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Management of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)
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Management of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)
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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 18, 2017.

INTRODUCTION — 46,XX primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is defined as the development of primary hypogonadism before the age of 40 years in women who have a normal karyotype. The presenting symptoms are similar to those of menopause. The condition was previously referred to as "premature menopause" and "premature ovarian failure." The age-specific incidence of spontaneous POI is approximately 1 in 250 by age 35 years and 1 in 100 by age 40 years [1]. In its fully developed form, it is associated with oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea, symptoms of estrogen deficiency, and gonadotropin levels in the menopausal range before age 40 years.

The management of women with spontaneous POI will be reviewed here. Turner syndrome (45,X0 or other Xp chromosome abnormalities) and autoimmune POI, as well as other aspects of spontaneous (46,XX) POI, are reviewed separately. (See "Management of Turner syndrome" and "Clinical features and diagnosis of autoimmune primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)" and "Pathogenesis and causes of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)".)

INFORMING THE PATIENT OF THE DIAGNOSIS — The most important steps after making the diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) are to inform the patient of the diagnosis in a sensitive and caring manner, provide accurate information, and offer referral to appropriate resources for emotional support. The most common words women use to describe their emotional state in the immediate hours after receiving the diagnosis are "devastated," "shocked," and "confused" [2].

Young women with POI are usually unprepared for the diagnosis, and the majority are unhappy with the manner in which they were informed [3]. In one study of 100 women with POI, 71 percent were dissatisfied with how they were informed of their diagnosis [2]. Specific areas of improvement suggested by women in the study included the need for clinicians to spend more time with the patient and provide more information about this condition.

It is best to schedule a return office visit to review the laboratory results when the diagnosis is suspected. Clinicians should inform patients that 50 to 75 percent of women with 46,XX spontaneous POI experience intermittent ovarian function and that 5 to 10 percent of women are able to become pregnant sometime after the diagnosis [4]. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Clinical features' and 'Fertility' below.)

When first diagnosed with POI, patients often initially feel an urgent need to act immediately to achieve a pregnancy. At this point, it is helpful to stress the importance of first addressing other aspects of POI that may have adverse effects on their long-term health, such as emotional health, autoimmune endocrinopathies, and osteoporosis. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Clinical features'.)

The diagnosis of POI brings with it the potential for development of related depression and anxiety disorders [2,5]. POI also has potential long-term sequelae, which are largely related to the associated endocrine deficiencies. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Consequences of estrogen deficiency' and 'Emotional health' below and 'Autoimmune endocrinopathies' below.)

APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT — There are many important issues to consider in the management of women with a diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), including estrogen-deficiency symptoms, emotional health, fertility, sexual function, bone health, cardiovascular health, and the risk for developing primary adrenal insufficiency (in women with autoimmune oophoritis). (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Consequences of estrogen deficiency'.)

Estrogen therapy — Unless there is an absolute contraindication to taking estrogen therapy, women with POI should receive estrogen therapy to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and urogenital atrophy and to maintain sexual health and quality of life. Our approach is consistent with The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee Opinion on hormone therapy in POI [6]. Although exogenous estrogen replacement is recommended, only limited data are available about the advantages or disadvantages of different hormone regimens or about estrogen's efficacy for cardiovascular disease prevention. (See "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy", section on 'Contraindications' and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality'.)

Choice of estrogen/progestin regimen — Theoretically, hormone replacement for young women with POI should mimic normal ovarian function as much as possible. Estradiol (17-beta-estradiol) and micronized progesterone are bioidentical hormones, eg, they have the same molecular structure as the estradiol and progesterone produced by the ovary (see "Preparations for menopausal hormone therapy"). Optimal replacement with sex steroids depends on whether the patient presents with primary or secondary amenorrhea.

Primary versus secondary amenorrhea

Primary amenorrhea – Girls or young women with primary amenorrhea in whom secondary sex characteristics have failed to develop should initially be given very low doses of estrogen (at first without a progestin) in an attempt to mimic gradual pubertal maturation. (See "Diagnosis and treatment of delayed puberty", section on 'Estrogen therapy'.)

