Treatment for premature ovarian failure (by Shelby D Burns)
Smiling Early menopause is being diagnosed more than ever and is a little-known contributor to infertility.
While the incidence of premature ovarian failure (POF) is rising, a new review in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG) says there is still hope for women wanting to have a baby and a long, healthy life.
POF affects one percent of all women and is characterized by a loss of ovary function before turning 40. The condition is linked to radiation and chemotherapy, so as successful treatments for cancer increase, so do the numbers for POF.
Unfortunately, this includes a lot of children, now successfully treated for childhood cancers but with a cost: their ability to have children.
For many the cause of POF is unknown. It is usually permanent but for some, the functionality of the ovaries may spontaneously return.
Fertility may be retained in as many as 10% of all women who have POF. Symptoms of the disease include irregular menstrual cycle, estrogen deficiency, night sweats and loss of libido – hence the moniker “early menopause”.
For young women, oocyte and embryo donation are a possibility. Some types of cryopreservation are also being explored including ovarian tissue as well as whole ovaries. “Women who are diagnosed with the condition need support as these women are often anxious and depressed.
However, recent scientific advances in assisted conception provide hope to women,” said Puneet Arora, Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Hope Hospital, Salford, and co-author of the review.
Women with POF are also vulnerable to osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and depression. Hormone replacement therapy can help as well as exercise, a calcium-rich diet, vitamin D supplementation and healthy lifestyle choices.