OHSS symptoms and causes

Summary: Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome is a symptom caused by the strong medication administered to women during the IVF treatment. Not all women suffer from OHSS during the IVF treatment. Find out what are the precautions that can be taken to prevent OHSS? You can avoid this medication and escape this condition with an alternate. 


Not being able to get pregnant can be very depressing and emotionally drag you down. Many couples are willing to do anything just to be able to have a baby of her own.

Infertile couples are so focused on having a baby that they give little thought to the side effects of the strong medication they have to take. As a part of the IVF treatment the female partner has to take some medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce a higher number of mature eggs than it normally would in an ovulation cycle. For the IVF procedure, doctors find it is necessary to have at least 8-10 mature eggs. These eggs are extracted during ovulation when they are mature.

The most healthy and best quality eggs are selected for the fertilisation process. Typically the embryologist will fertilise 4-5 eggs. Of the eggs that are fertilised the seemingly most healthy one is elected for the IVF procedure.

Generally women tend to have a mild condition of OHSS as a side effect of the hCG injections which is used to mature the eggs. However, in a few rare instances the OHSS can be severe and have a serious effect on the health of the patient.

Symptoms of OHSS

Some of the symptoms of OHSS are pretty general like diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain. OHSS is a general condition that several women suffer as a side effect of the hormone injection that is administered to stimulate the ovaries. Usually the symptoms will last for a week and then subside naturally. Occasionally a patient may get a severe condition of OHSS which can even be fatal.

Prevention of OHSS

Usually a hormone injection called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is used to mature and release oocyte for the IVF treatment. A woman is required to take the hCG injections to stimulate the ovaries to mature the oocyte.

The use of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH agonist) instead of hCG may get lesser mature eggs but also eliminates the risk of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. Doctors usually prefer to prescribe hCG due to better results. The hCG injections is stronger on the ovaries and the result is a greater number of oocyte maturation, however the side effects can be devastating for some women.

Some FAQs

Do all women who undergo IVF suffer from OHSS?

Many women to suffer from OHSS but it is usually just a mild condition with a few general symptoms.

Is it common for women undergoing IVF treatment to get OHSS?

Many women do suffer from OHSS due to the strong medication to stimulate the ovaries to help mature the eggs. However, the OHSS symptoms should subside naturally within a week.

What can I do to prevent getting OHSS?

In most cases doctors prescribe HCG to stimulate the ovaries. You could request the doctor for GnRH agonist instead.

What is the difference between HCG and GnRH agonist?

HCG is stronger drug and produces a higher number of mature eggs as compared to GnRH agonist, however the side effects of HCG are harsher too.

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