About the Egg Retrieval Procedure


Dealing with infertility is stressful in general, but those who are using IVF in an attempt to conceive can often feel extra stress at certain points. Egg retrieval, which is important to the final outcome, is often one of those steps that cause some added tension.

However, the more a patient knows about the egg retrieval procedure, the better prepared that person can be for this basically painless part of the process that can lead to conception. Knowledge is power, the old adage says, and knowledge can also provide peace of mind for the patient undergoing this all-important stage of IVF.

When does egg retrieval happen?

Egg Retrieval ProcedureWhen the ovarian follicles have achieved what is deemed to be an adequate size and stage of development, a so-called trigger injection is given to stimulate final maturation of the eggs, which will then be ready for retrieval.

The timing of this final injection is very important to the outcome of the entire process and this precise timing can mean the difference between harvesting viable eggs and not. The egg retrieval is then scheduled for 34-36 hours after the injection.

What happens during the egg retrieval procedure?

Egg retrieval will happen either in a doctor’s office or in a clinic or hospital, depending on the physician or the individual case. The patient is sedated and given pain medication in order to lessen any discomfort.

The usual method for retrieving eggs is known as transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. Many patients may already be familiar with the transvaginal ultrasound, which may have been used in the diagnosis of infertility.

An ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina in order to locate and identify the follicles and then a thin aspiration needle is inserted, going through the vagina and into the follicles to retrieve the eggs. It’s that simple!

Sometimes the ovaries are difficult to see via a transvaginal ultrasound so an abdominal ultrasound may be used as well, which will allow the doctor or technician a better and more precise view.

The whole procedure generally takes 20-30 minutes and multiple eggs can be removed during that time. After the procedure, the patient could feel some minor cramping, almost like menstrual cramping, and an uncomfortable feeling of pressure or fullness could occur as well, but should subside within 24 hours or so and can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Because anesthesia is involved, the patient should have someone available to drive them home from the procedure after recovery, which will likely take 1 to 2 hours. It’s wise not to plan to work or to participate in any other activities for at least a day after egg retrieval. By the next day, the patient should be able to return to work and resume normal daily activities.

After retrieval

Once the eggs are retrieved, they will be placed in a nutritive liquid and incubated. All eggs will be examined carefully and those that are deemed mature and healthy will be mixed with the partner’s/donor’s sperm in order to create embryos.

It’s important to remember, however, that not all eggs will be successfully fertilized. Nevertheless, the procedure works successfully for many women who wish to become pregnant and have their own biological children.

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