Hello. This will be a lecture entitled Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. This is a cause of secondary
amenorrhea. Let's jump right in. Primary ovarian insufficiency is sometimes referred to as
hypergonadotropic hypogonadism. This is not menopause. This occurs when a woman has oligo or
amenorrhea for 4 months or she has laboratory findings consistent with the disease. That typically
means that you'll have 2 FSHs greater than 30 obtained at least 1 month apart. Now let's look
oocytes which means her reserve is decreased. Let's talk about the epidemiology of primary
ovarian insufficiency. It affects about 1% of women in the US; however, this is hard to really
identify as some patients may be on oral contraceptive pills which may mask symptoms.
Incidence is increasing due
to the increasing rates
of premenopausal cancer survivors.
The specific risk factor
is tested on the USMLE
POI for short has varying and unpredictable levels of ovarian function and this occurs in about half of
women who actually make the diagnosis. 5 to 10% of women conceive and actually deliver after
the diagnosis. 90% of patients though have no clear etiology making this a very difficult and
frustrating diagnosis for patients. Let's now talk about making the diagnosis in patients. One
study found that patients had to see more than 3 different clinicians before the diagnosis was
actually made. This can be very frustrating for a patient so you should think about this syndrome
when a woman has oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea. When you have a patient that you suspect has
ovarian insufficiency, remember it's important to always take a thorough history and do a physical
exam. First you want to question her about her normal puberty and establish that she at one
point had regular menses. If she didn't, this will be called primary amenorrhea. This occurs in
10% of cases. If you'd like to know more about primary amenorrhea, there is a separate lecture
about that. If a patient has an abrupt stop of menses, this is consistent with ovarian insufficiency.
You can have a common prodrome of oligomenorrhea, polymenorrhea, or AUB. If you'd like to learn
more about AUB, please refer to that lecture. You also find on physical exam these patients
have estrogen deficiency. They may complain of hot flushes which are actually called hot flashes
which are vasomotor symptoms. They may also complain of night sweats. They may say something
such as "I sweat through my pajamas every night." They may appear sleepy or somnolent usually
because they have some type of sleep disturbance due to their vasomotor symptoms. These patients
can also have dyspareunia which is related to vaginal dryness in the setting of low estrogen.
Sometimes you may find a positive family history during your history taking. 10 to 15% of women
have an affected first degree relative. There are some other associated conditions that you may
find on history. They may have other autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism or adrenal
insufficiency or hypoparathyroidism. They may complain of dry eye syndrome, they may carry a
diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. Let's now review a case. "I had
a 27-year-old woman come to my office and she had Tanner stage III breast and pubic hair development.
Wait a second. Tanner III and she's grown? Hmm. She was started on oral contraceptive pills
as a teenager because she only had a few episodes of spotting. This time she was coming to the
office because she wanted to become pregnant and was experiencing infertility. Her FSH level
or follicle stimulating hormone was found to be markedly elevated and her estrogen levels were
in the menopausal range or very low. What's your differential diagnosis? I'll let you think about
that. Are you ready to go on? How would you counsel and how would you treat this patient? Well
this patient likely has primary ovarian insufficiency. She can potentially have other causes such
as gonadal dysgenesis with mosaicism as we talked about in another lecture entitled Turner
Syndrome. What would you do for this patient? You would attain a karyotype with FMR1 premutation
evaluation as well. This patient would require hormone replacement therapy because recall her
gonads or her ovaries are not producing estrogen which is bone protective. Once you've made
the diagnosis of ovarian insufficiency, this patient will require a baseline DEXA scan. Let's now
discuss the physical exam that we might see in a patient who presents with primary ovarian
insufficiency. Recall that these patients have other autoimmune processes which can help you
or assist you in the diagnosis. You sometimes may see hypopigmentation or vitiligo. Sometimes
you can also see hyperpigmentation as would occur with potentially adrenal insufficiency. The
thyroid may be enlarged so it's important to palpate the thyroid and ask the patient if she has
noticed any differences. Sometimes bringing in old photos of the neck prior in life can actually
help you determine if the thyroid has enlarged. There are some certain stigmata associated with
Turner syndrome such as short stature, webbed neck, and a high-arched palate that may suggest
that the cause may be Turner syndrome. Let's now talk about the laboratory evaluation. In these
patients, you should obtain a serum prolactin just to rule out hyperprolactinemia. You should
also obtain a cycle day #3 FSH or follicle stimulating hormone with an estradiol. If they are not
having a menses, you won't know when cycle day #3 is so you may have to do this just spontaneously
and an AMH in conjunction with that will help to determine if the FSH and estradiol are truly accurate.
for POI or primary ovarian insufficiency.
In addition to TSH, recommended testing includes
free T4, antithyroid peroxidase antibodies,
anti 21 hydroxylase antibodies
and anti adrenal cortex antibodies.
You can also get a TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. This will help to tell you if she
has hypothyroidism which is an autoimmune disease that can go along with ovarian insufficiency.
If you make the diagnosis, these patients also require anti-adrenal antibodies as these antibodies
are very important and may suggest that in the future she may have adrenal crises which can be life
threatening. Let's now talk about counseling. This may not be actually question on your USMLE
but it's important to note that many women described feeling emotionally devastated after a
diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency. Essentially, most of these patients think they will
never be able to become a mother which is not quite true but it is definitely more complicated.
Therefore, as a provider, we have to schedule sufficient time to go over the medical and emotional
impact of such a diagnosis. Okay, now let's talk about when it's time to refer these patients to
a subspecialist. You may be a family medicine doctor or a pediatrician or OB/GYN. It's important
to do some evaluation before these patients are referred. A karyotype is helpful in determining
whether this patient may be a Turner Mosaic. A fragile X premutation screen is also helpful as
this can be a cause of primary ovarian insufficiency. Adrenal antibodies are also helpful to the
clinician that will see this patient as that can tell of an impending adrenal crisis. A pelvic ultrasound
is also helpful as we can see if there are any follicles on the ovaries. A baseline DEXA will also
be helpful to tell us if there is abnormal bone mineral density as you can sometimes see with
osteopenia. This information is high yield and you will likely be tested about one of these evaluations.
In terms of the etiology, most cases will have 46,XX karyotype. Unfortunately, 90% of these cases
will not have a clear etiology identified and this is problematic and distressing for many patients.
About 4% will have steroidogenic cell autoimmunity and this is a reason they don't make estrogen.
About 14% of patients with familial POI will have a premutation to the FMR1 gene as opposed
to 2% of women who have isolated POI. Let's now briefly review some of the syndromes that are
associated with 46,XX POI. The most important here that I want to bring your attention to is
fragile X associated disorders, the gene being FMR1. These patients usually have a family history
of intellectual disability usually in males and some of their older relatives may be diagnosed
with Parkinsonian-type syndromes that cause tremor and ataxia disorder. It's important to note
that FMR1 is frequently tested on exams. Here you can see there are other diagnosis that can
lead to 46,XX POI. Please download this at your convenience to review them. If you'd like more
information, you can check out the genes on OMIM, which is a free database that will go over
the presentation and genetics of each disease.