Secondary amenorrhea – For women with secondary amenorrhea, we initiate full replacement doses of estrogen such as transdermal estradiol (100 mcg daily) or an estradiol vaginal ring (100 mcg daily) [7-9]. This dose is also roughly equivalent to 2 mg daily of oral micronized estradiol. This dose is higher than what is used for postmenopausal women and is based upon the average daily production of estradiol by the premenopausal ovary.

Route of estrogen — Transdermal or vaginal delivery of estrogen are more physiologic approaches; other potential advantages of these routes over oral estrogen, such as lower risks of venous thromboembolism and gallbladder disease, are reviewed separately [10,11]. The advantages related to vascular safety are more important in older, postmenopausal women (see "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy", section on 'Route'). For women who do not like or do not tolerate transdermal or vaginal estradiol, oral estradiol is perfectly acceptable. We do not suggest routine monitoring of serum estradiol levels [6]. We suggest starting with suggested dosing above and titrating doses to alleviate symptoms or using the lowest dose to preserve bone density in patients who experience side effects. (See "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy", section on 'Dose'.)

Choice of progestin — Women with POI are young, and therefore, most have an intact uterus and require a progestin to prevent estrogen-induced endometrial hyperplasia and carcinoma [12]. Our first-line progestin is micronized progesterone (MP) 200 mg per day for the first 12 days of the month. Other clinicians prefer oral medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) (10 mg daily for 12 days per calendar month) [9,13]. Both progestin regimens are effective for improving bone mineral density. For MPA, data come from one trial in women with POI [13] and trials in postmenopausal women, and for MP, there is indirect evidence from multiple trials in postmenopausal women. (See "Postmenopausal hormone therapy in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis".)

Of note, there are no data comparing the effects of the transdermal estradiol- MPA regimen described above with the many other hormone regimens on symptom relief, prevention of bone loss (and other diseases), quality of life, and/or sexual function. However, indirect evidence from trials in postmenopausal women suggest that there are a number of advantages to MP over MPA (no adverse effects on lipids or clotting factors), but this has not yet been studied in the POI population. (See "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy", section on 'Adding a progestin'.)

OCP as alternative option — An oral contraceptive pill (OCP) containing ethinyl estradiol and a progestin is an alternative option, which has the added advantage of providing contraception should spontaneous ovarian activity resume (see 'Contraception' below). Of note, however, one small trial suggested that lower-dose, physiologic hormone therapy may be more beneficial for bone mineral density than higher-dose estrogen (an oral estrogen-progestin contraceptive) [14].

Standard postmenopausal hormone therapy, which has a much lower dose of estrogen than combined estrogen-progestin contraceptives, does not provide effective contraception. Since spontaneous ovarian activity may resume, some form of contraception may be required if the patient is not seeking pregnancy. (See 'Contraception' below.)

When estradiol-progestin hormone therapy is prescribed rather than contraceptive pills, a cyclic regimen that will induce regular monthly menses allows easier recognition of the 5 to 10 percent potential for a spontaneous and unexpected pregnancy [4]. We encourage our patients to keep a menstrual calendar. If they miss a menstrual period, they should obtain a pregnancy test and stop the estrogen and progestin therapy if the test result is positive.

These spontaneous pregnancies progress entirely normally in most cases, and there appears to be no need for exogenous hormone supplementation during pregnancy.

Efficacy — There is abundant indirect evidence from postmenopausal women that hormone therapy would be effective for estrogen deficiency symptoms and bone health in women with POI. While observational data suggest that early natural menopause (prior to age 44, but not POI) is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease, data on the role of hormone therapy for cardiovascular health in women with POI are lacking. That said, we agree with ACOG that women with POI should receive estrogen therapy unless there is an absolute contraindication [6]. (See 'Estrogen therapy' above and "Treatment of menopausal symptoms with hormone therapy", section on 'Contraindications'.)

In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 studies (four trials and eight cohort studies) in 806 women with POI, evidence to support bone and cardiovascular benefits of hormone therapy was limited by very low-quality data (eg, the use of surrogate outcomes, and heterogeneity between studies in the estrogen dose, route and regimen) [15].

