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Ovarian hypofunction

Ovarian hypofunction is reduced function of the ovaries (including decreased production of hormones).

Alternative Names

Premature ovarian failure; Ovarian insufficiency

Causes

Ovarian hypofunction may be caused by genetic factors such as chromosome abnormalities. It may also occur with certain autoimmune disorders that disrupt the normal function of the ovaries.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also cause ovarian hypofunction.

Symptoms

Women with ovarian hypofunction may develop symptoms of menopause, which include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Mood swings
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness

Ovarian hypofunction may also make it hard for a woman to become pregnant.

Exams and Tests

A blood test will be done to check your level of follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH . FSH levels are higher than normal in women with ovarian hypofunction.

Other blood tests may be done to look for autoimmune disorders or thyroid disease.

Women with ovarian hypofunction who want to become pregnant may be concerned about their ability to conceive. Those younger than age 30 may have a chromosome analysis to check for problems. Older women who are close to menopause do not usually need this test.

Treatment

Estrogen therapy often helps relieve menopausal symptoms and prevents bone loss. However, it will not increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Fewer than 1 in 10 women with ovarian hypofunction will be able to get pregnant. The chance of getting pregnant increases to 50% when you use a fertilized donor egg (an egg from another woman).

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you are no longer having monthly periods, have symptoms of early menopause, or if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant.

References

Bulun SE. The physiology and pathology of the female reproductive axis. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 17.

Lobo RA. Menopause and care of the mature woman: endocrinology,consequences of estrogen deficiency, effects of hormone replacement therapy, and treatment regimens. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA,Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 14.

Updated: 6/13/2014

Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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