When using fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg, the ovaries can be overstimulated, producing more than 10 to 20 eggs at the same time, causing extreme swelling, abdominal distention, loss of electrolytes, and water accumulation in the abdominal cavity. Fortunately, if women can control their ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, most can get pregnant.
Common symptoms of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome:
The following are symptoms of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome: ovarian enlargement, fluids leaking out of blood vessels and accumulating in the abdominal and chest cavities, electrolyte imbalance, thrombosis, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distention, difficulty breathing, decreased urination, and kidney and liver dysfunction or failure.
Who tends to get this syndrome?
- Women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Hypothyroidism: increased thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates the FSH receptor, causing the body to overreact to HCG, the hormone used in IVF treatments.
Because too many follicles develop at the same time, the eggs cannot mature properly and corpus luteum function could be insufficient, thus leading to a difficult pregnancy after ovulation. If the corpus luteum does not produce enough progesterone, it will negatively influence the development of the fetus and cause miscarriage or abnormal development of the fetal brain. Each follicle releases estrogen, so a woman’s estrogen level can reach a very high level. If a woman has an estrogen dominance condition before IVF, the excessive estrogen can lead to psychiatric problems, extremely high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and varicose veins in the future. If the ovarian hyper-stimulation is not corrected as soon as possible, it may cause kidney and heart failure. We can combine Chinese herbs, electrical acupuncture, and acupressure to prevent the ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome.
What can women do to prevent ovarian hyper-stimulation?
1. Use acupuncture to treat PCOS a few months before a woman starts an IVF cycle. Electrical acupuncture can effectively restore normal ovulation and help women balance their hormones, according to a study done by Dr Stenver-Victorin et al. Using electrical acupuncture can not only induce regular ovulation in women with PCOS, but also lower body mass index (BMI), the ratio of waist-to-hip circumference, serum testosterone concentration, and serum basal insulin levels.
2. Reduce the intake of simple sugars such as cookies, ice cream, chocolate, and juice. Eat more vegetables, especially raw green juice, which can help restore ovarian function and lower cholesterol level.
3. According to new research published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine in 2016, by combining embedded catgut at acupuncture points with Chinese herbs, patients can lower their total cholesterol level, lose weight and restore regular ovulation more effectively than using just Chinese herbs, just acupuncture points or just the catgut embedding technique. These treatments can help PCOS patients increase their pregnancy rate more effectively and better optimize their insulin level. In my 27 years of clinical practice, I have combined Chinese herbs with embedded intradermal needles at acupuncture points 3 months before IVF for my patients. As a result, their pregnancy rate is much higher and ovarian hyper-stimulation rate is much lower.
4. Reduce salt intake during IVF. This is important so the body will not retain too much water, and blood pressure will not shoot up too much.
5. If a patient develops ovarian hyper-stimulation, she should start electrical acupuncture to reduce the swelling and drain out the water from the body by improving kidney function. Please do not drink Gatorade for the electrolytes; green tea and fresh lemon juice are much better choices.
6. Take a natural diuretic such as green tea with part of watermelon or Coix lachryma Jobi Seed (Yi Yi Ren) to discharge the extra water.
7. Avoid spicy food to reduce ovarian inflammation.
8. Acupressure on the points SP9 and Kid4 will help reduce the swelling.
9. Use this small herbal formula to reduce the swelling of the ovaries and increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy: Fu Ling 20g, Bai Zhu 20g, Ze Xie 15g, Gui Zhi 6g, He Shou Wu 12g, and Huang Qin 10g. Soak the herbs overnight. Add 4 cups of water. Cook for 25 min. Drain out the decoction. Then, add another 4 cups of water and cook for 20 min. Combine the first and second decoction and divide the solution into 4 cups. Take one cup in the morning and one in the afternoon, either half an hour before a meal or two hours after a meal.