Premature Ovarian Failure

What is POF?

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), also known as Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), is a loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. POF can affect women at various ages from teenage years to thirties. Women with POF are at a greater risk of a range of health issues, including osteoporosis, estrogen deficiency (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc.) and heart diseases. These POF-related issues can usually be managed well with hormonal replacement. However, in an infertility context, POF poses a challenge, as the loss of ovarian function means that the probability of pregnancy with their own eggs is greatly reduced.

What is Premature Ovarian Failure?

Dr. Vitaly Kushnir discusses the possibility of getting pregnant with premature ovarian failure.

Although it is sometimes called early menopause, POF is different from menopause in that POF is not a result of natural (normal) aging process of a woman. In addition, women with POF may continue to have menstrual cycles, though their cycles are irregular. A small percentage of women with POF can conceive naturally, while menopausal women will never get pregnant.

What Causes POF?

There are several known causes for premature ovarian failure, amongst them genetic conditions that affect the X chromosome, such as Turner Syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. AutoimmunityAutoimmunity (immunity against oneself) has also been implicated in POF. In addition, surgical loss of excessive ovarian tissue (for example, after surgery for endometriomas, also called "chocolate cysts") can put the patient into early menopause. Chemotherapy and radiation can also wipe out the follicle pool and cause premature ovarian failure.

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The diagnosis of premature ovarian failure is made based on a blood test for follicle-stimulating...

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Even in the best of hands, getting pregnant with POF is a rare event, and most women with POF...

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Last Updated: November 15, 2014

Additional Resources

Further Evidence for the Inadequacy of PGS – News from the ... This article is a part of the November 2015 issue of CHR VOICE, our monthly newsletter. An oral presentation by


Dr. Gleicher Emphasizes the Importance of Early POA Screening In an article on, Dr. Gleicher discussed the science behind diagnosing and treating premature ovarian aging. Dr. Gleicher emphas...

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1/3 of women who have been told they need egg donation actually wind up conceiving at the CHR with their own eggs.