Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Premature ovarian failure on the rise

By Wu Hsin-tien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

There has been a surge of patients that exhibit signs or symptoms of premature ovarian failure in recent years, Taipei Medical University Hospital doctors said.

University Center for Reproductive Medicine and Sciences director Tseng Chi-jui (曾啟瑞) said he suspects the increase of between one and two patients in every 10 is due to an increased exposure to environmental persistent organic pollutants, such as dioxin.

Tseng said he recently treated a 27-year-old woman who had been trying to become pregnant for about three years.

Her ovarian functions had severely regressed, almost to the level of a middle-aged woman, he said.

Tseng said that the woman urged her younger sister to have an examination, as she was also unable to become pregnant.

The younger sister also exhibited signs of premature ovarian failure, Tseng said.

The older sister is now pregnant after receiving in vitro fertilization treatment, while the younger sister is still receiving treatment, he said.

Tseng said that as both women grew up in China, it could be their dietary habits that had caused the problem.

He said the menstrual cycle reflects a woman’s ovarian function, adding that less time between periods, as well as a lighter flow, can be an indication of fertility issues.

Tseng said ovarian failure is a natural part of aging and cannot be reversed, but women can adjust their lifestyles to slow the process by avoiding contact with pollutants and maintaining a healthy diet.

Tseng said that women should include antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins A, C and E in their daily diets, and avoid greasy food to avoid the early onset of ovarian failure.

Taichung Lee Women’s Hospital doctor Dean Lee Mao-sheng (李茂盛) said that at least 50 percent of premature ovarian failure cases can be attributed to innate bodily functions.

Lee said that at the time of birth, a woman on average has between 900,000 and 1 million eggs in her body.

Every few months several eggs mature, but only one is expelled while the others are eliminated, Lee said, adding that by the time a woman enters puberty and begins menstruating, she begins to go through her finite supply of eggs.

If a woman has less than the average number of eggs when she is born, then she will be diagnosed as having premature ovarian failure, Lee said, adding that other factors, such as immune-system diseases, hereditary problems, endometriosis or ovarian surgery, can also lead to premature ovarian failure.

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