My Ovary Twisted & I Can’t Even Begin To Tell You What That Feels Like

Whether it’s the fear of overstimulating on your meds or losing all your embryos in the IVF lab due to a freak earthquake, you never know what terrors are waiting around the corner when you’re going through fertility treatments. I ended up with a twisted ovary and while it was excruciating, I lived to tell the tale.

  1. There are so many things to stress about during an IVF cycle. If you worried about every little thing that could go wrong in an IVF cycle, you would 100% lose your mind. They tell you not to stress, but they also tell you that you could overstimulate and end up in the hospital with 20 extra pounds of retained water weight. My method of coping? Pretend like everything is totally normal and continue to live life.
  2. In order to lead a normal life, I kept up with my normal routine. Nothing feels normal when you’re hopped up on fertility drugs. Even so, you have to attempt to obtain some form of normalcy or you’ll legitimately go crazy. I was told by my nurse that light exercise was OK, but nothing too intense. They don’t want any additional pressure placed on the abdomen while dozens of follicles are growing inside me. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of an extreme person, so it’s all or nothing in my book. I continued with my normal workout regimen, which included some weight lifting and cardio. Everything was fine until about nine days into my meds.
  3. As if I needed another reason to hate burpees. I would love to meet a person who enjoys doing burpees. They provide a great workout, but throwing your body to the floor, doing a push-up, then picking yourself back up again without looking like a beached whale? Zero fun. Regardless of my burpee hatred, I was into my second set of 20 when BAM – I was hit with the sharpest, most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. It was the kind of pain that brought me to my knees and caused me to puke all over the shiny gym floors.
  4. I didn’t know a twisted ovary was possible. A twisted ovary, also known as “ovarian torsion” occurs when an ovary flops down and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply in the process. The meds that stimulate your follicles make your ovaries larger and more likely to twist. Aside from the horrific pain that sent me straight to the ER, I had to cancel my IVF cycle. I was so close to retrieval, so it broke my heart.
  5. It could have been much worse. A twisted ovary will cut off blood supply to the ovarian tissue, so if it isn’t treated quickly, the lack of blood supply will kill the tissue and you’ll have no choice but to remove your ovaries. Luckily, I went straight to the hospital where they were able to untwist it. I consider myself extremely lucky.
  6. The experience has turned me into a total hypochondriac. Every cramp, twinge, or itch has me fearing the worst. I find myself going down the dark and dangerous path of online message boards or WebMD searches and diagnosing myself with super random diseases. Stomach ache from the pint of Ben & Jerry’s I just ate? Definitely stomach cancer.
  7. Don’t freak out– the condition is super rare. Before you analyze every pain in your abdomen like I do, know this: you would DEFINITELY know if your ovary twisted. It would be on par with the worst pain you’ve ever felt. A rule of thumb: If you have the ability to ask yourself, “Mmm, I wonder if my ovary is twisted?” without barfing or screaming in writhing pain, you’re good. Furthermore, it’s pretty rare. I just so happened to win the twisted ovary lottery. Yay, me! Torsion occurs in a mere 1% of cycles, which is not the 1% I hoped to be a part of in life.
  8. I learned my lesson, I guess. The thought of going through another IVF cycle makes me queasy, but I’m hoping for some sort of amnesia to get me through it. When I do finally get the courage, there will be no burpees. Because when your nurse tells you to rest, actually do what she says. On the upside, now I have an excuse to sit out for burpees – PTSD.
Caitlyn is a freelance writer living in Washington D.C.