Fertility Files

Ovarian Hyper Stimulation- What the doctors don’t tell you

Welcome back to my fertility series , if you want to check out my previous posts click here: Fertility files

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)- I am pretty sure not many of the population know anything about it let alone the risks to you as a person. Doctors in the IVF world are a little be ‘grey’ in this area and don’t really give the real-life facts.

One of the main points of this Is that OHSS can kill you. I am not being dramatic here, if you have severe OHSS there are several ways it can turn nasty.

In OHSS occurs normally in IVF when you have your egg retrieval. Your body makes lots of eggs and high amounts of oestrogen that both aren’t normal to the human body. When the eggs are removed the follicles fill with fluid. This can cause the following symptoms-

Swelling in the abdomen up to the size of a 9 months pregnant woman which takes up to 4 weeks to go down

Trouble urinating



Deep vein thrombosis


Abdominal pain

These symptoms can be mild to severe but all need to be watched closely- normally in a hospital where stays can last up to 10 days. If you have Polycystic Ovarian syndrome you are at higher risk of OHSS.

The doctors mention that they need to keep an eye on any symptoms that appear but never tell you until the day before retrieval what this could mean for my IVF cycle. It will be stopped. Your eggs will be frozen and you will need to wait until you are completely better and had another bleed before things can commence again- in around 2/3 months. This in any IVF rollercoaster can be stressful- you have psyched yourself up and are all ready and end up being let down.

The worst thing is- if the symptoms appear not only do you have OHSS to deal with and can feel horrendously ill but you also have to deal with the psychological fall out of your eggs being frozen and a long wait ahead (In IVF terms 2/3 months is like telling someone to wait for lightyears).

Symptoms peak before you can get better, this can leave you with panic attacks, kidney issues pain and never-ending sickness.

There are some ways to treat OHSS which include drips, albumin transfusion (proteins from the blood). There are many ways that forums online let you know ways to beat it (eating salt and water with electrolytes but these aren’t at all proven and mostly don’t work.

My advice is to don’t let yourself get too down by preparing for this eventuality first. Don’t assume it won’t happen.

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