Objective: To investigate the experiences of young women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure with regard to the initial presenting symptom, promptness of diagnosis, and patient education.
Methods: We asked 50 patients previously diagnosed with spontaneous premature ovarian failure to participate in a structured interview survey consisting of 38 true-or-false, multiple-choice, and open-ended questions.
Results: Disturbance in menstrual pattern was the most common initial symptom in the 48 women who completed the interview (44 of 48, 92%). Over half of the 44 women who presented with this complaint reported visiting a clinician's office three or more times before laboratory testing was performed to determine the diagnosis. Over half of them reported seeing three or more different clinicians before diagnosis. In 25% of women it took longer than 5 years for the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure to be established. Patients who spent more than 5 minutes with the clinician discussing the diagnosis were significantly more likely to be satisfied with the manner in which they were informed (P <.001). Ninety percent of participants were college graduates, and 40% had graduate degrees.
Conclusion: Women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure perceived a need for more aggressive evaluation of secondary amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea. Loss of menstrual regularity can be a sign of ovarian insufficiency, and the associated estrogen deficiency is a well-established risk factor for osteoporosis.