Health Risks of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)

As women with POI have lower levels of certain hormones, several health problems are more common than in women without POI, including:

  • Infertility: Women suffering from POI, generally unable to get pregnant naturally. They may carry a pregnancy but, in most cases, adonor eggsare required.
  • Heart disease: Low estrogen level early in life can affect the muscles lining the arteries and can increase the formation of cholesterol in the arteries. These factors can increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which increases the risk of heart attacks further.
  • Anxiety and depression: Hormonal changes caused by POI can result to anxiety or lead to depression. Many women with POI may feel sadness about their unexpected loss of ovarian function. Women with POI should discusses their feelings with their family members, medical provider and may need to discuss with a qualified therapist.
  • Dry eye syndrome and eye surface disease: Some women with POI can have one of these eye diseases. Both diseases can cause discomfort and may lead to blurred vision. These conditions can cause permanent eye damage, if not treated seriously.
  • Osteoporosis: The hormone estrogen required to keep bones strong. Women with POI often develop osteoporosis without enough estrogen. It is a bone disease that increase the risk of weak bone, brittle bones or bone loss and fractures.
  • Low thyroid function: This health problem also is known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that control body’s metabolism and energy level. Low levels thyroid hormones can affect your metabolism and can result in very low energy, mental flatness and other similar symptoms.

How is POI diagnosed?

if you are younger than 40 and have irregular periods or stopped having irregular ones, immediately consult with your doctor to find the root causes of the ongoing problem. To diagnose POI, your health care provider may perform:

  • A medical history: Your health care provider may ask whether you have relatives with POI or other health conditions such as an autoimmune disease, endocrine problems or a neurological condition.
  • A pregnancy test: A test can be done to make sure that you are not pregnant.
  • A physical examination: To look for signs of other disorders which could be causing your symptoms.
  • A pelvic ultrasound: An ultrasound may be used to check whether or not the ovaries are enlarged or have multiple follicles.
  • Blood tests: A blood test has been done to check for certain hormone levels. With this test your health care provider (HCP) can find out if your ovaries are working properly or not and to check the level of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) in your blood. This blood test can be repeated before the diagnosis can be made.High levels of FSH usually indicate presence of POI. Other hormones including an “AMH” (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) can be evaluated and genetic tests may be done to check if there is a medical reason for the Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). Other blood test can be done to do a chromosome analysis. A chromosome is the part of a cell that contains genetic information.

Some specific tests should also be performed to check for autoimmune conditions or possible genetic that might be related to the ovarian insufficiency.