Meeting the needs of young women with secondary amenorrhea and spontaneous premature ovarian failure

Obstet Gynecol. 2002 May;99(5 Pt 1):720-5. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(02)01962-2.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Amenorrhea / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Oligomenorrhea / etiology*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / complications
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors