Premature ovarian failure or POF refers to the loss of normal functioning of the ovaries before the age of 40. Since the ovaries do not produce sufficient amounts of oestrogen hormone or release ova regularly, the condition often leads to infertility. However, it is possible that a woman with premature ovarian failure could achieve pregnancy with treatment.
Symptoms of the Condition
The symptoms of POF may include the following –
• Irregular periods
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Hot flashes
• Vaginal dryness
• Difficulty concentrating, irritability
• Sexual dysfunction
• Mood swings
• Night sweats or fatigue
Missing periods for three months or more could also be a sign of premature ovarian failure. You should visit a doctor upon encountering the above signs.
Diagnosis of premature ovarian failure involves a thorough physical examination. The doctor might go through your medical history and ask questions about the menstrual cycle. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may perform a number of tests, including pregnancy test, pelvic exam, and FSH test.
Treatment typically focuses on correcting the problems arising from deficiency of oestrogen hormone. The most common treatment option is oestrogen therapy.
• Oestrogen therapy, as a part of hormone replacement therapy, can effectively manage the symptoms of premature ovarian failure. Your doctor may recommend the use of oestrogen hormone alone, or a combination of hormones progesterone and oestrogen to cure the condition.
• Dietary supplements – Vitamin D and calcium – are also prescribed to improve oestrogen levels in your body and reduce symptoms of premature ovarian failure.
• For couples, who are unable to conceive due to the condition, in-vitro fertilization using donor eggs can be performed. This involves fertilizing the eggs taken from a donor with the sperm of the male partner in a laboratory, and placing the embryo (fertilized eggs) in the uterus.
Being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure can be emotionally challenging. However, with self-care and proper treatment, you may be able to alleviate the signs of the condition, and can expect to live a healthy life.