Ovarian Insufficiency   

Primary ovarian insufficiency, known also as premature ovarian failure or simply ovarian insufficiency, occurs when the ovaries stop working normally in women younger than 40. The ovaries are small female reproductive organs that release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone hormones. A woman with ovarian insufficiency has ovaries that produce fewer eggs, release eggs abnormally or don’t create enough hormones.  

Ovarian Insufficiency Causes  

The exact cause of ovarian insufficiency is unknown for most women, although some cases can be linked to:  

  • Eating disorders 

  • Thyroid diseases  

  • Genetic conditions such as Turner syndrome and Fragile X syndrome  

  • Autoimmune diseases  

  • Infections that affect the ovaries  

  • Ovarian surgery   

  • A low number of follicles 

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment  

  • Exposure to chemicals from pesticides and cigarette smoke   

Women who are older than 35 or who have a family history of ovarian insufficiency are considered to have an increased risk of this condition. If left untreated, ovarian insufficiency may progress to cause complications such as osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and dry eye syndrome.  

Ovarian Insufficiency Symptoms 

Some women with ovarian insufficiency don’t go through any noticeable changes, while others may experience:   

  • Irregular or missed periods  

  • Difficulty getting pregnant  

  • Low sex drive   

  • Night sweats and hot flashes  

  • Irritability   

  • Vaginal dryness   

  • Decreased concentration

The symptoms of ovarian sufficiency are often confused for premature menopause. These symptoms may occur frequently or come and go, depending on each woman’s case.  

Ovarian Insufficiency Diagnosis  

Many women discover they have ovarian insufficiency after seeking care for irregular periods or infertility. Diagnosing this condition usually involves: 

  • A physical exam 
  • Review of personal and family medical history and  
  • A blood test to measure hormone levels 

Some physicians may also recommend a pelvic ultrasound to view images of the ovaries and follicles.  

Ovarian Insufficiency Treatments  

Treating ovarian insufficiency is one of our specialties at Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute. We tailor our treatment services to the specific needs and goals of our patients—for example, women who want to have children may benefit from in vitro fertilization (IVF), while hormone replacement therapy can help women find relief from disruptive symptoms. Healthy lifestyle choices such as losing excess weight and staying active can also help patients feel better and reduce their risk of complications.