Egg Retrieval Guide
Though an egg retrieval is relatively simple, we understand the prospect of having any type of medical procedure can be intimidating. However, one of the easiest ways to alleviate anxiety before any procedure, including an egg retrieval, is to develop a better understanding of what to expect.
While not every patient will undergo an egg retrieval, it is a part of several common fertility-related processes, including In vitro fertilization (IVF), Egg donation, Egg freezing.
The steps that follow egg retrieval will differ depending on your overall treatment plan. The egg retrieval procedure, however, is always the same.
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Before your procedure
Before the egg retrieval procedure can be scheduled, you have likely been taking some type of ovarian stimulation medication to recruit more follicles and bring them to maturity. Once your follicles reach a certain size, as deemed appropriate by your physician, and as seen visible during monitoring via ultrasound, you are ready for your egg retrieval.
When the follicles have reached maturity based on labs and ultrasound monitoring, your physician will likely order an injection, often called a “trigger shot”—a hormone that helps to finalize the maturation process of your eggs. In most cases, this will be either human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or leuprolide acetate (Lupron). The timing of this injection is crucial, as the retrieval needs to occur 36 hours after the trigger injection. This ensures enough time for the eggs to release from the wall of the follicle so they can be retrieved from the follicle fluid, but before the eggs release out of the ovary.
In most cases, when anesthesia is given, you will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 8 to 10 hours before your scheduled procedure.
Day of procedure
The egg retrieval procedure itself only takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Your guest will be asked to wait in the waiting room area of the ASC until your procedure in the operating room is complete.
Once the anesthesia has started and you are asleep and comfortable, the physician will use an ultrasound to locate your ovaries and look at the follicles—the fluid-filled sacs containing your eggs.
Using ultrasound guidance, the physician will introduce a needle into each ovary to remove the fluid via suction from each follicle.
Once the physician has removed the fluid from all of the follicles that can be safely accessed, the procedure is complete. As the fluid is being aspirated, the embryologist immediately scans the fluid under the microscope to identify every egg that is retrieved. We can tell you how many total eggs were retrieved the same day before you go home; however, the quality of the eggs is more difficult to determine because the eggs have supporting cells that surround them.
The exact amount of time you spend in recovery may vary. Patients typically spend about 30 minutes in the recovery room, resting and allowing the effects of anesthesia to wear off.
The person you selected to bring you to the procedure can then drive you home where you will follow discharge instructions and rest. Most patients are back to their normal activities the following day.
If you are preparing for an embryo transfer, your physician may also start you on a course of hormone supplements designed to support your endometrial lining in preparation for the embryo to attach and become a pregnancy.
You will be advised to avoid sexual intercourse for a period of time following your retrieval, as well as avoid swimming, taking baths, or any other submersing yourself in water.
You will also be asked to refrain from tampon use. Use a maxi pad for any post-procedure bleeding.
A nurse will also call you the day after the procedure to make sure you are recovering well and answer any additional questions that you may have.