Premature ovarian failure – a relevant topic for a growing number of young women
Premature ovarian failure (POF) is a condition characterized by reduced ovarian function. The ovaries produce mature oocytes less frequently than normal (every month). It is called “premature”, because women affected by this condition are under 40 years of age. It is important to know that although difficult, it is possible to conceive with POF.
In a large number of cases, the causes for the condition are unclear. The main culprits include autoimmune disorders, genetic predispositions, surgical intervention of the ovaries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Among the autoimmune disorders the most common cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis are also considered possible causes.
There’s a difference between “premature ovarian failure” and “premature menopause”. Premature menopause means a complete cessation of ovulation. In POF ovulation does occurs albeit much less frequently. However, it should also be noted that the quality of the ovulated oocytes is reduced.
The treating obstetrician-gynecologist will examine you and will refer you for hormonal tests. These include: estradiol, follicle-stimulating (FSH) and luteinizing (LH) hormone. The Anti-Müller Hormone test provides information on the ovarian reserve. The values of these hormones are instrumental for the correct diagnosis.
Depending on the precise diagnosis your obstetrician-gynecologist will lay out the possible solutions.
If you are going to be treated for an oncological condition, we encourage you to cryopreserve your oocytes before the treatment begins. According to the latest update in the statute book of the Center for Assisted Reproduction (CAR), the state will subsidize the cryopreservation of reproductive cells of cancer patients. This will significantly improve the chances of those patients for starting a family after receiving treatment. Cryopreserved oocytes can be stored for years and their quality still corresponds to your age at the time of freezing. In other words they are better quality, not only because they were not subjected to the toxic effect of the cancer therapy but also because of their younger biological age.
If the treating physician considers it suitable, an IVF procedure with own oocytes is one option. You have to bear in mind, however, that both the number and the quality of the oocytes are going to be reduced.
Doing an IVF procedure with donor eggs is another option. You can use eggs from an anonymous donor or a relative (sister or cousin). New Life Medical Center has a donor egg program. We work with one of the largest donor egg banks in Europe in order to offer you, our patients, more opportunities to make your dream come true.
If you want to plan starting your family, it is a good idea to check your ovarian reserve first. Anti-mullerian hormone is considered the most objective indicator of ovarian reserve. It can be tested at any clinical laboratory, regardless of the day of the menstrual cycle.