Updated: Nov 19, 2022
You have decided to pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF). You have endured countless injections. You may have read the clinic’s handouts and jumped on every online blog, but questions remain. What can I actually expect? What can I do to prepare beforehand? For women who are embarking on this exciting journey, here are some real-life tips to make the whole process easier.
First, some background. Infertility affects over 80 million couples worldwide. It is estimated that around 8 million babies have been born via assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF. In other words, you are not alone. There are literally millions of others just like you who have gone through the process.
What is Egg Retrieval?
Simply put, the egg retrieval process involves the use of ultrasound to extract eggs, an integral part of the IVF process.
What Leads Up to the Egg Retrieval?
Prior to the procedure, you likely will be on stimulation medications as prescribed by your physician (the dreaded “shots” part of the process). Your clinic will monitor you regularly to track your response to the medications. The monitoring usually involves both regular ultrasound examinations as well as laboratory blood testing. Once your physician determines that the time is right, you will be instructed to administer a “trigger” injection (final injection – yay!). Approximately 36 hours later, or as directed by your physician, you will present for the egg retrieval.
What Happens on the Day of the Egg Retrieval?
You will be instructed to arrive fasting (no food or water for a specified timeframe). You will check in with your clinic. For most patients, they are given a hospital gown and cap to change into. You will meet with various nurses and clinic staff members during the preoperative process. You will be asked about allergies, when you last ate, etc. You will likely meet with both the physician who will perform the surgery as well as the anesthesiologist. An intravenous line (IV) will be placed. In many clinics, patients are given IV antibiotics prior to the procedure in order to prevent the possibility of infection.
You will then be escorted to the operative room. The physician will ask you to confirm one final time your name and the procedure that will performed. The anesthesiologist will administer the anesthesia via the IV and you will in essence be “asleep” during the procedure.
One thing that is particularly reassuring – you do not “feel” anything during the procedure and may not remember everything that happened shortly after the procedure during recovery.
During the procedure, you are monitored closely by the anesthesiologist while your physician performs the egg retrieval. Another bit of good news – the procedure is usually quite short! Often, the entire process is less than 30 minutes.
You will “awake” in the recovery area, where you will continue to be monitored. Once the clinic team determines that you are stable, you will get dressed and be allowed to return home.
Will the Egg Retrieval Hurt?
Prior to undergoing IVF, many are concerned regarding pain. First, you will not feel anything during the procedure. Second, you likely will be administered pain medications intravenously during the procedure, so this will lessen the pain you experience after the procedure. Also, in terms of surgical risks, they are relatively minor. Many patients describe moderate cramping or generalized discomfort following egg retrieval. However, the experience varies with each patient.
How Should I Prepare for the Egg Retrieval?
Before your egg retrieval, it would be helpful to have some items at home during your recovery. First, talk to your clinic regarding pain medications. It may be helpful to purchase over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil) and extra strength acetaminophen (Tylenol). Having these at home prior to the procedure may avoid the need for a last-minute run. Additionally, it may be helpful to check with your clinic regarding the need for stool softeners. Constipation is a common side effect of the anesthesia. Thus, some clinics recommend that patients purchase an over-the-counter stool softener in the days leading up to the procedure.
One important item to purchase is a heating pad! Many clinics recommend buying a large electric heating pad prior to egg retrieval procedure.
How Long is the Recovery Following Egg Retrieval?
Following the procedure, most patients will experience some minor bloating and cramping. You will also be more tired due to the anesthesia. Many providers recommend that patients take it easy for a couple of weeks, although some patients report feeling better in about a week.
What Should I Do After the Egg Retrieval?
Spoil yourself! You deserve it!!! Make sure you get plenty of rest. Order your favorite takeout. Binge watch your favorite show in bed. You just went through an amazing process placing you one step closer to becoming a mom. Celebrate yourself for being the strong Warrior Mama that you are!
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Have you underwent an egg retrieval? We would love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share in the comments section below.