What Is Primary Ovarian Insufficiency? – Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What Is Primary Ovarian Insufficiency? – Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Getting irregular periods? Losing interest in sex? Struggling to get pregnant? You could be experiencing Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). 

Let us understand what POI is, its causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.  

What Is Primary Ovarian Insufficiency?

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), or Premature Ovarian Failure, is a condition where the ovaries cease to function while you still in your 30s. 

In the POI condition, your ovaries neither make enough estrogen hormones nor release the eggs regularly, thus, resulting in irregular periods. This condition may also lead to infertility in women. 

Even though irregular periods are a common symptom, do not mistake POI with Menopause or Premature Menopause. While women may experience irregular periods and reduce fertility during the transition phase of menopause, in premature menopause, periods stop completely, and women cannot become pregnant.  

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, around 5-10% of women with POI, can become pregnant even if they did not undergo fertility treatment. However, researchers do not know the reason for it yet.  

What are the symptoms of POI?

The early symptoms of POI are abnormal periods. Afterwards, the symptoms match the symptoms of natural menopause, such as: 

  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Pain during sex
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritation 

What Are the Causes of POI?

 Even though the exact reason for POI or primary ovarian failure is not known, many factors can lead to this condition. Here is a list of some of the causes of POI: 

  • Follicles do not function properly or are less in number. Follicles are little sacs that are present in the ovaries in which the eggs grow and mature. When these follicles stop working, it may lead to POI.
  • Women undergoing chemo or radiotherapy are at a high risk of ovarian failure. 
  • Risk of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is a disease when your immune system produces antibodies that damage the egg and follicles in your ovaries. 
  • Certain genetic disorders where one of the two X chromosomes is altered or missing or the X chromosomes are weak. 

The risk factor of POI increases, if your family history of this condition or if you have had undergone any ovarian surgery.  

What Are the Treatments Available for POI?

Till date, there is no treatment available to restore the normal function of the ovaries. Nevertheless, the treatment for POI involves treating the symptoms such as:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: A regular treatment in which hormones, such as estrogen are provided to the body to improve the condition. In POI, ovaries stop making these hormones that are required for regular periods, healthy sexual life, and pregnancy.
  • Invitro Fertilization: A treatment through which you can become pregnant in case you have POI.
  • Medications: Your doctor may suggest certain medications to reduce the associated conditions and symptoms of POI. 
  • Supplements: Your doctor would suggest calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Healthy Weight & Physical Activity: You need to work out regularly and be physically fit to control weight gain and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and coronary disease.

Do not be deterred by the primary ovarian failure or POI condition. Consult your doctor at the earliest if you miss your periods for 3 months in a row. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, and avoid tobacco and alcohol for good health. Be strong and speak with your partner openly for emotional support. POI is not the end. Just will it, and live a good, happy, and complete life! Get the best treatment available and get your sexual life back on track. Who knows you could be one of that 5-10 % to get pregnant!!