Dec 01 2016

What You Need to Know about Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome and IVF


A woman with abdominal painAn unfortunate but common side effect of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS. It occurs in about one in ten women who undergo IVF with fertility drugs. These drugs work by stimulating the ovaries to improve the chances of a successful conception and pregnancy. Over-stimulation of the ovaries, however, can result in painful and potentially life-threatening symptoms. Dr. Janelle Dorsett can explain your risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome with IVF during a fertility consultation at our Lubbock, TX office.

What Is OHSS?

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a swelling of the ovaries caused by an over-stimulation by fertility drugs used with IVF. The condition is often painful, and can lead to fluid leaking into other areas, such as the abdomen and chest. The drugs that typically cause OHSS include FSH, LH, hMG, and hCG.

Symptoms of OHSS

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

  • Inconsistent lower abdominal pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Bloating

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have severe OHSS. These symptoms can be life threatening and can increase your risk of pregnancy loss. Contact our office if you experience:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Rapid weight gain, typically a pound or more per day
  • Constant nausea and vomiting
  • Decrease in the need to urinate and dark urine
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dizziness

Who Is at the Greatest Risk for OHSS?

Women who take multiple doses of hCG following ovulation are at an increased risk for OHSS. Becoming pregnant during the IVF cycle can also increase your risk for the condition. Other OHSS risk factors may include:

  • Being under the age of 35
  • Being below-normal body weight
  • A Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis
  • Previous occurrence of OHSS

Prevention and Treatment of OHSS

Careful use of fertility drugs and monitoring by Dr. Dorsett can help prevent OHSS. If you are experiencing mild OHSS symptoms, treatment is typically not necessary. Your symptoms should fade with menstruation. You can improve your symptoms by increasing your fluid intake and avoiding sexual intercourse until your symptoms subside.

If you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of OHSS, you should contact our office. Dr. Dorsett may perform an ultrasound. You should closely monitor your symptoms and make note of:

  • Your weight at the start and end of each day
  • The number of times you urinate throughout the day

Any significant weight gain or drop in urination may indicate a more serious case of OHSS. In this case, Dr. Dorsett may recommend draining excess fluid from your abdomen to prevent more serous complications.

Discuss Your Risk of OHSS Today

Although the symptoms of OHSS are uncomfortable and even painful, most patients do not experience severe symptoms. If you have questions or concerns about OHSS and IVF, Dr. Dorsett can address them during a consultation. To schedule your fertility consultation with Dr. Dorsett and discuss your treatment options, contact The Centre for Reproductive Medicine today. Dr. Dorsett can determine if IVF is right for you and address any concerns you have about OHSS.

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The Centre for Reproductive Medicine
Lubbock Office

Address: 3405 22nd St Ste 300
Lubbock, TX 79410

Phone: (806) 788-1212