Premature ovarian failure

A woman is born with about 1 million eggs in her ovaries for her entire life, with no possibility of generating new ones in the future. Eighty per cent of women exhaust their ovarian reserve by the age of 45 or 50, leading to menopause. However, in some cases the ovaries stop functioning before
she reaches the age of 40 and this is known as "premature ovarian failure".

Causes of premature ovarian failure

This condition affects 1 in 100 women of reproductive age and, in addition to causing the cessation of ovulation, leads to a decrease in the level of oestrogen in the blood, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Some of the most common causes are:
Genetic defects (Turner's syndrome and Fragile X syndrome)
Immune system disorders (Lupus and Addison's disease)
Enzymatic or metabolic problems (Galactosemia and haemochromatosis)
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Diseases such as diabetes and anorexia nervosa
Cancer treatments: chemotherapy, radiotherapy, radiopathy
Pelvic surgeries with removal of both ovaries
Exposure to pesticides
It is important to note that premature ovarian failure can be hereditary and women with mothers or sisters who have premature ovarian failure are more likely to develop it.

Symptoms of premature ovarian failure

Irregular and delayed menstrual periods
Amenorrhoea or absence of menstruation
Hot flushes or hot flashes
Vaginal dryness
Decreased libido
Night sweats
Pain during sexual intercourse
Energy loss
Irritability and frequent mood swings
Difficulty concentrating

Diagnosis of premature ovarian failure

The diagnosis is made through a blood test that looks for a high level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and a low level of oestradiol, to determine premature ovarian failure. Your doctor will also perform some additional tests to determine the causes of premature ovarian failure and offer you the best possible treatment.

If you are under 40 and suffer from menstrual disorders or any of the symptoms of premature ovarian failure, it is recommended that you have a blood test between the third and fifth day of your menstrual cycle (if you no longer menstruate you can have the test any day) to determine if your ovaries are functioning correctly.

Can I have a baby if I have premature ovarian failure?

Although there is no treatment to restore normal ovarian function, in vitro Fertilization with egg donation offers success rates of up to 85% for women who wish to become mothers.
Any fertility treatment should go hand in hand with hormone therapy with oestrogen and progesterone. This alleviates the menopausal symptoms of premature ovarian failure and helps prevent complications such as osteoporosis.

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