In addition to estrogen therapy for prevention of bone loss, other important measures for bone health should be emphasized, including exercise, a healthy diet, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, and avoiding smoking. (See "Overview of the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women".)

Duration of therapy — We agree with ACOG, which recommends systemic hormone therapy until age 50 to 51 years to all women with POI (without contraindications) to manage estrogen deficiency symptoms, prevent long-term health risks associated with POI (osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, overall mortality, cognitive decline, and dementia), improve quality of life, and maintain sexual function (some women may need vaginal estrogen in addition to systemic estrogen). They suggest hormonal contraception options for those in whom pregnancy prevention is a priority. (See 'Contraception' below.)

Most patients are aware of the association between estrogen deficiency and osteoporosis, but they are also concerned about the potential risks of cardiovascular complications and breast cancer with long-term estrogen therapy that have been reported in older postmenopausal women (the Women's Health Initiative) [16]. (See "Menopausal hormone therapy: Benefits and risks".)

It is important to stress to young women with POI that they differ from normally menopausal women in important ways with regard to the risk:benefit ratio of estradiol therapy. First, in the absence of estradiol replacement, they may be at greater risk for later coronary heart disease, overall mortality, cognitive decline, and dementia, presumably due to estradiol deficiency [17-22]. As an example, two studies suggest that women with POI have significant vascular endothelial dysfunction, which is restored to normal by estrogen therapy [18,20].

In addition, their baseline risks of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer are much lower than those for older, postmenopausal women, and therefore, the results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) are probably not clinically important until they reach approximately age 50 years, the average age at natural menopause.

The issue of postmenopausal hormone therapy after age 50 years is discussed in detail elsewhere. (See "Menopausal hormone therapy: Benefits and risks".)

Cancer survivors — Women with POI due to cytotoxic drugs or radiation therapy are often candidates for estradiol therapy. However, the decision to treat with estradiol depends upon the type of cancer (eg, estrogen is contraindicated in women with breast cancer, while estrogen is prescribed for women with Hodgkin lymphoma and ovarian insufficiency to preserve bone health and prevent cardiovascular disease). Like women with other causes of POI, the current approach is to continue estradiol until approximately age 50 years, the average age at natural menopause.

Sexual function — Most women who are taking a full replacement dose of physiologic estradiol score within the normal range on a validated measure of sexual function. Only 7 percent score below the second percentile on a composite sexual function score [23]. As a group, however, compared with controls, women with 46,XX spontaneous POI score adversely with regard to sexual function [23,24]. (See "Sexual dysfunction in women: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation".)

Emotional health — The diagnosis of POI is emotionally traumatic for most women because it disrupts their life plans, hopes, and dreams with regard to raising a family. Women with POI may develop related depression and anxiety disorders.

As with any life-altering diagnosis, women with POI benefit from encouragement and support that helps them to regain a sense of control and confidence. The first step is to encourage a woman with POI and her partner, when they are ready, to express their emotions about the diagnosis and validate those feelings. A simple and effective entrée into this discussion is: "Many patients with POI tell us that this is a very difficult diagnosis to accept emotionally" [5,25]. It is worth pointing out that coming to grips with emotions about this diagnosis is a gradual process and that the patient needs to give herself time and permission to work through these issues. Feelings of intense grief and loss for the biologic children they expected to have are normal for couples whose life plans included building a family. Discussions about the normal grieving process, the strains that the diagnosis might bring to their relationship, and the importance of open communication are also helpful.

Some young women mistakenly interpret the diagnosis of POI as an indication that they have become a menopausal woman who is "growing old overnight" [25]. Symptoms of estrogen deficiency such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness can be interpreted as signs of premature aging. It is important to clarify that this is not the case.

For women who experience significant anxiety and/or depression related to the diagnosis, we suggest seeing a therapist with expertise in POI. In some cases, ongoing individual or group counseling is helpful [25].

Role of androgen replacement — We suggest against the routine use of androgen therapy in women with POI. Although women with POI may have some degree of androgen deficiency when compared with young women without ovarian insufficiency, testosterone therapy has not been shown to be beneficial, and it is associated with important side effects.

