Eggs are removed from the ovaries approximately 36 hours after taking the hCG injection. If the patient regularly take any medications (allergy medication for example) they should talk with their doctor or nurse about taking the medication on the day of the egg retrieval.
The patient will be asked to not eat or drink as of midnight before the egg retrieval. During the egg retrieval procedure, they will receive a mild sedative through an IV, a small tube in a vein in the arm. This is a form of light general anesthesia where they will breathe on their own but will not feel the procedure nor remember it afterwards.
After they are sedated, 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 follicles in the ovaries are collected into a test tube and sent to the IVF lab. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, and discomfort is generally minimal.
The male will collect a sperm sample by masturbation the day of the egg retrieval (occasionally a second sample is needed as well). He should abstain from ejaculation between 1 and 3 days before giving the sample. Alternatively, if frozen sperm is being used, we will thaw the sperm vial(s) once we know we have eggs.
Recovery after egg retrieval
Most women are able to go home within two hours of the egg retrieval. We make sure 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 patient 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 the physician 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 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
During the egg retrieval, cells in the ovary that produce the hormone progesterone are removed along with the eggs. Progesterone serves to prepare and support the lining of the uterus so that embryos may implant. The patient will be asked to take a progesterone supplement daily for the next two weeks and through early pregnancy. Progesterone is usually taken intravaginally by inserting a micronized Progesterone tablet such as Prometrium or Endometrin into the vagina but progesterone can also be taken by injection.
Communication with our clinic is important during this time. We ask that male and female partners be available for telephone calls and consultations on a daily basis 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.
Risks from an IVF procedure?
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.