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Premature Ovarian Failure Diagnosis

Premature Ovarian Failure Diagnosis
Premature Ovarian Failure
Causes and Risk Factors

If you suspect that you are experiencing premature ovarian failure (POF), you can see your family doctor, general practitioner or gynecologist. If and when you decide to seek treatment for infertility, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in reproductive hormones and optimizing fertility called a reproductive endocrinologist. Medical specialists who diagnose and treat POF include:

  • General practitioner
  • Gynecologist
  • Reproductive endocrinologist

Medical history
Prepare for your doctor’s visit by preparing lists of important information, including detailed descriptions of all symptoms and when they began. It helps to track the irregularity of menstrual periods or lack of periods on a calendar. Also, list names and dosages of all medications you take, including non-prescription drugs, vitamins and supplements. To help make a diagnosis of premature ovarian failure, your doctor may ask about your signs and symptoms, your menstrual cycle, and a history of exposure to any toxins, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. During a medical history, your doctor may ask you several questions, including:

  • Are you experiencing hot flashes, vaginal dryness or other menopausal symptoms?
  • Do you have occasional menstrual periods or no periods at all?
  • Have you or any family members been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, systemic or autoimmune diseases, such as hypothyroidism or lupus?
  • Have you ever had ovarian surgery?
  • Have you undergone treatment for cancer?
  • How long have you experienced your symptoms?
  • How much distress do symptoms cause you?

Medical exams
In order to help diagnose POF, your doctors will likely suggest a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. Several blood tests are also important in making a diagnosis. However, it is important to note that POF diagnosis cannot be made solely based on one test result.  Blood tests measure the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to determine whether the ovaries are working properly or not.  Medical exams that your doctor may order to test for POF include:

Estrogen tests - Estrone, estradiol, and estriol levels are measured to monitor estrogen levels in your body over time. Your doctor may order an estrone or estradiol test if you manifest certain symptoms of POF. The blood levels of estradiol are usually low in women with premature ovarian failure. An estrone test is also helpful if you are on hormone replacement therapy to monitor treatment. Furthermore, estradiol measurements monitor follicle development during in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) test- FSH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of follicles in the ovaries. Women diagnosed with premature ovarian failure often have abnormally high levels of FSH in the blood. FSH may also be ordered to determine if a woman has reached menopause, or not.

Karyotype - This test examines all 46 chromosomes for abnormalities. Some women with premature ovarian failure may have only one X chromosome instead of two or may have other chromosomal defects.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) test - Doctors order LH test ordered as part of the workup of infertility and pituitary or gonadal disorders. Luteinizing hormone prompts a mature follicle within the ovary to release an egg. In women with premature ovarian failure, the level of LH is usually lower than the level of FSH.

Pregnancy test - Pregnancy tests are often performed on women of childbearing age who have missed a period to rule out the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy.

A diagnosis of premature ovarian failure can be difficult to cope with, especially if you would like to conceive a child. If you're feeling particularly depressed or anxious, consider seeking counselling with a mental health provider to help you sort through the emotional consequences of premature ovarian failure. Continue reading here for more information about other options for treating premature ovarian failure.

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Tags: premature ovarian failure, premature, In Vitro Fertilization, prescription drugs, radiation therapy, menstrual periods, menstrual cycle, vaginal dryness, hypothyroidism, Mental Health, prescription, Chemotherapy, chromosomal, Infertility, blood tests, medications, abnormally, radiation, Pregnancy, treatment
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