What happens during POI?
Premature ovarian insufficiency can develop as early as the teenage years. Some women may still experience the occasional release of an egg. These women may still have intermittent periods leading up to menopause. Others with POI lose the function of the ovaries altogether. Women with POI will experience symptoms similar to menopause like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, vaginal dryness, and a reduced sex drive. The cause of POI is unknown, but there is a genetic factor. Research has also linked thyroid conditions, chemotherapy, Fragile X syndrome, and Turner syndrome to POI.
What are the risks of POI?
Premature ovarian insufficiency carries similar risks as menopause. The chances of developing osteoporosis are quite high. With osteoporosis, the bones become brittle and fragile, increasing the risk of fractures. There is also an increased risk of heart disease, eye diseases, thyroid issues, and depression. Treatment in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can relieve symptoms but cannot help with egg supply.
What about getting pregnant?
Unfortunately, POI will lead to infertility. About 5% of women with POI may occasionally ovulate and can actually get pregnant. However, the chances are low. For women with a depleted ovarian reserve, getting pregnant without assistance may not be possible. Even with pregnancy, there is the possibility of passing the condition on to the child. Luckily some family planning options are available.
Turning to IVF
In vitro fertilization is the process of extracting egg and sperm, creating an embryo, and implanting the embryo or blastocyst culture in the uterus. The doctor will need to perform tests to determine if there is a supply of eggs available for IVF. From there, medication can help with ovulation so the fertility clinic can harvest the eggs. From there, the IVF process can resume.
IVF with donor eggs
Unfortunately, most women with POI have a fully depleted ovarian reserve. Therefore the only option is IVF with a donor egg. Most fertility clinics have a donor egg program that can guide women and couples to find the best option. Once the right egg is chosen, the embryologist can help create the embryo for implantation. IVF is the best option for pregnancy. However, the process continues to show great results.
All is not lost
For women hoping to get pregnant without success, finding out about POI can be devastating. However, all is not lost. Let a skilled medical professional help and provide treatment. IVF or IVF with donor eggs may be the best option. For more information, speak with a fertility specialist.