I'm a mum of two who never thought I'd even be able to have one child! This is my account of my first IVF cycle which made me very poorly.
I've always known I'd have issues when it came to having children. Polycystic ovaries are the reason for that. I don't have the full syndrome—just the dodgy ovaries.
I loved these ovaries when I was young. When you're in your teens, one period per year, if at all, is living the dream! No one wants the pj and snickers days every month.
After I got married in 2007, the thought of kids started to creep in. Not straight away mind... they would ruin my social life! :-) Fertility treatment for me built up to IVF. They wanted me to take Clomid, a medication to induce ovulation. Didn't work. Then we had to try FSH injections, again to induce ovulation. My body would either over respond or not respond. All three tries of this were cancelled due to this.
IVF Side Effects
All medical procedures have risks. This is no different.
We were advised about the success rates and also told that nearly all women will experience side effects of:
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal bloating
'I can live with that Doc - inject me up!' In rare cases, you can have Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) but it's highly unlikely it would be anything other than mild.
Like all things you're told are too rare to worry about, I didn't. In hindsight, I should have.
My First IVF
I'll not bore you with the details of daily injections but my egg collection ended up with 30+ eggs, which is a lot!
The eggs were out and it all went downhill. I had severe stomach pain and bloating then I started vomiting at least once every half hour. The slightest movement brought on more so I slept. Everything I ate or drank was straight back out. By the second day, I was taken to the hospital and put on a drip. By day three I was feeling much better! Phew.
What a weekend, but thankfully I was on the mend. I'd gotten mild OHSS hadn't I! Nightmare. Our Dr informed us that it may come back if I ended up pregnant.
IVF Success Rates
Oh My God, I'm Pregnant!
Four days before my planned pregnancy test and one week after the last bout, I started to feel nausea and sickness kicking in again. Being impatient we did one of those 'early' pregnancy tests. It was positive!!! The faintest line I've ever seen, but it was a line! I'll never forget that amazing feeling, it was all worth it!
Then wallop - everything changed. All the symptoms I'd had the week early came back, but much worse. I remember the first few hours of vomiting then nothing until the next night when my husband was carrying my limp, weak body to our car to drive me to the hospital. I couldn't sit upright in the wheelchair even though I was trying so hard, I just kept drifting in and out of consciousness. I woke up in the hospital the next day with drips and catheter attached. The fluid was going in, but not coming out. Over the next few days, my stomach got bigger and bigger. By day four I looked nine months pregnant. I was in so much pain and couldn't breathe or move. My husband genuinely thought I was going to die.
By this point, I was rushed for an emergency scan which showed my chest and stomach cavity full of fluid. Every drop has leaked into here and I was still severely dehydrated. In the same room, a tube was painfully jabbed into my stomach to drain the fluid—he feeling of relief was unbelievable! Four litres of fluid drained off over the next 24 hours and I felt human again, and I was eventually discharged one week after being admitted.
I'd had severe OHSS.
Statistics for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
- Severe OHSS occurs in about 1.4 percent of all hCG cycles
- The risk for each woman is 2.3 percent over an average 3.3 cycles
- OHSS affects approximately 6.000 women each year (based on 430,000 in vitro fertilization cycles in the U.S. and Europe)
- Several cases of fatality have been reported, but death from OHSS is very rare
- More than half of patients require only one procedure to remove excess fluid from the abdomen
- A small number of patients require hospitalization
After getting home I had to get my head around what had happened. And on top of that, I was pregnant!
I couldn't concentrate on these happy feelings as my leg got more and more painful as the week went on. I could have it horizontal but all other positions were excruciating. After being home for a week I went to A&E. I had no pulse in my foot. From there I was rushed to another scanning room to check for potential DVTs. After a tense scan, I was told 'It's good and bad news. The good news is you don't have a DVT. The bad news is, you have a clot in your leg artery.' WTF?!
So again, admitted to the hospital for an emergency infusion of blood thinners to save my foot and stop the clot from breaking free and killing me. After the infusion, I spent the rest of my pregnancy injecting blood thinners into my ever-growing belly. My fertility Dr confirmed the clot was from the OHSS. 1% chance of it happening and it did.
What I Learned About IVF
I didn't know what happened to me could happen. I didn't know the symptoms of severe OHSS.
Would I do it again? Of course, I would as I had a healthy baby boy who has just turned seven! Even after all the issues I still feel lucky as it worked the first time. I even fell pregnant again naturally when my son was four months old so now have two children, thirteen months apart!! I'm very lucky.
However, I'd do more reading!! Find out exactly what can happen and what to look out for. Make sure your body isn't producing too many eggs, you need around fifteen to give you a chance. Having over thirty like me will bring on OHSS. If it is, talk to your Dr about reducing your medication. Be as informed as possible as even the least common risks can happen to you!
I just want to raise awareness of what can happen. Good luck with your IVF treatments and I hope it works the first time—just do as much as you can to protect yourself!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.