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IVF and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: When to Seek Treatment

By HCRM on February 15, 2017


IVF and Ovarian Hyperstimulation SyndromeWomen undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) typically need injectable fertility drugs to stimulate egg development within the ovaries. The excess of hormones in the body due to these medications can result in a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Although, for most women, this condition is not serious, for some, it can involve severe and painful symptoms and can even be life threatening. The team at Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine in Omaha, NE, can explain the link between IVF and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) before beginning treatments.

What Is OHSS?

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a condition in which the ovaries swell, causing pain. Fluids may also enter the abdominal or chest cavities, causing further discomfort and complications. This condition most frequently occurs in women undergoing IVF treatments with fertility drugs such as hCG, hMG, LH, and FSH. These drugs can over-stimulate the ovaries, causing OHSS.

OHSS Risk Factors

Certain patients are at a greater risk for OHSS than others, including women:

  • Who take multiple doses of hCG following ovulation and conceive during the IVF cycle
  • Under age 35
  • With low body weight
  • Who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Who have previously experienced OHSS

Symptoms of OHSS

Symptoms of OHSS can range from mild to severe. Mild to moderate symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen that comes and goes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Moderate weight gain

You may have a severe case of OHSS if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Rapid weight gain (several pounds over a day or two)
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Infrequent need to urinate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe abdominal bloating
  • Dizziness

When to Contact Your Doctor

If you have mild symptoms that persist for longer than a couple days, you need to contact our office right away so we can monitor you. In most cases, OHSS symptoms subside with increased fluid intake and the start of menstruation. We can prescribe pain medication and anti-nausea medication to relieve some of your symptoms. We may also ask you to weigh yourself daily so we can monitor your weight gain.

If you have severe symptoms, you need to seek immediate medical treatment. Severe OHSS can be life threatening if not treated. In serious cases, it may require hospitalization. For serious OHSS, we may need to drain the fluid that has collected in the abdomen or chest. We may also need to use an IV to replenish fluids. Additional medications may be used to suppress the activity of your ovaries.

Learn More about IVF and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

If you are considering IVF but have concerns about OHSS, contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our fertility experts. They can evaluate your individual situation and assess your risk for OHSS. Our doctors can prepare you for what to expect and our team is always available to answer any questions you may have during the course of your IVF.

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Each and every staff member at Heartland Center is tremendous. Dr. Maclin is a woman of grace, and a terrific medical doctor. She is a world-class surgeon, and we are so grateful to know her.

Lene - IVF Patient

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