In several studies of women with POI, serum ovarian androgen concentrations (androstenedione and/or testosterone) were lower than age-matched women without ovarian insufficiency, but similar to those seen in older postmenopausal women [26-28]. In contrast, levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), an adrenal androgen, were normal (although they would be expected to be low in women with coexisting primary adrenal insufficiency).

The clinical consequences of this decrease in ovarian androgens and the possible role of androgen therapy in women with POI have not been extensively studied. However, available data suggest that testosterone therapy is not beneficial. In one trial, 128 women with 46,XX POI on estrogen-progestin therapy were randomly assigned to 12 months of transdermal testosterone (150 mcg patch) or placebo [29]. In spite of a significant increase in mean serum total testosterone concentrations in the testosterone group compared with placebo (50 ng/dL and 18 ng/dL at 12 months, respectively), there were no differences in quality of life, self-esteem, or mood symptoms between the two groups. In a second study, the addition of testosterone to three years of estradiol-progestin therapy did not provide added benefit in bone mineral density [13].

Potential side effects of androgen replacement include hirsutism and acne, and with oral preparations (eg, dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA]), dyslipidemia. We therefore suggest not using androgen replacement therapy in this population. However, in women with autoimmune ovarian failure and coexisting adrenal insufficiency, adrenal androgen therapy with DHEA may be beneficial. A more detailed discussion of androgen production and therapy in women is found elsewhere. (See "Overview of androgen deficiency and therapy in women".)

Autoimmune endocrinopathies — Young women with spontaneous POI are at increased risk for developing other autoimmune endocrinopathies including autoimmune adrenal insufficiency, a potentially fatal disorder [30]. If proper screening with adrenal autoantibodies is performed, approximately 3 percent of women with spontaneous POI will be found to have asymptomatic autoimmune adrenal insufficiency [31]. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Test for adrenal autoantibodies'.)

Women with positive adrenal autoantibodies – Even if their adrenal function is found to be normal at initial evaluation, women with positive adrenal antibodies should be followed annually by these tests. The author of this topic does an annual 8 AM serum cortisol. If <15 mcg/L, a corticotropin (ACTH) stimulation test is necessary.

Women with negative adrenal autoantibodies – There are no data to inform initial adrenal function assessment and follow-up for patients with negative tests for adrenal autoimmunity. If adrenal autoantibodies are not present in a woman with POI, a reasonable strategy is to test baseline adrenal function at the time of diagnosis and if normal and repeat the test only if clinical symptoms develop that suggest adrenal insufficiency (ie, increased skin pigmentation, excessive fatigue, orthostatic hypotension, etc). (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Test for adrenal autoantibodies'.)

Young women with spontaneous POI are at increased risk for developing autoimmune hypothyroidism and should therefore have a yearly serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) measurement [32]. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Other autoimmune evaluation'.)

Reproductive issues

Contraception — Women with POI should be informed that estradiol/progestin replacement therapy does not provide effective contraception. Since spontaneous ovarian activity may resume, some form of contraception may be required. Women who are concerned about the possibility of spontaneous ovulation and pregnancy can choose either hormonal contraception or a barrier method of contraception [9,33,34] (see 'OCP as alternative option' above). Although there is no direct evidence for contraceptive efficacy in women with POI, there is indirect evidence of efficacy in perimenopausal women, another population with high serum gonadotropins and low fecundity [35]. In addition, ACOG suggests combined estrogen-progestin contraceptives for women with POI for whom pregnancy prevention is a priority [6]. Another option for them would be lower, noncontraceptive doses of estradiol (to treat estrogen deficiency symptoms and prevent bone and cardiovascular issues) combined with a levonorgestrel intrauterine contraceptive device.

Other contraceptive options are reviewed separately. (See "Contraceptive counseling and selection".)

Fertility — Approximately 75 percent of women with 46,XX spontaneous POI have potentially functional follicles remaining in the ovary. Histologic and endocrinologic evidence supports a conclusion that inappropriate follicle luteinization is the most common pathophysiologic mechanism that prevents ovulation and pregnancy in these women [36,37]. (See 'Spontaneous ovulation' below.)

