Center for Assisted Reproduction

IVF Side Effects: Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

By CARE Fertility on November 22, 2016

A woman's reproductive organsOur team of Dallas fertility specialists are pleased to help patients start families and lead enriching lives. Many times this is accomplished through in vitro fertilization (IVF). During IVF, women are given fertility drugs that help prompt ovulation and regulate the hormones of the body.

Fertility drugs help increase the chances of success for IVF, though they do have some side effects. One such side effect that may occur as part of the IVF process is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS. Let's go over the basics of this condition right now.

What Is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)?

OHSS is a condition that affects women who have taken hormones that stimulate the production and development of eggs in their ovaries. The condition may arise as a result of IVF treatment as well as ovulation induction and artificial insemination procedures. When there is too much hormone medication in a woman's system, the ovaries may respond by swelling and causing discomfort.

While OHSS can occur with the use of oral hormone medications, it is far more common when women use injectable hormone medications.

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

The most common signs of OHSS are as follows:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden weight gain (6 pounds or more)
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Tender ovaries

How Long Does Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) Last?

Typically, mild to moderate cases of OHSS last for about a week and fade on their own. If a woman successfully becomes pregnancy during a fertility treatment and suffers from OHSS, the condition can last for up to a few weeks.

What Is Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)?

Severe OHSS is a rare form of the condition that poses a number of serious health and wellness problems. The most common signs of severe OHSS are:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Extreme weight gain (up to 40 pounds in 10 days)
  • Persistent or chronic nausea and vomiting
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood clots in the legs
  • Less frequent urination

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact a doctor right away to seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

For mild and moderate cases of OHSS, treatment is non-invasive. Patients may be given painkillers or anti-nausea medication and asked to wear support stockings in order to prevent blood clots in the legs. Patients should stay well-hydrated. Proper at-home monitoring of weight and urination is recommended to prevent the condition from getting worse, with office visits to supplement the at-home care.

Severe cases of OHSS will need to be treated in a hospital. An IV will likely be administered to ensure a patient is properly hydrated and getting sufficient fluids. In addition, hormones may be injected that help suppress activity of the ovaries. In extreme cases, surgery may be required if the condition was especially damaging to a woman's reproductive system.

Again, we should stress that OHSS is rare, and all precautions are taken to screen patients for risk factors and to minimize the risk of this serious side effect.

Learn More About Fertility Treatment

If you would like more information about IVF and your many other options for fertility treatment, be sure to contact our team of fertility specialists today. We look forward to your visit and going over the many procedures available that can make having a child a possibility.

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