Premature or primary ovarian failure (POF or Premature Ovarian Insufficiency – POI) – better known as “early menopause” – affects 1% of women under 40 years of age. What are the causes of this phenomenon? Is there a cure to delay or inhibit its symptoms, which are synonymous with infertility? And the most important: is there a chance of pregnancy in the prime of these women’s lives?
When menopause comes prematurely
Menopause usually occurs around the age of 50. However, it takes place much earlier in some young women who want to have children. Sometimes early menopause can be the result of ovarian removal, chemotherapy or radiation, among other things. Other causes may include birth defects such as Turner syndrome, certain autoimmune diseases such as insulin-dependent diabetes and heredity. Finally, endocrine factors appear to be able to affect the human reproductive system and are likely to disrupt our hormonal system, causing premature menopause. This phenomenon presents more or less the same symptoms as natural menopause: irregular or absent periods, more or fewer periods than usual, hot flushes… To compensate for the hormonal imbalance, to guard against the risks of osteoporosis and to control hot flashes, hormonal treatment is usually prescribed. In the form of a contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy, this medical protocol aims to stabilize the level of estrogen.
Early menopause and pregnancy
When women are facing the news of early menopause, the psychological consequences can be very difficult if they want to have a child. There are, however, treatments that increase the possibility of pregnancy in such cases. If the menopause is artificial (e.g., after chemotherapy or radiotherapy), it is possible to take the eggs before the operation and freeze them. This technique is called egg vitrification. It is also possible to use an egg donor, which will be fertilized from the sperm of the husband or another donor with IVF. The eggs will then be implanted in the uterus of the post-menopausal patient, who is being prepared for pregnancy through hormonal stimulation that reproduces the menstrual cycle.
52: the new age limit in Greece
At Medimall IVF Clinic we offer egg donation, which is permitted by law. The donors must be anonymous and offer their eggs voluntarily, for altruistic reasons. According to the law, donors must be between 18 and 35 years old and are selected with strict medical criteria after specialized tests. Due to the circumstances caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the age limit for egg recipients was increased from 50 to 52 years old, from the moment of the embryo transfer, until the 31st of December 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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