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Treating Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

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Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a side effect of taking fertility drugs, typically when undergoing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. OHSS may occur when taking oral fertility drugs, such as Clomid, but that is more unusual.

The symptoms of OHSS are thought to be caused by the fluids and substances released from over-stimulated ovaries. The fluid is transferred into the abdomen, which causes dehydration and abdominal bloating along with other symptoms.

The majority of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome cases are mild and require no treatment except for drinking extra fluids. However, mild OHSS can develop into moderate or severe OHSS, particularly if you become pregnant, so it is important to closely monitor the condition. Typically, OHSS will go away about a week after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation is stopped, but if you are pregnant, the symptoms may last anywhere from 10 to 30 days. This is because human chorionic gonadatropin (hCG) worsens the symptoms of OHSS.

If you are experiencing OHSS symptoms, the following may help to alleviate symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse:

  • Drink fluids — at least one 8 oz. glass per hour. Electrolyte supplemented drinks are suggested. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
  • Drink enough fluids so your urine is pale yellow and you are urinating every two hours.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity that could lead to ovarian torsion (twisting of the ovary).
  • Weigh yourself at the same time every day to monitor for rapid weight gain.
  • If you gain more than 2 pounds per day or your urinary frequency is decreasing, contact your fertility doctor. You will probably need an examination, ultrasound and blood tests.

There are times when your fertility doctor may recommend canceling an IVF cycle due to the risks of OHSS. In this case, your embryos can be frozen and then transferred in a later cycle after OHSS symptoms have subsided.

If your OHSS progresses to a severe form, you may be hospitalized so that you can be monitored closely and receive intravenous fluids.


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