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What is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome?

Couples in Louisiana who have difficulty conceiving may turn to fertility drugs to induce ovulation. These pharmaceuticals may help you to conceive on your own, or they may be the first step in the process of in vitro fertilization. In either case, however, use of fertility drugs may have unintended consequences, one of which is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

According to the Mayo Clinic, although ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can sometimes occur spontaneously, you are more likely to experience it while using fertility drugs, particularly those injected directly into your body rather than those you take by mouth. The hormones used to induce ovulation sometimes cause an abnormal reaction in ovarian blood vessels, which then leak fluid into the ovaries that can subsequently move into the abdominal cavity.

OHSS may be mild or severe. Severe cases of OHSS can be life threatening, and even mild cases warrant a doctor's attention. Symptoms of mild OHSS include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and/or bloating, a sudden weight increase of about six pounds and ovarian tenderness. Severe OHSS symptoms include the following:

  • Tight or enlarged abdomen
  • Severe pain
  • Decreased urination
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid weight gain of 33 to 44 pounds within five to 10 days

Severe OHSS can cause blood clots in the legs that can break off and travel to the lungs, causing respiratory distress and, potentially, death. You should contact your doctor if you have any symptoms of OHSS, even if they are mild. Your doctor should observe you for worsening symptoms. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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