Premature ovarian failure

Alternative names
Ovarian hypofunction

Definition
Ovarian hypofunction is decreased function of the ovaries, including decreased production of hormones.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ovarian hypofunction may be caused by genetic factors, such as chromosome abnormalities, or it may occur in the presence of autoimmune disorders in which antibodies disrupt normal ovarian function.

Symptoms

Women with ovarian hypofunction may develop symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. They also may have difficulty becoming pregnant.

Signs and tests
Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, is elevated in ovarian hypofunction.

Treatment

Women with ovarian hypofunction who want to become pregnant may be particularly concerned about their ability to conceive. Those younger than age 30 may undergo a chromosome analysis to check for abnormalities. Older women approaching menopause do not usually need this test.

Estrogen therapy is often successful in treating the menopausal symptoms caused by ovarian hypofunction, but it will not increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. Less than 10% of women with this condition will be able to conceive. The chance of successfully conceiving increases to 50% by implanting a fertilized donor egg (an egg from another woman).

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you are no longer having monthly periods, have symptoms of Early Menopause, or if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Levon Ter-Markosyan, D.M.D.

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