IVF Egg Retrieval

In IVF, eggs are retrieved from the ovaries approximately 36 hours after taking the hCG “trigger shot” injection, which is the final step in the stimulation phase.

Before the procedure, patients must not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before. If the patient regularly takes any medications (such as allergy medication, for example), their doctor or nurse will advise them about taking medication on the day of egg retrieval.

During the egg retrieval procedure, the patient receives a mild sedative through an IV, a small tube in a vein in the arm. This form of light general anesthesia allows patients to breathe on their own while ensuring they do not feel the procedure or retain any memory of it afterward.

After sedation, the vagina is washed with a sterile water solution. A needle is placed under ultrasound guidance into the ovary and fluid, and eggs from the ovarian follicles are collected into a test tube and sent to the IVF lab. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, and discomfort is generally minimal.

Sperm Sample

For aspiring parents with a partner capable of producing sperm, a sperm sample will be collected through masturbation on the day of the egg retrieval. In some cases, a second sample may be required as well. It’s crucial that the individual refrain from ejaculation for a period of 1 to 3 days before providing the sample. Alternatively, if frozen sperm is being utilized, the sperm vial(s) will be thawed once the eggs have been successfully retrieved and confirmed.

Recovery After Egg Retrieval

Most patients can go home within two hours of the egg retrieval. For the safety of our patients, we require that someone is available to take the patient home since they cannot drive a car after sedation or anesthesia.

Recovery after egg retrieval is usually quite rapid. Some patients may experience some pelvic heaviness, soreness, or cramping. Spotting is normal but should be less than a regular menstrual period.

The following recommendations will ease the recovery and prepare the body for next steps:

  • Treat discomfort with a heating pad and rest.
  • Ask your doctor to recommend pain medication if discomfort continues.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise, as ovaries are still enlarged during this time and may be tender. Gentle walking is fine.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid tub baths, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, swimming, or immersing oneself in water from the time of the egg retrieval until after the pregnancy test. Take showers rather than baths.
  • Avoid medication except that which the doctor or nurse has asked or approved the patient to take.
  • Refrain from penetrative sexual activity in or around the vagina from this time up until one week after the embryo transfer.
  • Do not use douches, spermicides, or vaginal creams during this time.

Progesterone Supplement

During egg retrieval, cells in the ovary that produce the hormone progesterone are removed along with the eggs. Progesterone serves to prepare and support the uterine lining so that embryos may be implanted. The patient will be asked to take a progesterone supplement daily for the next two weeks and through early pregnancy. Progesterone is typically administered intravaginally using micronized tablets like Prometrium or Endometrin, but it can also be administered via injection.

Communication with our clinic is important during this time. We ask that patients be available for telephone calls and consultations daily during the time between egg retrieval and embryo transfer, in the rare event that an additional sperm sample is needed, or a change in plans is required.

Egg Retrieval Risks

Complications after egg retrieval are rare. Since the doctor can see the needle on the ultrasound and uses the ultrasound to guide the procedure, the chance of a serious problem is small. Unusual problems include internal bleeding, vaginal bleeding, or infection.

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