What are the risks for POI?

Several factors can affect a woman's risk for POI:

  • Family history. Women who have a mother or sister with POI are more likely to have the disorder.3
  • Genes. Some changes to genes and genetic conditions put women at higher risk for POI. Research suggests that these disorders and conditions cause as much as 28% of POI cases.3 For example:
    • Women who carry a variation of the gene for Fragile X syndrome are at higher risk for Fragile X-Associated POI (FXPOI).4 Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of intellectual and developmental disability, but women with FXPOI do not have Fragile X syndrome itself. Instead, they have a change or mutation in the same gene that causes Fragile X syndrome, and this change is linked to FXPOI. Visit the What is the connection between POI and Fragile X syndrome? section of the site for more information.
    • Most women who have Turner syndrome develop POI. Turner syndrome is a condition in which a girl or woman is partially or completely missing an X chromosome. Most women are XX, meaning they have two X chromosomes. Women with Turner syndrome are X0, meaning one of the X chromosomes is missing.
  • Other factors. Autoimmune diseases, viral infections, chemotherapy, and other treatments also may put a woman at higher risk of POI.2


  1. Coulam, C. B., & Stern, J. J. (1991). Immunology of ovarian failure. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 25¸169–174.
  2. Cordts, E. B., Christofolini, D. M., Dos Santos, A. A., Bianco, B., & Barbosa, C. P. (2011). Genetic aspects of premature ovarian failure: A literature review. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 283, 635–643.
  3. Fridovich-Keil, J. L., Gubbels, C. S., Spencer, J. B., Sanders, R. D., Land, J. A., & Rubio-Gozalbo, E. (2011). Ovarian function in girls and women with GALT-deficiency galactosemia. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease, 34, 357–366.
  4. Trans-NIH Fragile X Research Coordinating Group and Scientific Working Groups. (2008). National Institutes of Health research plan on Fragile X syndrome and associated disorders. Retrieved January 4, 2012, from http://nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/Documents/NIH_Research_Plan_on_Fragile_X_and_Assoc_Disorders-06-2009.pdf (PDF - 439 KB)
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