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What is Ovarian Hyperstimulation?

Gonadotropins are used to help stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs, but a side effect of these medications can occur when your ovaries become hyper-stimulated—this is called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

It’s not uncommon to experience ovarian hyperstimulation when you are being treated with these injectable fertility drugs. In fact, a mild form of OHSS occurs in about 10 to 20% of cycles. Mild OHSS can cause some discomfort, but the good news is, it usually resolves quickly and without complications. Other symptoms of mild OHSS include mild to moderate abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with ovarian tenderness.

A severe form of ovarian hyperstimulation occurs in approximately 1% of the cycles. Symptoms of this more serious condition include a rapid weight gain—like 5 to 10 pounds in one to two days—severe abdominal pain, a tight or enlarged abdomen, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, hospitalization for monitoring may be required.

So who is at risk for OHSS? The syndrome tends to be more common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and women who become pregnant with the help of gonadotropins. If you feel like you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, be sure to mention it to your fertility doctor. Even if you have a mild form, it’s important to tell your doctor so he or she can watch you closely to make sure symptoms don’t worsen.

Want more information? Click on this video to see Dr. Elena Yanushpolsky of the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explain what the condition entails.

Click image to play.

Still have questions about OHSS and trying to conceive? Drop by where you will connect with women and men currently trying to conceive, recovering from pregnancy loss, navigating through fertility treatment, and joining the ranks of new parents!

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