Causes & Treatment

What are the Primary Ovarian Insufficiency symptoms we should know? A doctor’s Q&A

Emma Harpham, in partnership with IVF Life Spain  |   13 Dec 2023


Primary Ovarian Insufficiency symptoms, causes and treatments, uncovered

Worried about Primary Ovarian Insufficiency symptoms

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, was once referred to as premature ovarian failure, although the latter term is no longer in use.

In this doctor’s Q&A, we’ll take a look at some of the ins and outs of this complex condition, and answer some of the most-Googled questions.

Watch as we lift the lid on what POI is, what the symptoms are, and how can you determine if you might be affected. Plus, we’ll unpack the key question: Can you still pursue pregnancy with POI?

For this one, we’re joined by Dr. Irene Aracil, Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist from IVF Life Spain. Their team are a global reference point in complex infertility cases, and attention is paid to every detail of a patient’s journey – from personal medical consultations, tailored genetic and immunology testing, precise diagnostics, and customized fertility treatments.

For a second opinion or initial chat, get in touch with their amazing team today.

What is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)?

Dr Aracil explains that primary ovarian insufficiency happens when the ovaries don’t make enough amounts of oestrogen, or release eggs regularly – it is rare, but the causes are still poorly understood.

“POI or Primary Ovarian Insufficiency is the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40 years, and it can affect between 1 and 4% of women, worldwide”

It could be related to autoimmune diseases, genetic causes, and also personal history of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or ovarian surgeries. However, most of the time the cause is unknown.”

What are the primary ovarian insufficiency symptoms, and how do I know if I have it?

Primary ovarian insufficiency symptoms are often mistaken for early menopause or low oestrogen levels. But, although they share characteristics, they’re not always the same thing, Dr Aracil explains.

“POI is characterized by a change in the menstrual cycle, so either a complete absence of menses or irregular periods.

To confirm the diagnosis, we run some hormonal blood tests. If the FSH concentrations are very high in the menopause range in two separate moments, at least one month apart, then we will be able to confirm the diagnosis.”

Can I still get pregnant with primary ovarian insufficiency?

Getting pregnant with POI is possible, especially if you’re continuing to have intermittent periods. But, in terms of treatments, being proactive is often a better approach, Dr Aracil explains.

“Yes, it is possible to get pregnant naturally, but pregnancy rates are low around 5 to 10%.

IVF treatment with donor eggs is the most effective treatment for women with POI, with pregnancy rates up to 90% after three or four embryo transfers.”

Got more questions about POI?

If you’re experiencing primary ovarian insufficiency symptoms, it can feel difficult and upsetting, especially if you’re trying to conceive (TTC).

Remember that knowledge is empowerment, and that, despite its challenges, many of us can find ways to build our families, with POI in the mix.

Connect with the team at IVF Life Spain to explore the possibilities and navigate this journey with support. Whether you’re looking to confirm your diagnosis, have an initial chat or start fertility treatment, their team are here for you – no matter where you’re at.

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