Severe Menopause Symptoms Linked With Premature Ovarian Insufficiency

January 22, 2021
Aislinn Antrim, Assistant Editor

Health care providers should be more cognizant of psychological complications and sexual dysfunction risks in women with premature ovarian insufficiency and should work with patients to identify options for relief.

A new study has found that menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness, may be worse for women who have premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) than for women undergoing natural menopause.

POI is the cessation of ovarian function leading to menopause before 40 years of age. It is associated with increased risks for several long-term health comorbidities, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, and sexual dysfunction. It can also shorten life expectancy, according to a press release.

Although there has been research around the risk factors associated with POI, the authors of the new study said there has been less research on the effect of POI relative to the prevalence, severity, and factors affecting menopause symptoms. Their research involved nearly 300 women in China, and the team specifically investigated menopause symptoms in women with POI and compared them with similar symptoms in women without POI.

They found that women with POI experience a high prevalence of menopause symptoms, especially psychological and sexual symptoms. Furthermore, these symptoms are often more severe than those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause. The symptoms most likely to be severe were mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction, including vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, and decreased libido.

“It is important to note that regardless of the prevalence of severity of symptoms, women with POI should receive hormone therapy at least until the average age of menopause unless there are contraindications to its use in order to mitigate potential long-term adverse health effects, including fractures, heart disease, cognitive impairment, and early mortality—in addition to mood disturbances and sexual dysfunction,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, director of the North American Menopause Society, in a press release.

Based on these findings, the study authors said health care providers should be more cognizant of psychological complications and sexual dysfunction risks in women with POI and should work with patients to identify options for relief.

REFERENCE

Severe Menopause Symptoms Often Accompany Premature Ovarian Insufficiency [news release]. North American Menopause Society; January 20, 2021. https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/press-release/severe-menopause-symptoms-in-women-with-poi-1-20-21.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2021.