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A Look at Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Risks

December 3, 2020

Ovaries can be stubborn little performers, often governed by a mind of their own. If they were people, they'd be the sort that would turn their nose up at any new acquaintances. In this case, the sperm, if you please. Anovulation or infrequent ovulation can be caused by environmental or genetic influences and can result in irregular menstrual cycles. This, in turn, can hinder an egg from emerging through the fallopian tube for a duet with an anticipatory sperm. The result? Difficulty in conceiving.

Ovarian stimulation is considered a suitable method to induce the release of eggs in time for conception. However, in some women, an inordinate amount of hormonal medication can result in hyperstimulation.

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Understanding Ovarian Hyperstimulation

Ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS) stems from the ingestion of too high a quantity of injectable hormonal medication prior to an in vitro fertilisation procedure, intrauterine insemination routine or ovulation induction cycle. Hyperstimulation leads to the inflammation and swelling of the ovaries and can also cause abdominal pain, breathlessness and a sharp weight gain. OHSS is also thought to be tied to the consumption of oral fertility medications such as clomiphene. OHSS typically occurs about a week after hormonal ingestion and is usually aggravated by the onset of pregnancy.

Causes of Ovarian Hyperstimulation

The exact cause of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome hasn’t yet been identified. However, the following factors could play a role:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

  • A high count of ovarian follicles
  • Being below 30 years of age
  • Being underweight
  • Increased amounts of oestrogen in the body before hormonal treatment
  • Prior experiences of OHSS

The introduction of a large amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) into the body can influence the onset of OHSS. Blood vessels in the ovaries respond unusually to HCG and start releasing fluid. This fluid chokes the ovaries and spills over into the abdominal cavity.

Symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation

OHSS could manifest as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Mild to moderate abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Expansion of the waistline
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased ovarian sensitivity
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Breathlessness

In more severe forms, the condition could give rise to restrained urination, blood clots in the lower limbs and exaggerated versions of the symptoms mentioned above.

Measures to Minimize the Risk of OHSS

OHSS can lay a wall between you and pregnancy and wreak considerable havoc with your body. It’s best to minimize the risks posed to you beforehand so that you’re not susceptible to the condition. The sooner you start skirting the risks, the sooner you can say hello to pregnancy.

  • Measured doses of medication can secure your body against abnormal reactions; on Cloudnine, our doctors are careful to scale treatment plans gradually
  • Your doctor may advise you to wait a few days before taking injectable hormones if there is an atypically high quantum of oestrogen in your body
  • We have an avant-garde range of alternatives to HCG on Cloudnine; our treatment roster is tailored to every need
  • Cryopreservation or freezing of embryos can save you from repeated ovarian stimulation in future fertility cycles

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Coping with OHSS

OHSS can be painful but it needn’t hinder your lifestyle or daily schedule in any way. There are several methods you could adopt to alleviate the symptoms of the condition.

  • Ask your doctor for a suitable painkiller that can mask the pain rooted in your abdomen
  • Be sure to follow your prescription carefully; some painkillers tend to suppress implantation
  • Hold off on intercourse through this condition; it could potentially lead to an ovarian rupture
  • Restrict your exercise routine to low-impact activities
  • Monitor your weight and your abdominal circumference and be sure to report any unseemly fluctuations
  • Keep your doctor on speed dial in case your symptoms magnify

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Less severe forms of OHSS can usually be controlled via medical intervention including anti-nausea medication, painkillers, regular ultrasounds, urine tracking and adequate hydration.

On Cloudnine, we’re well acquainted with the various moods of your ovaries. That’s why we’ve developed ways to befriend them in the best way possible. Our ovarian stimulation routines are gentle, yet effective, minimising the risk of OHSS. With our cutting-edge procedures, we promise to make you and your ovaries smile.

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