Premature ovarian failure (POF) or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) describes persistently elevated (menopausal) levels of follicle stimulating hormone occurring, accompanying no period for one year, prior to age 40.
There are many causes of POF and a full evaluation is warranted. Some causes include genetic conditions such as Turner’s Syndrome or Fragile X premutation, autoimmune, environmental exposure (radiation or chemotherapy), and familial predisposition. A thorough evaluation by a Reproductive Endocrinologist is very important when this diagnosis is considered.
In many circumstance, women with POF/POI will pursue IVF using donor eggs. When a donor's eggs are used, the IVF cycle success rates equal that of the donor's age group. For example, if the eggs from a 22-year-old female are used in an IVF cycle with the resultant embryos being placed in a 40-year-old woman; success rates equal the 22-year-old group and are typically high. In fact, as long as a woman's uterus is intact and healthy and she has no major health problems, pregnancies can be produced at almost any age. Most programs have a maximum patient age beyond which they will not conduct donor egg cycles, ours is age 51.