One of the more exciting times for those on a fertility journey is the egg retrieval. But it isn’t without some trepidation. If you don’t know what to expect you are likely more anxious and a bit unsettled as the procedure approaches. Knowing what to expect is the best way to calm your fears and prepare you for your egg retrieval.
Many of the treatments for infertility include egg retrieval. Cryopreservation (freezing) of embryos or eggs, egg donation and IVF all involve the process of removing oocytes (eggs) from the ovary, enabling fertilization outside of the body. Doctors consider egg retrieval routine and very safe but, as with any medical procedure, it isn’t without risks. Here we explain the process and offer tips to help you avoid the possibility of complications.
How to Prepare for Your Egg Retrieval
As most women know you are born with all of the eggs you’ll ever have. As you become sexually mature your body releases an egg each month (ovulation) and the lining of your uterus thickens to prepare for fertilization and implantation. When fertilization doesn’t occur, you experience your menstrual period.
It is normal for your body to release one egg each month during ovulation. For egg retrieval your doctor gives you medication so that your body produces multiple eggs at one time. Multiple eggs mean multiple opportunities for healthy, viable oocytes for fertilization. Often your doctor adds a second med that prevents you from ovulating too early. Your fertility specialist needs the timing to be exact.
During the time leading up to your egg retrieval, your physician follows your progress very closely. Not only to time your egg retrieval optimally but to watch for any negative side effects of the medication. Some women develop a condition called OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome), a painful but rare complication in which the ovaries swell.
The best thing you can do to ensure the process is successful is take care of your health.
- Avoid risky behaviors.
- Limit alcohol use.
- If you smoke quit smoking.
- Increase healthy and unprocessed proteins like tofu, legumes, fish and chicken.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Organic is preferable.
- Consume an anti-inflammatory die
- Take fertility supplements.
In the days immediately prior to the procedure, you should abstain from ibuprofen and other NSAIDS, aspirin, fish oil, vitamin E supplements and Chinese herbal medicine. If you are unsure about any medication, ask your fertility specialist.
Egg Retrieval Procedure
The procedure itself typically lasts less than 30 minutes. You will be under a light (twilight) anesthesia. You won’t remember or feel any discomfort from the egg retrieval procedure. Your physician uses a transvaginal ultrasound to help them locate your ovary. Your doctor inserts a needle into your vagina. Then the needle goes into your ovary to draw out the mature eggs.
At this point the lab stores your eggs as per your needs.
If you are an egg donor, the lab will freeze your eggs or prepare them for fertilization. For IVF the lab will proceed with fertilizing your viable eggs. For those who choose to freeze their eggs for future fertilization, the lab will act accordingly.
Egg retrieval is an outpatient procedure and you will go home as soon as you are able, usually within a few hours. Though the procedure isn’t painful, expect to experience mild cramping and minimal discomfort afterward. Because you have had anesthesia, you need to bring a friend or family member to drive you home. Your driver must be an adult and we don’t allow children to accompany you to your egg retrieval.
What to Expect After Your Egg Retrieval Procedure
Immediately following your release, you should go home and rest. Most patients feel well enough to return to work with a day or two. Rest and relax at home and if you experience any soreness or cramping treat with OTC acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Bloating, vaginal tenderness and spotting are also common within the first few days post-procedure. Call your fertility specialist immediately if you have any vomiting, extreme or abnormal pain or other unanticipated reaction.
It is possible to develop the very rare condition OHSS at any point during the egg retrieval process. Be assured this condition only affects fewer than 5% of those going through this type of infertility treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal tenderness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Enlarged abdomen
- Decreased urination
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid weight gain
Part of Your Team
If you have concerns or questions regarding an upcoming egg retrieval or any other treatment for infertility be sure to reach out to our office. At LA IVF we consider ourselves part of your team. Together we’ll work to help you realize your goal of growing your family. Contact LA IVF today.