Premature Ovarian Failure and Infertility

Premature ovarian failure is the medical term used to describe early menopause.

Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 42 and 56. Premature ovarian failure (early menopause) is a condition in which menopause occurs before the age of 40. Women who develop early menopause usually have run out of eggs in their ovaries. The cause of premature ovarian failure is generally unknown. However, there are a few reasons why the ovaries may stop producing eggs at an early age. Exposure to certain┬áchemicals or medical treatments can damage or destroy the ovaries. These may include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are sometimes associated with an early menopause because the immune system forms antibodies that attack and damage the ovaries. Heredity can also play a role – some genetic disorders lead to early menopause.

How premature ovarian failure is diagnosed

Your medical history is important in diagnosing premature ovarian failure. However, other tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. You may need one or more of the following blood tests:

  • FSH blood level – a high level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in your blood at a specific time in your cycle may indicate ovarian failure.
  • Immunology testing – tests that diagnose autoimmune problems of the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal gland that may be related to developing early menopause.
  • Karyotype – a blood test that evaluates your chromosomes, used to diagnose genetic causes of ovarian failure.

The only option for reproductive treatment of premature ovarian failure is donor oocyte in vitro fertilization.