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Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) - How Does IVF Cause It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ruchi Malhotra 91% (482 ratings)
MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, DNB - Obstetrics & Gynecology, DGO
IVF Specialist, Delhi  •  27 years experience
Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) - How Does IVF Cause It?

Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome is noticed in women who are administered hormone medicines through injections. These medicines trigger the development of eggs in the woman’s ovaries. This condition can be a side effect of IVF. It causes the ovaries to inflame and become very painful.

In some women, it progresses to severe OHSS. This syndrome should not be ignored as there are several other complications like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, electrolyte imbalance, blood clots, kidney failure, ovarian torsion, rupture of blood vessels in the ovary, miscarriage etc associated with it.

What are the Symptoms of OHSS?

The following are some of the most common symptoms of OHSS-

Abdominal pain and cramps
Bloating of the abdomen
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhoea
• Weight gain
• Breathlessness and wheezing
• A decline in the number of times you urinate

The severity of the ailment is not the same for all women. For some, it is short lived and dissipates in a week. But, if a woman becomes pregnant during this time, the symptoms may worsen.

When should you contact your doctor?

If your breathing problems become severe or if you feel a pain in your legs (because OHSS can lead to the formation of clots in the legs) you should immediately book a consultation with your doctor.

What is the cause of OHSS?

Doctors do not know exactly what causes Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. Research links this disorder with excessive levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone. This hormone is produced during pregnancy. And during IVF this hormone is introduced in your body. The blood vessels inside the ovaries react unnaturally with this hormone and begin to leak fluids. And this leads to the swelling up of the ovaries.

The symptoms of OHSS manifest themselves within a week since the start of IVF. And if the woman conceives during the treatment, the symptoms become worse because now her body also starts producing Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone.

Treatment for OHSS:

If your case of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation is mild, then you do not need medication. But if the symptoms persist, your doctor will prescribe pain-relieving medicines, anti-nausea medicines and IV fluid treatment. You may even have to be hospitalized where doctors will drain your abdominal fluids.

OHSS may be an outcome of IVF, but it resolves itself in a few days and even if it doesn’t, there’s medication and treatment that can cure it.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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