If you are preparing for in-vitro fertilization, your doctor may have approached you about the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome from the hormone therapy. Often referred to as OHSS, it is a serious but common side effect of in-vitro fertilization treatments. The condition can cause enlarged ovaries, nausea, weight gain and abdominal pain among other symptoms. Although most cases of OHSS are minor and pass without incident, some can be serious health concerns. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of this worrisome complication.
Complete All of the Testing
If you have a full testing panel completed by your fertility clinic, they can do a transvaginal scan before your treatments. During this exam, your fertility specialist can examine your ovaries closely to spot any potential warning signs of cyst development. This can be an indication that your ovaries may be sensitive to OHSS.
Additionally, the clinic should run routine blood hormone assessments. The results of these tests will help your doctor identify your risk of PCOS, which is often a precursor to the development of OHSS symptoms. The more up-to-date your testing panels are, the more accurate the assessments will be.
Focus on Accurate Dosing
It's essential that your medication doses are accurate, because high concentrations of IVF hormones in your body can increase your risk of OHSS. Your clinic will probably start you on the lowest necessary dose based on your testing results. Then, you can ask for ultrasounds and blood testing regularly to monitor the condition of your follicles and ensure that you aren't causing overstimulation.
Don't Rush the Retrieval
Sometimes, delaying the retrieval of eggs can also reduce your risk of OHSS. If the levels of estrogen in your blood are too high or your follicle development has increased rapidly, you'll want to ease off the medications for a couple of days. This process is often referred to in clinics as coasting.
Delay the Process with Freezing
If you're having serious problems with OHSS and your fertility doctor has expressed concerns, he or she may suggest that you consider freezing your eggs for a couple of months to allow your ovaries to rest treatment-free. This may give you the opportunity for a frozen embryo transfer that will reduce your risk of OHSS.
Since OHSS is a significant concern for most in-vitro fertilization patients, it's in your best interest to discuss it openly with your fertility specialist. Make sure that you are both on the same page about the precautionary measures and the testing. With the right care and proper administration of IVF medications, you can improve your chances of a healthy, happy pregnancy.