Lately you have been troubled, as you are considering the possibility that you might be suffering from premature ovarian failure (POF). Although you are in your early 30’s and are healthy in most respects, you have suddenly been suffering from a bevy of conditions that are only supposed to afflict old women, as your periods have gone off kilter over the past few months, you’ve soaked your bedsheets in sweat at night, and you’ve been irritated and angry at things that never used to bother you… until recently.
While there are other disorders that cause these symptoms (and some of them are truly dire conditions, so please don’t try to diagnose yourself using this article), it is very likely that there is something amiss with the function of your ovaries, as there is one common hormone that they produce that is behind many of the following signs.
Read through the list of symptoms below, and if you tick at least one of these, get yourself to a doctor for a proper diagnosis. This is so you can confirm that you aren’t suffering from a dangerous disease, and that if you are experiencing premature ovarian failure, you can begin treatments to extend your fertility to the greatest extent possible.
1) Menstrual periods become irregular – or halt altogether
Like clockwork, your period has come month in and month out, ever since your teenage years. Yet, despite being in thirties, which is supposed to be your child bearing prime, the monthly flow of fluid and tissue has started to go missing.
This occurrence is one of the first signs of premature ovarian failure, as it means that you are beginning to run out of follicles that aren’t damaged by a variety of reproductive disorders, which can include PCOS (1).
2) You start getting hot flashes
You’re going about your day minding your business and then all of a sudden, you feel a massive onset on heat in your face and chest, lasting several minutes before it departed as quickly as it came. If this happens to you well before your 40th birthday, this could be a sign of premature ovarian failure, as hot flashes are instigated by a lack of estrogen in your body.
Since your ovaries are responsible for the production of this hormone in your body, the deterioration in the function of these organs brings about a sudden drop in your estrogen levels. It is theorized that estrogen plays a key role in regulating temperature in the body, with the sudden lack of it throwing the hypothalamus into disarray (2).
If you are suddenly getting bursts of heat within your core when you are nowhere close to the age where menopause begins to set in, you should see a doctor to see if you have POF.
3) You wake up at night drenched in sweat
Another thing that you have been noticing lately is that you have been waking up at around 3 or 4 am with your 600 thread count sheets being soaked in your own sweat. If this is consistent without your suspicions surrounding premature ovarian syndrome, then this occurrence is simply a hot flash that has occurred while you were sleeping, thus causing you to perspire profusely onto the fourth set of linens you’ve put on your bed this week (grrr!).
The main reason why we didn’t append this symptom to the previous point is due to the fact that this symptom is shared with a variety of diseases and disorders that are far scarier than POF. Think tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, diabetes, and much more (3).
Because of this, if you begin getting these incidents on a regular basis, go to a doctor for a clear explanation of these occurrences as soon as possible, as attempting to self-diagnose yourself is far too dangerous on this point.
4) You start drying up down there – and your appetite for sex begins to wane
As if the above symptoms weren’t bad enough, you have been finding that you have been turning down your partner’s sexual advances, as you just haven’t been in the mood lately. Conscious of this, you have been giving in to them lately, only to stop him abruptly shortly thereafter, as what was a pleasurable romp just months earlier has now been replaced by extreme pain.
Upon further investigation, it turns out that your vagina is now incredibly dry, making penetration virtually impossible. When premature ovarian failure begins to set in, estrogen levels fall off a cliff, causing the natural lubrication that is produced by the hormone to dry up just as quickly, thus making vaginal sex a chore instead of the pleasure it was meant to be (4).
As far as the female libido is concerned, the premature failure of the ovaries reduces the production of testosterone in addition to estrogen, both of which are responsible for the physiological desire to engage in sexual relations, making POF a very real explanation for this problem as well (5).
5) You start getting irritated at little things, and you have problems concentrating
You used to be known for being a laid back gal, practically unflappable in spite of what life might throw in your direction. Over the past few months though, you have blown up at interns underneath you for making a common rookie mistake at work, you’ve flipped out at traffic, banging the steering wheel when you used to chill and just sing along to pop music, and just yesterday, you chewed out your spouse for making an innocent comment about your green bean casserole being a little bit overcooked.
What in the world is going on, you wonder? “This isn’t me!”, you think to yourself in a state of bewilderment and tears, shocked at your irritability when you used to go with the flow so readily. What’s more, you’ve had to ask your boss to repeat a simple concept three times just the other day, and your productivity has been in the tank in the past few weeks.
While you should get checked out by your physician you make sure that it isn’t something that is potentially life threatening, it is possible that your ovaries might be starting to fail prematurely. The drop in estrogen levels that this occurrence produces is so shocking to your system that it is easy to understand why you have not been doing well emotionally lately, or that you been having problems concentrating (6).