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Premature Menopause

UPMC Content 2

Premature menopause — also known as premature ovarian failure (POF) — occurs when ovarian function stops in women under age 40.

Women experiencing POF have a very slim chance of conceiving with their own eggs.

Causes of POF

In most women, it's unclear why they experience ovarian failure. Some causes include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Radiation and chemotherapy for treating cancer

About 4 percent of women with POF have a family history of the condition.

Symptoms of POF

You may have infrequent periods or stop having periods altogether, and experience symptoms of menopause, such as:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irritability
  • Vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels

In some women, the only symptom may be an inability to conceive.

Treating POF

Hormonal treatments can be used for the symptoms associated with premature menopause and for long-term prevention of:

In younger women who do not smoke and are not at increased risk for blood clots, the birth control pill is often the treatment of choice.