Published: Sept. 26, 2008
Updated: Sept. 8, 2010
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs in approximately 1 to 5 percent of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) cycles. Risk factors that predispose a woman to OHSS include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other ovulatory disorders.
OHSS most often occurs in conception cycles though it may occur in any COH cycle. An increased number of follicles on your ovaries or the presence of high levels of estrogen in your blood increases your risk for developing OHSS.
Symptoms are usually mild and require no treatment other than drinking extra fluids.
In severe cases OHSS may result in blood clots, kidney damage, ovarian torsion (twisting), or abdominal and chest fluid collections. In these severe cases (1 percent), hospitalization may be required for IV fluids, monitoring, and removal of the fluid collections.
OHSS is transient and usually does not persist more than a week after COH medications are stopped if you are not pregnant. In pregnancy, OHSS may persist for 10 to 30 days.
OHSS is more of a spectrum of changes. Patients can have any degree of symptoms and not just mild or severe. The degree of OHSS can change with time and fluid status as well.
Please call us if any of these symptoms of severe OHSS occur.
If you require treatment by anyone other than our physicians (for example, an out of town emergency room), please do not allow a pelvic exam or aggressive abdominal exam.
If the physician has any questions they can reach the reproductive endocrine physician on-call at 919-684-8111.
After the follicles in the ovary have ruptured or have been aspirated, they can fill back up with fluid. This causes the ovaries themselves to become enlarged. The symptoms of OHSS are thought to come from the fluids and substances released from the over-stimulated ovaries.
Large amounts of fluid are transferred into the abdomen, causing dehydration and abdominal bloating as well as other symptoms.
Human chorionic gonadatropin worsens the symptoms of OHSS and therefore patients who become pregnant may experience a prolongation of symptoms.
Frustration from prolonged pain and inability to get comfortable are the most bothersome aspects of OHSS for most individuals. There is not any treatment to make this go away.
Drinking a lot of fluids is the best preventative medicine to keep a bad situation from getting worse. To help alleviate symptoms and prevent severe OHSS, please follow these instructions:
There are times when we recommend canceling treatment cycles or delay retrievals due to the risk of hyperstimulation.
"Coasting" can be done for patients on Lupron. This involves continued use of Lupron without gonadotropins and allows for the resolution of smaller follicles and a decline in estradiol.
Cancellations and coasting are done with the patient's well-being as the primary concern.
Estradiol levels may be used to monitor the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation. A history of irregular menses is one of the strongest factors associated with ovarian hyperstimulation.
Be sure to notify your physician of any history of irregular menses.
Learn about other potential diagnoses: