Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a condition that affects the functioning of the ovaries, resulting in a decrease in estrogen levels and an irregular or absent menstrual cycle in women under the age of 40 although it can happen at any age. While POI can have various causes, including genetic disorders and autoimmune conditions, its exact mechanisms are still not fully understood.
Causes and signs or symptoms:
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Nisha Pansare, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility in Pune, shared, “Environmental factors such as exposure to certain chemicals or toxins contribute to POI. The most noticeable consequence of early ovarian aging is a decrease in the quantity and quality of eggs available for fertilisation. This decline in egg quality not only makes it more difficult for women to conceive naturally but also increases the risk of infertility and pregnancy complications if conception does occur. Understanding and recognising the signs of early ovarian ageing is crucial for women who wish to have children in the future, as there are potential treatments and proactive measures that can be taken to preserve fertility health. Studies have shown that chronic stress can disrupt normal hormonal patterns in women, potentially leading to early ovarian dysfunction.”
She revealed, “POI is typically indicated by irregular or absent menstrual cycles. Certain individuals with primary ovarian insufficiency may not experience any noticeable symptoms. Additional symptoms may include irregular or absent menstrual cycles, infertility issues, reduced libido, difficulty focusing, irritability, dry eyes, hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, and painful intercourse caused by vaginal dryness.”
Talking about the impact of POI on the body, Dr Nisha Pansare said, “Primary ovarian insufficiency leads to reduced estrogen levels. This hormonal decline can result in symptoms akin to menopause, including hot flashes, decreased libido, and mood swings. Additionally, it heightens the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, and various other ailments. Infertility is a common consequence of primary ovarian insufficiency; nevertheless, medical interventions such as donor eggs, IVF (in vitro fertilization), and fertility medications can potentially assist in achieving pregnancy.”
Dr Nisha Pansare, Fer suggested, “Hormonal therapy can help patients with POI. A well-balanced diet can significantly improve hormone levels and overall health in women with POI. Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseeds, can help regulate hormonal imbalances. Additionally, consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants can support reproductive function by protecting against oxidative stress. Chronic stress can negatively impact hormone levels and exacerbate the symptoms of POI. Learning effective stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and Yoga or engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation can be beneficial.”
She added, “Prioritising self-care is essential for managing this condition effectively. Dealing with a diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency can be emotionally challenging. It is crucial to connect with others who understand what you are going through, whether it is through a support group. Sharing experiences, feelings, and concerns with others who have also faced similar challenges ensures emotional validation and provides practical advice on navigating life with POI.”
She concluded, “By being aware of early ovarian aging and its impact on fertility health, women can take proactive steps toward preserving their reproductive capabilities. Regular check-ups may help identify potential issues at an earlier stage. Lifestyle factors such as smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and proper nutrition and stress management techniques like Yoga or meditation can help promote overall reproductive health.”