Egg Retrieval: You Asked – We Answered!
May 01, 2024
Generation Fertility Team

A critical step during in vitro fertilization (IVF) is egg retrieval. This is a procedure in which eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, which are then fertilized by sperm in a lab to create embryos. You may have many questions – what medications will I need? How many eggs will I get? How will I feel after? Here we answer common questions to help put you at ease. 


Questions About IVF Medications 


What are IVF medications used for? 

The process of egg retrieval starts with the use of IVF medications to stimulate your ovaries to make eggs. Eggs start out as follicles. IVF medications stimulate multiple follicles to grow, with the hope of creating several mature eggs. Once your follicles have grown to maturity (about 20 mm in size), you need to take your “trigger” injection, which prompts your body to ovulate. Roughly 36 hours later, you will have your egg retrieval. 

IVF medications are taken as injections that you can do yourself at home. Your Fertility Team will give you detailed instructions on how to do this. You got this! 


How long do I have to take injections? 

Approximately 8-12 days. 


How often will I need to come to the clinic? 

You will need to come in to the clinic periodically (usually every other day) to have blood work and ultrasounds to make sure you are responding appropriately to the medications.  


Are there any side effects to be aware of? 

Some patients experience bloating, headaches, nausea and fatigue. Remember to take time for yourself and to rest. Your body is working in overdrive to prepare you for a successful egg retrieval.  


What is OHSS?  

You may have heard the term OHSS. OHSS stands for "Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome." OHSS typically occurs when a patient has an exaggerated response to IVF medications. We typically see OHSS in patients with many follicles, and it’s usually a mild case that is easily treated at home. Those who are at risk for OHSS are usually instructed to take electrolytes to help counteract the overload of fluids. 



Questions About Egg Retrieval 


How does an egg retrieval work? 

You will be given anaesthesia, so will be asleep during the procedure and not feel anything. Your doctor will place an ultrasound probe vaginally and look at your follicles on a monitor. As soon as your follicles are in clear view, they will advance a thin needle through your vaginal wall and into the egg follicle.  

An egg follicle is like a small water balloon filled with fluid and a single egg. The doctor will use a machine to apply gentle suction and drain the fluid from the follicle. This fluid is collected in a test tube, then carefully handed over to the embryologist who evaluates it under a microscope and counts any eggs that are collected. This procedure is repeated for all follicles your body has made. 


Does someone need to come with me to the egg retrieval appointment?  

Yes, you will need someone to accompany you to and from the procedure. You are not allowed to drive for 24 hours after egg retrieval. 


How long does an egg retrieval take? 

On average, patients are in the operating room for 30 minutes and in the recovery room for 30 minutes. 


How will I feel afterwards? 

You may feel some mild side effects after your procedure. The most common one is bloating, which should get better in a few days. Most patients also experience some menstrual-like cramps for about 24 hours following the procedure. Fatigue is also common, and completely normal.  


When will I know how many eggs were retrieved? 

After you wake up from your egg retrieval, we will tell you the exact number of eggs retrieved during your surgery. This includes both immature and mature eggs.  


Who will be with me during my egg retrieval? 

You will have an awesome team with you on the day of your egg retrieval: your surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical suite nurses, and embryologist. So, rest assured that you'll have a large, supportive, compassionate team right by your side every step of the way. 


Looking to start your fertility journey? Talk to our Generation Fertility team and request an appointment today.

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