If your periods have stopped or have become very irregular for 3 months in a row, in order to work out the cause, your doctor will do blood tests to check your hormone levels, and a pelvic ultrasound to check your ovaries.
Besides those menstrual changes, if you are also experiencing the following symptoms, you might possibly be diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency:
You will be diagnosed with ‘premature ovarian insufficiency’ if you are under 40 years of age, have had two lots of blood tests at least 1 month apart showing very high FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels and very low oestradiol (oestrogen) levels. This means that your ovaries aren’t able to make enough oestrogen to produce follicles.
These follicles are small sacs that lie inside your ovaries. They support your eggs as they grow and mature. In POI, your follicles may either run out (depletion) or they might not work efficiently (dysfunction).
Besides being called Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, this condition is also often referred to as ‘Premature Ovarian Depletion’ (POD); ‘Premature Ovarian Failure’ (POF) and ‘Premature or Early Menopause’.
It is not always possible to identify the cause of this condition. In about 60% of women, a cause cannot be found. However, some identifiable causes may include:
With many women experiencing POI, difficulty getting pregnant is the reason they go to their doctor initially. Because POI causes lower levels of certain hormones, they are also at a greater risk for other health conditions besides infertility, such as heart disease, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression.
If you have been struggling with your fertility for a while, this kind of diagnosis would come as such a shock to you and your partner. Couples who come to me with this condition are distressed and worried that they may not be able to get pregnant.
As a fertility naturopath, I always assess my patients with POI and tailor a programme that’s specific to their individual needs.
Lifestyle modifications are essential.
There are some proven herbs and supplements that are known to help:
If you have been recently diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Deficiency, or are struggling with symptoms of early menopause, it would be my pleasure to support you with whatever your needs may be.
Joanne Lipinski – Fertility Naturopath Melbourne