Although some women conceive without treatment, pregnancy rates are very low [3,38]. Other options include in vitro fertilization (IVF) with oocyte donation, embryo donation, and adoption (see "Oocyte donation for assisted reproduction"). Some women do undergo ovulation induction with clomiphene citrate and/or exogenous gonadotropins, but we suggest against this approach as neither has been shown to be effective. Adding medication does not improve pregnancy rates. (See 'Effect of estrogen therapy' below and 'Gonadotropin therapy' below.)

Women will often ask about the possibility of oocyte cryopreservation at the time of impending or diagnosed POI. Oocyte cryopreservation may be indicated in women with known genetic risk for POI before ovarian function declines (FMR1 premutations, Turner mosaic, known autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 2), but it is less likely to be useful at the time of the POI diagnosis based on the paucity of oocytes left in the ovary [39].

Spontaneous ovulation — In ultrasound studies of women with POI, follicular development occurs frequently, with evidence of follicle luteinization in many cases. Ovulation is infrequent, with approximately a 4 percent chance per month [36,40]. Small studies suggest frequent monitoring (every two to four weeks) for spontaneous follicle growth by ultrasound may provide an opportunity for a spontaneous conception [40]. Such an approach may also help provide closure should there be no ovarian activity documented in a three- to six-month timeframe. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)", section on 'Clinical features'.)

Effect of estrogen therapy — It has been thought that exogenous estrogen might have a beneficial effect on ovulation and fertility, based upon the observation that some reports of pregnancy in POI have occurred in women taking estrogen [41,42].

The use of transdermal or transvaginal estradiol replacement has been suggested to improve follicle function [43]. However, in one report, exogenous administration of physiologic doses of estrogen did not appear to improve the spontaneous ovulation rate. This was illustrated in a trial of 37 women with POI randomly assigned to receive oral estradiol (2 mg/day) or no therapy for six weeks in a 12-week, crossover design [40]. No effect of oral estradiol replacement was seen on mean ovarian volume, the number or size of new follicles, or ovulatory rates.

Gonadotropin therapy — Exogenous gonadotropin therapy has been studied as a potential strategy to improve ovulatory rates in women with POI, but it is ineffective [4,44,45]. Exogenous gonadotropins could theoretically exacerbate unrecognized autoimmune ovarian failure [46].

An antiestrogenic agent such as clomiphene citrate has not been studied in this population, but it is unlikely to be effective in women who are hypoestrogenic. (See "Ovulation induction with clomiphene citrate", section on 'Patient selection'.)

Combined with estrogen — Suppression of endogenous gonadotropin concentrations with pharmacologic doses of estrogen prior to gonadotropin therapy has been reported to improve ovulatory rates in some [47,48], but not all [44], studies. In the one randomized, placebo-controlled trial available, treatment with 150 mcg ethinyl estradiol/day for two weeks before and during stimulation with recombinant follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), ovulatory rates were significantly higher in the estrogen group (32 percent, 8 of 25 women) when compared with the placebo group (0 of 25 ovulated) [48]. Ovulation only occurred in women whose serum FSH concentrations were suppressed to ≤15 international units/L with estrogen. It is possible the improved ovulation rates in this study were related to suppression of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels and avoidance of inappropriate follicle luteinization [43].

With GnRH agonist — Suppression of endogenous gonadotropin concentrations with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist prior to gonadotropin therapy does not appear to improve ovulatory rates [44,49,50].

Glucocorticoid therapy — Glucocorticoid therapy for treatment of suspected autoimmune ovarian failure, also unproven, carries the risk of iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome and osteonecrosis of the hip requiring joint replacement [51]. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of autoimmune primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)".)

Oocyte donation — Women with POI due to any cause are potential candidates for IVF with donor oocytes. In one report of 61 women with POI undergoing 90 treatment cycles, the cumulative chance of pregnancy after three cycles was approximately 90 percent [52]. Success rates for this procedure depend primarily on the age of the oocyte donor. Women with Turner syndrome require careful cardiovascular evaluation before being considered for this therapy, as deaths from aortic dissection have been reported during pregnancy. (See "Oocyte donation for assisted reproduction" and "Management of Turner syndrome", section on 'Management of fertility and pregnancy'.)

