For some women, an IVF treatment strategy includes taking injectable hormone medications. The overarching goal is to stimulate the development of eggs in the ovaries. Yet, for some women, this can lead to a potential complication known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation. This is more common for IVF treatments that require ovulation induction or intrauterine insemination.
Women taking ingestible medications like Clomid Serophene might also experience symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation. However, this number is much smaller compared to women using injectable hormone medications.
This condition is often related to excess hormone medication in the woman’s system. Also known as OHSS, Ovarian Hyperstimulation can cause the ovaries to become swollen and painful. A small percentage of women experiencing OHSS may also experience secondary symptoms including abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and vomiting as well as rapid weight gain.
What Are OHSS Symptoms
Symptoms of OHSS tend to manifest within 10 days of using injectable hormone medications. The severity of symptom can vary and may decrease or worsen over time.
Moderate Symptoms Of Ovarian Hyperstimulation
Mild to moderate symptoms OHSS tend to develop within 10 days after receiving hormone treatment. This typically includes things like moderate abdominal pain, tenderness in the ovaries, abdominal bloating. Some women will also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some women will also experience sudden weight gain in excess of six pounds.
For some women mild to moderate symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation fade after a week. In some cases, where conception was achieved symptoms may worsen and could potentially last longer.
Severe Symptoms Of Ovarian Hyperstimulation
For a small number of women, moderate symptoms of OHSS can worsen. Common symptoms of severe OHSS include things like significant weight gain of over 30 pounds in as little as five to ten days. This likely occurs in conjunction with severe abdominal pain, persistent nausea and vomiting as well as blood clots in the legs, decreased urination and shortness of breath.
Seeking Medical Help
Symptoms of OHSS can be a serious cause for concern. If you are taking injectable hormone medications or you are taking Clomid Serophene, and you experience even mild symptoms of OHSS, you should speak with your doctor. They may want to observe you further to make sure symptoms don’t worsen.
If you are experiencing breathing problems, or pain in your legs, you should seek urgent medical attention. This may be a sign of a more serious complication developing.
Potential Causes Of OHSS
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome causes aren’t completely understood at this time. Increased levels of human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG from the fertility treatments certainly play a role. This hormone is typically produced during pregnancy. With OHSS the ovarian blood vessels start to react abnormally and fluid begins to swell in the ovaries, which eventually starts to leak into the abdomen.
Symptoms typically manifest within 7 to 10 days after receiving an HCG injection. If pregnancy occurs during the treatment cycle, the Ovarian Hyperstimulation symptoms may worsen as the body starts to produce its own natural supply of the HCG hormone.
Increased Risk Factors For OHSS
The likelihood and severity of Ovarian Hyperstimulation symptoms can vary from one woman to the next. There are some potential risk factors that can contribute to OHSS or worsen the symptoms.
This may include things like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is a relatively common reproductive condition which leads to irregular menstrual periods as well as excess hair growth. Many women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome will also have aberrations in the shape, size, or appearance of the ovaries, which can be revealed through a standard ultrasound exam.
Women under the age of 30 are also at increased risk for developing OHSS symptoms. As are women with low body weight, or who have experienced OHSS symptoms from a previous IVF treatment cycle. Women who have a large number of mature follicles or high levels of estrogen in their system before receiving an injection can also be prone to developing symptoms.
Potential OHSS Complications
It’s worth bearing in mind that severe symptoms of OHSS statistically affect around 1-to-2% of women, who are undergoing ovarian stimulation for IVF. Some of the more serious complications can include:
- Excess fluid building up in the abdomen
- Fluid buildup in the chest
- A disturbance in key electrolytes like sodium, and potassium
- Blood clots in the legs
- Early stages of kidney failure
- Ovarian torsion, or twisting of an ovary
- Ovarian cyst rupture with bleeding complications
- Shortness of breath and other breathing problems
Reducing Your Chances Of Experiencing OHSS
Your doctor will carefully monitor each of your IVF treatment cycles, which will likely include periodic ultrasound examinations to keep tabs on the development of follicles. Blood tests will also be used to monitor your hormone levels. These things are not only important for increasing the IVF success rate, but they can also help identify key factors for developing an individualized treatment plan for minimizing your chances of experiencing OHSS.
If they feel it is necessary, your doctor may adjust or change your medication. The goal is to administer the lowest possible dose of gonadotropins needed to stimulate the ovaries and triggering ovulation.
If diagnostics reveal that your estrogen level is high or that you have developed a significant number of mature follicles, your doctor may simply stop using injectable medication for a few days. This strategy, which is also known as estrogen coasting may then be followed up with an injection of HCG to trigger ovulation.
Source – Mayoclinic