Egg Donation

I am an egg donor, and here you'll find details of my donation cycles. Go to the beginning of the blog for day-by-day details of each cycle. Questions or Comments? Email

Thursday, September 23, 2004

2 Days Post Retrieval: About Hyperstimulation

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is one of those big fears of egg donors. It's very rare - my information says it happens only 1-5% of the time. Of those people who do develop it, it is much more common on the first time through the drugs than later times.

OHHS happens when you are *too* stimulated, and is basically just fluid buildup around the ovaries and (in moderate to severe cases) other places in the abdomen.

I was one of those people who developed OHHS on my first donation (it hasn't deterred me from doing 3 more). A couple days after the retrieval, I noticed that I had some pain when I laid in bed on my left side. The next day I had gained about 3 pounds and was having a little trouble breathing. If you've ever worn a corsett, you know the feeling. It's like you can't get a full breath in. That really is what's happening. Your ovaries are really big and they're surrounded by fluid that is taking up space where your lungs would expand.

That evening I called the doctor. He wasn't too worried, but told me to call if it got worse. That night I couldn't sleep on my right side or my back - I had to lay on my left side. Any other position created this sharp, stabbing pain. The following morning I had gained another 5 pounds. I went into the clinic that day for an ultrasound which showed me with mild OHSS.

Unfortunately, it got worse. After 2 more days I had gained a total of 17 pounds. That is nearly 2 GALLONS of extra fluid in my abdomen. My ultrasound at this point showed moderate OHSS with fluid up around my liver.

I was completely freaked out.

I couldn't breathe, none of my clothes fit me, and it hurt to move. I was now going into the clinic every day to be checked with ultrasound, weigh-ins, and measurements of my abdomen (I don't even want to report how many giant inches around I was). At one point I just started crying uncontrolably during an ultrasound because I felt like my body was rebelling against me and just maybe I might die. That was quite an overreaction, but I'm used to my body doing what I want it to.

There is no pill or shot they can give to fix this. The best advice is to eat protein and salt that will help draw out the fluid.They recommend V-8 which makes me gag, so I started mixing tablespoons of salt with gatorade, followed by a pure gatorade chaser. That is nasty. I became a salt monster, reading sodium content on nutrition labels, and obsessing for 3 days until I discovered the soy sauce. That stuff has MASSIVE amounts of sodium, so we went out to PF Changs. I had crispy tofu and rice with like half a bottle of soy sauce. The next morning I lost 3 pounds, and was going to the bathroom constantly. Over the next 3 or 4 days I lost all of the 17 pounds I had gained.

The clinic was amazingly supportive. Over the 2 weeks from retrieval to back-to-normal, I was in there almost every day. It was definitely scary, but even while it was happening I knew I would donate again. In a weird sort of way I thought of it as a mini medical adventure.

So, to sumarize: It probably won't happen. If it does happen, it will probably only happen your first time. And if it DOES happen, get some soy sauce. Kikoman is your friend.


At 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow you are so brave to have done this egg donation procedure three times. i'm in the process but have not finished all the lawyer paper works and i have to make three trips to San Francisco which is so inconvenient since i live in orange county and go to school i was afraid of how my body would react to the hormone shots they will be giving me and if i'll be able to have kids again. I heard you will go through menopause at an earlier age too of course. what made you want to do this more than once? i don't have google but i have a yahoo email.

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At 5:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great blog, I'm considering donation and so far your posts have been really informative and insightful. I'm looking forward to reading the full archives tonight!

I can't believe there is no pill or shot for OHSS -- I guess if it ever happens to me, I'm lucky that soy sauce is a favorite. :-)

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At 7:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog!

I'm donating eggs (first time) and am a little worried about OHSS. I read your blog about eating lots of salt, but I was under the impression that salt made bodies retain more I completely wrong? My nurse said protein is good but that too much salt is bad. She also recommended V8 (but the low sodium kind).

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