Women with spontaneous POI who become pregnant by oocyte donation may have an increased risk of delivering infants who are small for gestational age and of having pregnancy-induced hypertension and postpartum hemorrhage [53-55], but these findings are controversial [56]. (See "Oocyte donation for assisted reproduction".)

SOCIETY GUIDELINE LINKS — Links to society and government-sponsored guidelines from selected countries and regions around the world are provided separately. (See "Society guideline links: Primary ovarian insufficiency".)

INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS — UpToDate offers two types of patient education materials, "The Basics" and "Beyond the Basics." The Basics patient education pieces are written in plain language, at the 5th to 6th grade reading level, and they answer the four or five key questions a patient might have about a given condition. These articles are best for patients who want a general overview and who prefer short, easy-to-read materials. Beyond the Basics patient education pieces are longer, more sophisticated, and more detailed. These articles are written at the 10th to 12th grade reading level and are best for patients who want in-depth information and are comfortable with some medical jargon.

Here are the patient education articles that are relevant to this topic. We encourage you to print or e-mail these topics to your patients. (You can also locate patient education articles on a variety of subjects by searching on "patient info" and the keyword(s) of interest.)

Basics topics (see "Patient education: Early menopause (primary ovarian insufficiency) (The Basics)")

Beyond the Basics topics (see "Patient education: Early menopause (primary ovarian insufficiency) (Beyond the Basics)")

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The management of women with spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) begins with informing the patient of the diagnosis in a sensitive and caring manner, providing accurate information about the diagnosis, and referring women with the condition to appropriate resources for emotional support. Young women with this disorder are unprepared for the diagnosis, and unfortunately, most are dissatisfied with the manner in which their health care providers delivered the information. (See 'Informing the patient of the diagnosis' above and 'Emotional health' above.)

Unless there is an absolute contraindication to taking estrogen therapy, we suggest estradiol for women with POI to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and urogenital atrophy and to maintain sexual health and quality of life (Grade 1B). A progestin needs to be added for those with an intact uterus. (See 'Estrogen therapy' above and 'Choice of progestin' above.)

Estrogen-progestin contraception is an alternative way to provide estrogen for women in whom pregnancy prevention is a priority. (See 'Choice of estrogen/progestin regimen' above.)

We suggest that premenopausal hormone therapy be continued until approximately age 50 to 51 years, the average age of natural menopause (Grade 2B). (See 'Estrogen therapy' above.)

We suggest not using androgen replacement therapy in women with spontaneous POI who have normal adrenal function (Grade 2B). (See 'Role of androgen replacement' above.)

For the anovulatory infertility associated with POI, we suggest not using ovulation induction drugs such as clomiphene citrate and gonadotropin therapy, as they have no proven benefit (Grade 2C). In patients who are comfortable with pursuing assisted reproductive technologies (ART), in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor oocytes or donor embryos, given the high success rates, may be an option. (See 'Fertility' above.)

Women with positive adrenal antibodies but normal adrenal function at the initial evaluation (corticotropin [ACTH] stimulation test) should be retested annually. The author of this topic performs an annual 8 AM serum cortisol. If serum cortisol is <15 mcg/L, an ACTH stimulation test should be performed. If adrenal autoantibodies are not present in a woman with POI, a reasonable strategy is to test baseline adrenal function at the time of diagnosis and if normal, repeat the test only if clinical symptoms develop that suggest adrenal insufficiency (ie, increased skin pigmentation, excessive fatigue, orthostatic hypotension, etc). (See 'Autoimmune endocrinopathies' above.)

Young women with spontaneous POI are at increased risk for developing autoimmune hypothyroidism and should therefore have a yearly serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) measured. (See 'Autoimmune endocrinopathies' above.)

The management of women with Turner syndrome (45,X0) is reviewed separately. (See "Management of Turner syndrome".)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS — The editorial staff at UpToDate would like to acknowledge Lawrence M Nelson, MD, and Karim Calis, PharmD, MPH, FASHP, FCCP, who contributed to an earlier version of this topic review.

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