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Ovarian hypofunction

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Premature ovarian failure

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ovarian hypofunction may be caused by genetic factors such as chromosome abnormalities, or it may occur with certain autoimmune disorders that disrupt normal ovarian function.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also cause ovarian hypofunction.

Symptoms

Women with ovarian hypofunction may develop symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Ovarian hypofunction may also cause difficulty becoming pregnant.

Signs 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 particularly concerned about their ability to conceive. Those younger than age 30 may undergo a chromosome analysis to check for problems. Older women approaching menopause do not usually need this test.

Treatment

Estrogen therapy is often successful in both treating the menopausal symptoms caused by ovarian hypofunction and preventing bone loss, but it will not increase a woman's chances of becoming pregnant. Less than 10% of women with ovarian hypofunction will be able to get pregnant.  The chance of successfully getting pregnancy increases to 50% when using a fertilized donor egg (an egg from another woman).

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

Complications

Calling your health care provider

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.

Prevention

References

Speroff L, Fritz MA. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology & Infertility, 7th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004.

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      Review Date: 6/26/2008

      Review By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine; Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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