Premature ovarian failure

S. N. Kalantaridou, S. R. Davis, L. M. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)


In 1% of women, premature ovarian failure develops by 40 years of age, a condition causing amenorrhea, infertility, sex steroid deficiency, and elevated gonadotropins. Early loss of ovarian function has significant psychosocial sequelae and major health implications. These young women have a nearly two-fold age-specific increase in mortality rate. Among women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure who have a normal karyotype, half have ovarian follicles remaining in the ovary that function intermittently. Indeed, pregnancies have occurred after the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure. Thus, premature ovarian failure should not be considered as a premature menopause. Young women with this disorder have a 5% to 10% chance for spontaneous pregnancy. Attempts at ovulation induction using various regimens fail to induce ovulation rates greater than those seen in untreated patients; however, oocyte donation for women desiring fertility is an option. Young women with premature ovarian failure need a thorough assessment, sex steroid replacement, and long-term surveillance to monitor therapy. Estrogen- progestin replacement therapy should be instituted as soon as the diagnosis is made. Androgen replacement should also be considered for women with low libido, persistent fatigue, and poor well-being despite taking adequate estrogen replacement. Women with premature ovarian failure should be followed up for the presence of associated autoimmune endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and diabetes mellitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1006
Number of pages18
JournalEndocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

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