Premature Ovarian Failure Treatment in Dothan, AL
Every woman has two ovaries which produce essential hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. When a woman's ovaries are functioning normally, the pituitary gland releases a precise amount of hormones during the menstrual cycle, triggering egg-containing follicles to begin maturing inside the ovaries. Usually, each month, only one follicle reaches maturity. Upon maturity, this follicle—a sac of fluid holding the egg—bursts, releasing the egg into the fallopian tube where it may be fertilized by sperm and result in pregnancy.
When one or more of the ovaries fails to produce a normal amount of these hormones—or when you have follicle depletion or dysfunction—the entire fertility cycle can be disrupted. If this happens, and there is no immediately identifiable cause, like a tumor, you may be diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency or premature ovarian failure (POF). POF refers to the end state of primary ovarian insufficiency. Primary ovarian insufficiency may begin during the teenage years and may exist for years before the condition is severe enough to be detected and diagnosed.
Once called early menopause, POF is different from menopause because the fertility cycle of egg production may continue intermittently and pregnancy is still possible at any stage of POF. Pregnancy in women with POF is possible, but not likely. Infertility is the most common and recognizable condition associated with POF, but other conditions like bone loss and heart disease can develop from long-term POF.
To schedule a consultation with a women's health specialist in Dothan that is an expert in premature ovarian failure treatment, call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Premature Ovarian Failure Symptoms
Although they are not the same, the symptoms of POF and menopause are almost identical and generally suggest a deficiency of estrogen. Premature ovarian failure symptoms generally include:
- Hot flashes
- Amenorrhea (irregular periods)
- Night sweats
- Abnormal vaginal dryness and lack of normal lubrication discharge during sexual activity
- Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Reduced sexual interest
- Mood swings or irritability
- Unexplained decrease in breast size or unusually small breasts (especially if breasts failed to develop normally during puberty)
Premature Ovarian Failure Causes and Risk Factors
Primary ovarian insufficiency exists in roughly one percent of women, and POF is the end point of this disease. In less than 15 percent of cases, POF has a genetic basis, but the origins of most POF cases are unknown, with no genetic cause identified. A family history of POF does increase your risk of developing it, whether the causes are genetic or not. Age is the highest risk factor, and the majority of women develop POF between the ages of 35 and 40. Additionally, certain health conditions can put you at a higher risk of developing POF, including:
- Depletion of ovarian follicle pool
- Ovarian dysgenesis (Turner syndrome)
- Breakdown of ovarian follicles or follicular atresia
- Growth arrest of ovarian follicles
These conditions can have a range of triggers, difficult to pinpoint, since they may have occurred decades before symptoms of POF appear. Possible causes for the development of follicular and ovarian dysfunction include:
- Serious illness, particularly involving infection
- Abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Environmental factors
- Certain disease syndromes, including autoimmune diseases
Premature Ovarian Failure Diagnosis
If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, a healthcare provider will likely test your hormone levels, including your levels of estrogen, prolactin and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). A pregnancy test will also be necessary to rule out early stages of pregnancy. In order to make an accurate premature ovarian failure diagnosis, patients must be too young for normal menopause (younger than 40), present with elevated plasma levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and have a history of at least six months of irregular periods. Your healthcare provider may also recommend genetic testing, like a karyotype test or FMR1 gene testing.
Premature Ovarian Failure Treatment
There is no cure for POF. However, diagnosis is essential as symptoms of POF may actually be caused by cancer or possibly pregnancy. Once POF has been determined to be the cause of your symptoms, there are important considerations.
Although infertility is higher in women with premature ovarian failure, pregnancy is possible and a fertility specialist can assist you in exploring options like in-vitro fertilization through the use of a donor egg.
If you have POF and do not want to get pregnant, options include using birth control measures or surgical measures to prevent pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider will likely be concerned about your risk for developing heart disease or osteoporosis due to estrogen deficiency. Bioidentical estrogen replacement therapy may be discussed to address this hormonal imbalance. Additional treatment specifically to prevent related conditions related to estrogen deficiency may be recommended, like supplementation with vitamin D, eating foods rich in calcium and strength training exercises to prevent osteoporosis.
A complete list of medical, dietary and supplement recommendations for POF and other conditions can be provided to you by your healthcare provider. Request more information about premature ovarian failure treatment today. Call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Alabama Functional Medicine
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