only about 10 percent of women with POF are able to conceive naturally. For women with POF who wish to build their families, there is the option of using an egg donor and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby.
How does egg donation work for women with premature ovarian failure?
For those who choose to use an egg donor, they can decide to know the egg donor personally, known as directed donation, or to select an anonymous donor from a database who best meets their qualifications. Once a woman decides what type of donor to use, she will then need to decide if she wants to use fresh donated eggs or frozen donor eggs.
Fertility Solutions is happy to assist anyone who wants to use an egg donor to have a baby. We work with all types of egg donors in order to help women with POF – and all infertile and LGBTQ patients — build their families. If you have questions about using an egg donor, please contact Fertility Solutions.