Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) in One of My Patients

Recently, I saw a 42 year old lady in my surgery with symptoms of anxiety and palpitations. I have known her for many years but the last time I had seen her was four years ago. She was diagnosed as having Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) when she was 36 years of age after her periods stopped.

I noticed on the computer that one of the other doctors in the surgery had stopped her HRT a year previously. She had been told that she could only take HRT for five years so it needed to be stopped. Since that time her symptoms of anxiety and palpitations had started. She had also become much more tired than normal and was finding her job as a policewoman increasingly difficult due to this fatigue.

She had none of the “classical” symptoms of the menopause such as night sweats or hot flushes (this can be quite typical for women with POI). She was worried as she thought she had an increased risk of breast cancer with HRT so she was relieved to no longer be taking it.

What this lady did not realise is that she actually has no increased risk of breast cancer with taking HRT as she is under 51 years of age. This is because the average age of the menopause in the UK is 51 years so taking HRT under this age is simply replacing oestrogen her body should otherwise be making.

My patient was delighted to be informed of this and felt really reassured that she had no increased risk of breast cancer with taking HRT. Since her HRT has been restarted she feels wonderful, all her anxiety has gone and she has far more energy.

Many women have POI without a diagnosis ever having been made and so it is really important that if you have irregular periods or your periods have stopped then you talk to your doctor about having a blood test for this condition.

Without treatment you could really be putting yourself at risk of future illnesses which can otherwise be avoided by taking hormones.

Last updated: February 2018

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