Premature ovarian insufficiency: from pathogenesis to clinical management

J Endocrinol Invest. 2015 Jun;38(6):597-603. doi: 10.1007/s40618-014-0231-1. Epub 2015 Jan 18.


Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) represents a condition characterized by the absence of normal ovarian function due to an incipient (by 3-10 years) ovarian aging. In most of the women affected there are no signs or symptoms that precede the interruption of menstruation and the onset of POI and the majority of women have a normal history of menarche, regular menstrual cycles and normal fertility. The possible genetic role in the development of POI has been largely demonstrated and many genes have been involved; on the other hand, ovary is not protected immunologically and the detection of autoantibodies directed against various ovarian targets strongly support the hypothesis of an autoimmune etiology. In approximately 5-10% of women with a diagnosis of POI with a normal karyotype, a spontaneous pregnancy could occur even if the recovery of ovarian function is temporary and poorly predictable. Embryo donation and adoption are other alternatives that should be considered. POI and subsequent loss of reproductive capacity is a devastating condition and a difficult diagnosis for women to accept so it requires an individualized and a multidisciplinary approach. Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) should be commenced as soon as possible to prevent and to contrast the onset of the symptoms related to hypoestrogenism and to improve the quality of life for these women.

Keywords: Fertility preservation; Genetic disorders; Menopause; Ovarian reserve markers; Premature ovarian insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology*
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology
  • Infertility, Female / therapy
  • Ovary / physiopathology*
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / etiology*
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / therapy