Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

What is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome?

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is characterized by painfully swollen ovaries. In a majority of cases it is brought on by intravenous hormone fertility treatments, but in rare instances it can occur while taking oral fertility meds. Even more rarely it can occur naturally. Mild cases are quite common while undergoing IV fertility treatments.

High levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG can cause ovarian blood vessel leakage. The excess fluid causes swelling, and in more serious cases it can enter into the abdominal cavity. The condition can significantly worsen if pregnancy occurs during treatment because of increasing HCG levels. Life-threatening complications occur very rarely.

What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome?

The symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of mild to moderate ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome may include:

  • Slight to moderate abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Bloating
  • Queasiness
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Tender ovaries

More serious symptoms may include:

  • Fast weight increase
  • Excruciating abdominal pain
  • Unrelenting queasiness and vomiting
  • Reduced urine output
  • Darkened urine
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Distended abdomen
  • Dizziness
  • Leg pain

How is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome Treated?

Treatment of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is usually unnecessary, but in moderate cases it may include:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Weight monitoring
  • Daily urine measurements
  • Blood monitoring
  • Increased fluid intake
  • Drainage of abdominal fluid
  • Support hosiery to prevent blood clotting
  • Avoidance of rigorous physical activities and sexual intercourse

Treatment for serious complications of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome may include hospitalization, intravenous fluids, anticoagulants, medication to counter the effects of HCG and surgical repair of a ruptured ovarian cyst. Intensive care may be necessary in the treatment of serious lung and liver problems.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017
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