The natural cycle of female reproduction begins with roughly two million primordial follicles where eggs to grow and mature. Typically, these follicles last until women reach menopause around age 50. However, women with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) have problems with their follicles and the tiny seeds that eventually turn into eggs. The ovaries stop functioning before the age of 40, causing irregular infertility. In the past, POI was known as premature ovarian failure and premature menopause, but these are inaccurate descriptions that mean the woman can no longer get pregnant and will cease having menses. POI is different: the woman may have irregular periods, but she can still get pregnant and give birth to a child. In the United States, about one percent of all women have primary ovarian insufficiency.
Many cases of primary ovarian insufficiency (almost 90 percent) are unique. The cause may be due to other conditions, genetic disorders, or viral infections. POI develops because of follicle depletion, which means the woman runs out of healthy follicles to grow the eggs until maturity. Follicle dysfunction may also cause primary ovarian insufficiency. Sometimes physical trauma can negatively impact the ovaries and follicles and render them insufficient for healthy reproduction.
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