Early Menopasue: It is Not What Physicians Thought. New Perspective on Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

The normal age of menopause is 40, menopause before 40 has been called premature, or premature ovarian failure (POF). The understand physicians have had previously was that the ovaries have a set number of eggs, and when a woman’s eggs are all used up then we go into menopause. We have a preset number of eggs (genetically), we can lose eggs when we have disease of the ovaries or surgery of the ovary, and those things can cause individual cases of premature menopause. But something was discovered to be off in the thinking of most cases of POF. As far back as 1996 we discovered that even if the whole picture appears to be premature menopause, in research settings when the patients underwent ovarian biopsies they were actually found to still have eggs and follicles left. So something else must be occurring, and the newest thought is that these women just go into a phase where their eggs won’t respond at all. In some women it’s that their pituitary FSH no longer works to wake up any eggs, in others it apparently was a type of self induced (auto-immune) inflammation. Networks of white cells called lymphocytes would invade the ovary and this is perhaps why the eggs wouldn’t respond.

 
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