The concept of retrieving your eggs might sound daunting but SFG physician Dr. Lauren Roth, who sees patients in SGF’s Frederick, Rockville, and Silver Spring, MD offices, explains in Parents Magazine exactly how the process will go—and why women don’t need to feel intimidated.
Women choose to undergo an egg retrieval for one of three reasons:
- They plan on using in vitro fertilization, which allows the retrieved egg to be fertilized by sperm and placed back inside a woman’s uterus as a fertilized embryo.
- They want to freeze their eggs and wait until they’re ready to have a child, for reasons often related to education, career, or personal life.
- Or, they plan to donate their eggs to another woman or couple.
Whatever the reason may be for making this decision, you can assume the retrieval procedure to be consistent, though the steps that follow will differ depending on your overall treatment plan. Here’s what you can expect, from the day before the retrieval, to the day of the surgery, to recovery.
Understanding the Egg Retrieval Process
Your doctor wants to optimize your chances of future pregnancy by retrieving as many healthy eggs as possible within one ovulation cycle. To do this, you’ll get testing done ahead of time to determine your egg count and from there you’ll move on to hormone injections. “We analyze hormone levels in the blood and ultrasound findings on the ovaries,” says Dr. Roth. “This allows the doctor to make a medication protocol specific to that woman so we can try to get as many eggs to develop in unison as possible.”
“By taking injections of your prescribed dosage for around 1.5 to 2 weeks, you initiate the simultaneous growth of multiple mature eggs,” says Dr. Roth. Thirty-six hours before the retrieval, your physician will order an injection often called a “trigger shot” that both finalizes the maturity of the eggs and stimulates your body to release them.
Will the Egg Retrieval Procedure Hurt?
“The egg retrieval is surgical, using mild sedation via IV that prevents a woman from feeling or remembering anything,” says Dr. Roth. The procedure is guided by a vaginal ultrasound, which reduces the risk of complications and will only take around 20 to 30 minutes. During the surgery, the physician will use a needle to enter each ovary and remove the fluid via suction from each follicle. Once you’re awake, you’ll need to have a friend or partner drive you home. In about a day you’ll be back to normal activity.
“Because egg retrieval is a surgery, you might experience some minor side effects like bloating, cramping, constipation, or spotting but most patients can return to work the next day,” says Dr. Roth.
SGF patient Stephanie Gerry, now mom of three, shared her experience with us. “Since I was diagnosed with PCOS, I knew ahead of time that I would likely need treatment to conceive. When I went through the egg retrieval process, my doctor was able to get 24 eggs and my husband and I decided to fertilize 6 of those.”
The best way to prepare yourself for an egg retrieval is to walk into an appointment being educated and informed of the process. We want you to feel comfortable throughout the entire procedure, beginning to end, so that you understand the entirety of the retrieval and are ready to take your first steps.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lauren Roth, or any other SGF physician, please call our New Patient Center at 877-971-7755 or fill out this brief form.