When a woman’s period gets out of whack she may just blame the irregularities on stress and let the problem pass, when really it could be much more. Doctors often prescribe birth control to restore periods to a schedule before really checking the woman to see what the root of the problem is. Both blaming irregularities on stress and curing them with birth control is a bad approach to the issue.
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is an interference with reproductive hormones that plagues 1 in 100 women over 40 years old. POI has been known to increase the chance of infertility and can diminish healthy bones. Normally POI is undiagnosed for years before the symptoms are evident enough, but by then damage is already done.
Many women find the menstrual cycle as more of a bother than it should be. Actually menstrual cycles are a sign showing that the ovaries and endocrine system are functioning properly. Women may think “My periods are coming so everything is fine,” when in reality their ovaries aren’t supplying the hormones needed and birth control is merely masking the problems.
Maureen from New Jersey had this exact experience. After she was married, she went off the pill and began to try to start a family. When she didn’t get pregnant the doctor took a couple of blood tests and discovered that in her body, things were going wrong. The news was that she was post menopausal, though she was only 35.
The diagnosis was thankfully off. POI is often called “premature menopause” but the name isn’t actually as final as it seems. Menopause is a permanent thing where menstruation and ovulation both end. POI can come and go. It can temporarily stop the ovaries but it sometimes starts up again. Between 5 and 10 percent of women with POI are able to become pregnant and have successful births. Maureen did notice that her hormones did seem out of whack when she looked back on the past few years. She had experienced irregular periods and hot flashes. She saw her doctor and he immediately gave her a birth control prescription.
Instead of this immediate reaction doctors should be more evaluative of menstruation alterations. If you do not menstruate for 90 days, or if you have a cycle shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days you should be checked out by a doctor for other conditions. Just a simple blood test can find if you have POI.
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