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Main symptoms of premature ovarian failure and what can cause it

By Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

Currently, women decide to delay childbearing for various reasons. It is increasingly common to see new mothers between the ages of 30 and 35, and even older, with healthy pregnancies thanks to today’s women care and lifestyle. However, general health does not counteract the natural loss of the number of eggs in the ovaries, which can occur even earlier than expected.

Today we will tell you the premature ovarian failure main symptoms, the causes for which it occurs and a brief description of the condition.

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What is premature ovarian failure?

Premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, or hypogonadism, is the early absence of menstruation, meaning, before the age of 40, for at least four months, which is accompanied by low levels of estrogens and elevated levels of follicle stimulating hormone (greater than 40 mU/l). In this condition, the ovarian follicles are depleted, there is an insufficient supply of follicles, or the oocytes are destroyed.

The incidence of premature ovarian failure is 1 in 100 women under 40 years of age, 1 in 1000 women under 30 years of age, and 1 in 10,000 women under 20 years of age.

Early menopause is often confused with premature ovarian failure, however, in early menopause the menstrual period stops before the age of 40 and women can no longer get pregnant. On the other hand, in FOP women may have occasional menstrual periods, so they may not be aware that something abnormal is happening in their ovaries. In about half of FOP cases, women retain intermittent and unpredictable ovarian function for a few years, and some even manage to get pregnant.


Premature ovarian failure causes

  • Genetic mutations.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Metabolic disorders.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Viral infections.
  • Exposure to toxins in the environment.
  • Life habits.
  • Iatrogenic causes such as having had surgery on the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or having received cancer treatments.


It is important to mention that these are possible causes of POF, since in approximately 90% of cases the cause of FOP is unknown.



 When an abnormality in ovarian function occurs, the first symptom will be the alteration of the menstrual period. Ovulatory dysfunction can cause an increase or decrease in estrogen, which translates into irregular menstrual periods or the complete absence of them before reaching the age of 40.

Other symptoms are very similar to those that occur during menstruation, such as increased sweating (especially at night), a feeling of flushing, irritability, vaginal dryness, pain during sexual intercourse, and a significant decrease in sexual desire. These are due to variations in estrogen, and can be accompanied by insomnia, irritability, mood swings, lack of concentration and even anxiety and depression.

Some women with FOP have eye disorders such as dry eye syndrome, ocular surface disease, which can cause blurred vision, discomfort, and permanent eye damage if left untreated.

Thyroid function disorders are also a common symptom in FOP, as the gland produces hormones that control metabolism and influence the body’s energy level. In this case, it is common to feel low energy, the feeling of mental slowness, general decay, feeling cold and insomnia.

Women with FOP often develop osteoporosis, a disease that usually begins after the age of 50, but when it is related to estrogen loss it appears earlier and causes brittle, weak and porous bones, which are more likely to fracture. Many women find out they have FOP because they have difficulty getting pregnant, as this condition can cause infertility.


Is there treatment for premature ovarian failure?

Current treatments focus on the symptoms and causes of POF in order to reduce health risks and the chance of developing other conditions.

Some treatments include hormone replacement therapy to get the hormones that are not produced by the ovaries and to prevent or reduce the risks that come with hormonal deficiencies, such as osteoporosis. For women who want to get pregnant and suffer from FOP can consider In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as it is a procedure with high success rates.

If you want to get pregnant and you still can’t do it despite having been trying for several months, we recommend you go to a fertility clinic to fulfill your dream of being a mother. At The Fertility Center we have the specialists you need and treatments like IVF in Mexico and the benefits of the cost of IVF in Tijuana. You can even become an egg donor in Mexico if you’re interested in it. Contact us through our form to schedule your assessment appointment. We will gladly assist you! Ask about our best services such as timed intercourse cycle.

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Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

Gynecology, Obstetrics and Biology of Human Reproduction Surgeon at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, specialist Biologist of Human Reproduction by the Mexican Institute of Infertility.

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