Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 55, Issue 8, pp 677–686 | Cite as

An update on primary ovarian insufficiency

  • Min Jin
  • YiQi Yu
  • HeFeng Huang
Open Access
Review Special Topic


Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) occurs in about 1% of female population under the age of 40, leading to reproductive problems, an earlier encounter with menopausal symptoms, and complicated diseases. There are three presumable mechanisms involved in the development of POI, namely apoptosis acceleration, follicular maturation blocking and premature follicle activation, through the following studied causes: (i) chromosomal abnormalities or gene mutations: mostly involve X chromosome, such as FMR1 premutation; more and more potentially causal genes have been screened recently; (ii) metabolic disorders such as classic galactosaemia and 17-OH deficiency; (iii) autoimmune mediated ovarian damage: observed alone or with some certain autoimmune disorders and syndromes; but the specificity and sensitivity of antibodies towards ovary are still questionable; (iv) iatrogenic: radiotherapy or chemotherapy used in cancer treatment, as well as pelvic surgery with potential threat to ovaries’ blood supply can directly damage ovarian function; (v) virus infection such as HIV and mumps; (vi) toxins and other environmental/lifestyle factors: cigarette smoking, toxins (e.g., 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide), and other environmental factors are associated with the development of POI. The etiology of a majority of POI cases is not identified, and is believed to be multifactorial. Strategies to POI include hormone replacement and infertility treatment. Assisted conception with donated oocytes has been proven to achieve pregnancy in POI women. Embryo cryopreservation, ovarian tissue cryopreservation and oocyte cryopreservation have been used to preserve ovarian reserve in women undergoing cancer treatments.


primary ovarian insufficiency genetic aberrations environmental factors hormone replacement therapy ovary preservation 


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© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s Hospital, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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