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Risks associated with drugs used to stimulate egg production

Ovarian stimulation is a desired effect of certain fertility drugs used to stimulate egg production in the ovaries.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a potential complication of these fertility drugs, in particular gonadotropins.


In some women, the ovaries produce too many follicles (small sacs containing eggs) and become swollen and enlarged, while some fluid accumulates in the abdomen.


Symptoms vary depending on the degree of the condition and may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea, headache, fluid retention, low urine output, and multiple ovarian cysts.


Ovarian Hyperstimulation generally resolves spontaneously with conservative management but, sometimes, medical intervention is necessary.


Treatment includes reduction of physical activities, close monitoring, intravenous fluid, and possibly, removal of excess fluid from the abdomen.


Close monitoring of the patient to detect early signs of OHSS is crucial.

In some women, especially those who are older, the ovaries might not respond to fertility drugs and a treatment cycle might be cancelled.


Allergic reactions to these drugs are rare. It is important to report any known allergies to your physician before starting treatment.


Although it has been suggested that drugs used for ovarian stimulation can increase the risk of ovarian cancer, the general consensus is that this risk has not yet been unconfirmed.


Ovarian stimulation drugs are not associated with increased risk of uterine, breast or cervical cancer.

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Last Updated December 20, 2011 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada