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Premature Ovarian Failure

Also called: Ovarian insufficiency, POF, Primary ovarian insufficiency

Summary

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is when a woman's ovaries stop working before she is 40.

POF is different from premature menopause. With premature menopause, your periods stop before age 40. You can no longer get pregnant. The cause can be natural or it can be a disease, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. With POF, some women still have occasional periods. They may even get pregnant. In most cases of POF, the cause is unknown.

Missed periods are usually the first sign of POF. Later symptoms may be similar to those of natural menopause:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal dryness

Doctors diagnose POF by doing a physical exam and lab and imaging tests.

Most women with POF cannot get pregnant naturally. Fertility treatments help a few women; others use donor eggs to have children. There is no treatment that will restore normal ovarian function. However, many health care providers suggest taking hormones until age 50.

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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