Experts have noticed a spike in the number of women in the age group 25-30 years suffering from premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) or premature ovarian failure (POF), “a common cause of infertility in women below 40”, they say. According to doctors, it is a condition when the ovaries stop functioning normally leading to reduced fertility or even or irregular menstrual cycle.
What is it?
“Women with POI cannot produce estrogen and progesterone hormones or release eggs, which can cause infertility. Some red flags are irregular or absence of menses, inability to become pregnant, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritation, and night sweats. Seven to eight out of 40 patients every week come with premature ovarian failure,” shared Dr Nisha Pansare, fertility consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Pune.
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Genetic disorders like fragile X syndrome, cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases are the causes behind this condition. Age, family history, and previous ovarian surgery are some other risk factors linked to this condition. “We have seen around 3-4 cases and the age group would be around 25 to 30 years. While we wouldn’t say the numbers have gone considerably up, but it is surely becoming a common issue in women,” said Dr Preethika Shetty, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharadi.
Woman’s history and certain blood hormone tests (follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH], estrogen, and antimüllerian (AMH levels) are taken into consideration to diagnose this condition. “Chromosomal analysis and Fragile X syndrome mutation (FMR1) should be done to check for genetic causes of this condition,” said Dr Shetty.
POI raises the risk of infertility in women. Low levels of estrogen can also lead to depression, stress, heart problems, and anxiety, added Dr Shetty.
Dr Pansare recommended visiting an expert if you have a missed period, thyroid problem, family history, or are undergoing cancer treatment. “Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) consisting of estrogen and progesterone is used to treat menopausal symptoms. Women who want to get pregnant and are unable to conceive due to infertility can go for donor eggs or IVF treatment. In the longer term, the loss of ovarian hormones, mainly estrogens invites osteoporosis. So, eat a well-balanced diet, take calcium and vitamin supplements and exercise daily to stay healthy,” she said.