What is OHSS and What Does It Do To The Body?

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a medical condition that affects women taking fertility medications. The syndrome occurs when the body is flooded with injectable hormone medications. The most common medications that lead to OHSS are injectable gonadotropins and clomiphene citrate. An excess number of follicles and hormones (estradiol) causes fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity. The ovaries also become enlarged.

Symptoms of OHSS

Usually, doctors perform a transvaginal and/or an abdominal ultrasound to determine if a patient has OHSS. Doctors break the syndrome down into three groups: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild OHSS causes some discomfort while severe OHSS may require hospitalization. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Blood clots
  • Shortness of breath

Researches suggest women alert doctors when any of these symptoms occur, especially abdominal swelling and rapid weight gain.

What causes abdominal pain?

The painful sensations patients with OHSS feel are triggered by the excess fluid buildup in the abdomen. The fluid causes the stomach to bloat which leads to digestive problems like diarrhea. Additionally, ovarian swelling contributes to abdominal pain. Once doctors have diagnosed a patient with OHSS, the patient should avoid getting pregnant. Pregnancy exacerbates OHSS symptoms.

How do doctors treat OHSS?

Treating OHSS requires collaboration between the patient and healthcare providers. In addition to medication, the patient must also make some lifestyle changes and undergo monitoring. The doctors will conduct tests to measure the ovaries and perform blood tests. Doctors will try to drain the fluid using a syringe or prescribe cabergoline to remove fluid buildup. Healthcare provides also encourage patients to limit physical activity and drink electrolyte-filled fluids.

Most OHSS treatment is done as an outpatient service but in rare instances patients need to be hospitalized. During hospitalization, patients will receive IV therapy to deliver electrolytes and doctors will perform fluid drainage.

Seek help from a fertility specialist

Fertility specialists are experts at uterine care and will be able to help patients struggling with OHSS. Patient taking fertility medication should meet routinely with doctors to monitor the body and any medicinal side effects. Schedule an appointment today with a fertility specialist to learn more.