Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome occurs when woman's ovaries become over-stimulated during IVF treatment. The drugs given to her to induce ovulation can cause her ovaries to become swollen and leak fluid. Many IVF patients will have some experience of OHSS before their IVF treatment ends, but most will have only mild symptoms, and will not require any medical treatment. Moderate to severe cases do occur, however, and will require longer-term monitoring at the very least, and perhaps even hospital care.
The type of treatment you'll receive for OHSS will depend very much on the severity of your condition. Symptoms may endure for longer if you have actually become pregnant.
Mild OHSS Treatment
Mild OHSS symptoms usually go away after about a week. They include swelling and discomfort in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, bowel problems and changes in urine color and consistency. If you have these symptoms see your doctor. He will give you a physical exam and possibly a vaginal ultrasound to check your ovaries for signs of swelling. If he decides your case is mild, he will probably recommend the following:
- Non-prescription pain killers to relieve your discomfort
- Avoiding sex or heavily strenuous physical activity - to make sure you don't rupture a swollen ovary (although he may recommend that you stay moderately active to keep your blood flowing and avoid clots)
- Keeping an eye on your weight and keeping him informed of any changes in your condition
- Other than that, it's likely that you'll be told to drink plenty of fluids, and wait it out at home.
Moderate OHSS Treatment
If OHSS symptoms last more than a week, your doctor may have to intervene to a greater degree. He might for example:
- Prescribe medication to stop you feeling nauseous and being sick
- Bring you in more frequently for physical examinations, and ultrasound exams (as mentioned above) to check on your ovaries
- Order blood tests to monitor you for signs of dehydration and/or imbalance in your electrolytes (for example, the levels of sodium and potassium in your cells)
- Recommend that you wear support stockings (as people do in airplanes) to reduce the risk of blot clotting
- Tell you to drink sports drinks which restore electrolyte balance and carbohydrate levels
Severe OHSS Treatment
If you have severe OHSS, you'll almost certainly know about it. Classic symptoms are all those experienced with mild and moderate OHSS, but more severe. In addition, you may rapidly (within the space of day or two) put on significant amounts of weight, feel dizzy, and unable to breathe normally. If your doctor detects these symptoms in you, he will probably have you hospitalized, where you can receive all the treatments mentioned above, and also intravenous fluids. The staff there will also be able to monitor you for signs of blot clots, respiratory disorders, and liver or kidney problems. Recovery from severe OHSS can take several weeks.