National Institutes of Health issue guide to primary ovarian insufficiency diagnosis and treatment

2/6/2009

WASHINGTON The National Institutes of Health on Wednesday issued a comprehensive plan to help health care professionals diagnose and treat primary ovarian insufficiency — a menopause-like condition affecting girls and young women that may occur years before normal menopause is expected.

In primary ovarian insufficiency, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing estrogen and other reproductive hormones. The sudden cessation of ovarian function results in a condition similar to that of normal menopause: loss of menstrual periods, infertility, hot flashes and night sweats, sleep loss and increased risk for bone fracture and heart disease. The sudden and unexpected loss of fertility frequently results in feelings of grief, anxiety and depression.

Treatment consists of hormones to replace those no longer produced by the ovaries and counseling to help women cope with the grief, anxiety, and depression that may result from the diagnosis and the loss of fertility.

"The early indicators of primary ovarian insufficiency are subtle and the condition can be difficult to diagnose," stated Duane Alexander, director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The recommendations were published in the Clinical Practice feature of the Feb. 5 New England Journal of Medicine.

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