stomach painOvarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a side effect that causes complications for some women using fertility drugs for fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. Many women are not familiar with the condition.

Here are some facts about OHSS that women should know:

  • OHSS is caused by too many hormones in the body. When you are stimulating the ovaries with hormones and they get too much, sometimes OHSS can lead to swollen and painful ovaries. While most cases are the result of using fertility drugs, OHSS can also occur naturally. Considered serious, OHSS is typified by pelvic pain and ovarian cysts.
  • Common fertility drugs, like Clomid, can cause OHSS. OHSS can be a side effect for Clomid, (Clomiphene) or other injectable fertility medications used to stimulate ovarian activity for procedures like IVF. It is more common for injectables to create the reaction than Clomid, however, as they are injected into the bloodstream directly while Clomid is taken orally.
  • OHSS is a buildup of fluid in the body. Because women who suffer OHSS have a buildup of fluid in the abdomen and chest, OHSS can make it hard to breathe. If a patient is experiencing this, they should contact their doctor right away as difficulty breathing is a sign of a severe case of the condition.
  • Some women are at higher risk for the condition than others. Women who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), have a large number of eggs present, are younger, have a lower body weight, suffer from migraines or experience an increase in estrogen right before the shot are more likely to develop OHSS. In addition, women who have had it before are more likely to have it again.
  • There are common symptoms that can alert you to the condition. These include pain and discomfort in the abdominal area, nausea and/or vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea, and sudden weight gain of 10 pounds in three to five days. Some women also suffer bloating and will notice a reduction in the need to urinate despite the fact they are drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the case. If the case is mild to medium, then bed rest typically resolves the issues. More severe cases, however, may require your doctor to drain the excess fluids with a needle.

OHSS is a serious condition that affects some women who use fertility drugs as part of their fertility treatments. The stimulation of the ovaries to get as many eggs as possible for IVF or other ART treatments can create this rare side effect. With your doctor’s help, however, the condition usually can be treated with some rest. Furthermore, most women will not develop the condition and will go on to be successful in their family-building efforts.

Sources:

“In vitro fertilization (IVF).” www.nlm.nih.gov. Web 6 August 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007279.htm>

“Clomid Side Effects.” Attainfertility.com. Web. 6 August 2014. < http://attainfertility.com/article/clomid-side-effects

“Ovarian hyperstimulation Syndrome.” www.mayoclinic.org. Web. 6 August 2014. < http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-hyperstimulation-syndrome-ohss/basics/complications/con-20033777>