Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
Thursday, 15 October, 2020

Premature Ovarian Insufficiency

Author: Susie Perrie Debice

October is Menopause Awareness Month and many countries across the world have been busy shining a spotlight on the symptoms and risk factors associated with this condition. Food Scientist and Nutritionist Susie Debice reviews information about Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), the focus for World Menopause Day 2020. 

Each October we get involved with Menopause Awareness Month and this year there we’ve seen a hive of activity on various media platforms hosting talks, podcasts and presentations with a wide range of medical, nutrition, mindfulness and wellness experts sharing their views and experiences about all things menopausal.

The International Menopause Society

This incredible event is organised by the International Menopause Society also known as the IMS, a charitable organisation based in the UK, that brings together the world’s leading experts to collaboratively study and share knowledge about all aspects of the menopause. The IMS advocates evidence-based treatment options that optimise mid-life women’s health and promotes best practice in women’s health care to women across the globe. The purpose of this annual event is to raise awareness of the menopause so that women can be encourage to talk more freely about their symptoms and discover what support options are available for improving their health and wellbeing as they go through this hormonal transition.

World Menopause Day - Premature Ovarian Insufficiency

World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18th October. This year the theme for World Menopause Day 2020 was Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) which occurs when a woman's ovaries start to shut down before the age of 40, initiating an early menopause. Whereas most women begin the menopause after the age of 50, a small percentage may experience an early onset menopause around the age of 45 years. However, it’s now estimated that POI occurs in approximately 3.7% of women but may differ between countries.

A recent global prevalence study of POI and early menopause revealed that PIO occurs in 1/1000 women under the age of 30 and 1/10,000 under the age of 20. The mechanisms as to why the ovaries shut down from such an early age remains unknown in approximately 70–90% of diagnosed cases making this a rather mysterious condition.

Supporting your future health

Suspected contributory factors include genetic abnormalities, autoimmune conditions, underlying infectious, metabolic irregularities, the presence of toxins and chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Although it’s hard to predict or prevent PIO, what’s important is the realisation that this condition has far reaching impacts on mental, physical and emotional quality of life. All the risk factors that come with post-menopausal health in terms of bone health, preserving cognitive function, risks for heart disease and raised cholesterol are all very real and begin the moment the ovaries shut down.

A diet for hormone balance and weight management

Nutrition factors that support healthy weight management including a low sugar diet and swapping refined carbs for complex carbs is especially important for cardiovascular health. Increasing omega 3 fats from oily fish or supplementing with krill oil is also helpful for weight management, metabolism, hormone health and cognitive function.

Avoid a sedentary lifestyle

Being inactive is now considered to be as potentially damaging for long-term health as smoking in terms of weight management and cardiovascular health. If you do have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day and then sit on front of the TV in the evenings, then it’s time to take your activity levels to another level. Start by aiming to achieve the recommended activity levels of 5000 to 10000 steps a day to help support general health and wellbeing.

Where to go for more information on POI

For more information you can download a POI information leaflet - available in all European languages from IMS (International Menopause Society).

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