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Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): Condition Information

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What is POI?

Health care providers use the term POI when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40 years of age.1,2

Many women naturally experience reduced fertility when they are around 40 years old. This age may mark the start of irregular menstrual periods that signal the onset of menopause. For women with POI, irregular periods and reduced fertility occur before the age of 40, sometimes as early as the teenage years.3,4

In the past, POI used to be called “premature menopause” or “premature ovarian failure,” but those terms do not accurately describe what happens in a woman with POI. A woman who has gone through menopause will never have another normal period and cannot get pregnant. A woman with POI may still have periods, even though they might not come regularly, and she may still get pregnant.2,4


  1. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2009). Premature ovarian failure: ACOG medical student teaching module [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved January 3, 2012, from http://classic.acog.org/acog_districts/dist_notice.cfm?recno=17&bulletin=2720 External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. (2011). Premature ovarian failure. Retrieved January 4, 2012, from www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prematureovarianfailure.html [top]
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Primary ovarian insufficiency in the adolescent External Web Site Policy : Committee opinion no. 502. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 118, 741–745. [top]
  4. Nelson, L. M. (2009). Primary ovarian insufficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 360, 606–614 .[top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 04/12/2013
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