Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is also called early menopause. This term refers to a condition where the ovary stops ovulating earlier than is normal. The average age of menopause is 51. Women under 40 who permanently stop ovulating regularly are considered prematurely menopausal.


Women may experience the symptoms of menopause to varying degrees. Menstrual cycles may change in quantity, duration or regularity or may stop completely.


In many cases, the cause of POF is unknown. In the remaining cases, the cause may be one of the following:

  • Genetics (missing part of an X chromosome, extra X chromosome)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer treatments (radiation therapy or chemotherapy)
  • Surgery
  • Toxins (eg. chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and smoking)

Once a woman becomes menopausal and no longer ovulates, she cannot use her own eggs. However, in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs can be done using her partner’s sperm to produce embryos.

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