Are you wondering what egg retrieval involves and what you can expect during and after the procedure?
Whether you’re considering or already started the process of egg donation, egg freezing, embryo cryopreservation, or in vitro fertilization (IVF), you might be left feeling unsure and overwhelmed by the idea of egg retrieval. While it's an important aspect of your fertility journey, the actual process of egg retrieval is routine and very safe. This article will answer many of your questions about the preparation, procedure, and recovery from egg retrieval.
Calming Common Fears Around Egg Retrieval
When talking with patients who are considering procedures that require egg retrieval, the most common concerns associated with egg retrieval are around the procedure itself and then the storage of eggs afterward. We believe that transparency is key when explaining any of our processes, so let's dive into some of the most common topics we talk through with our patients:
What Does the Egg Retrieval Procedure Involve?
The egg retrieval procedure takes 10-20 minutes under twilight general anesthesia. In other words, you’ll be able to breathe on your own without the need for help from a machine. But, don’t worry! You won’t be able to feel or remember anything that happens during the procedure.
During the procedure, your doctors will perform a transvaginal ultrasound. A needle is then guided into the vagina, seeking the ovary. The doctor will use the needle to suction out some of your eggs. After the procedure is over, the eggs will be immediately stored as appropriate for your needs.
Cryostorage, Security, and Safety
Cryostorage is the standard way of freezing eggs. In its basic form, it’s a simple process. As long as an intact tank is available, the skilled staff at Kofinas Fertility Group monitors the liquid nitrogen level and replenishes it when needed. Of course, an alarm backup is the key to preventing a storage disaster. Here at Kofinas, the safety of your eggs and embryos are our utmost priority. For this reason, we keep all our tanks on site where we can maintain quality control.
Should you be using the eggs from the egg retrieval for IVF, we’ll incubate the eggs to determine which are the healthiest and most viable. Then, we’ll combine those with the sperm in order to create embryos. After careful monitoring, we’ll be able to see if the eggs have been successfully fertilized.
If you are looking to donate your eggs, freeze your eggs, undergo embryo cryopreservation, or start IVF, the experts at Kofinas Fertility Group are some of the best in the business because of our commitment to quality service, security, and safety. Reach out to schedule a consultation today!
The 3 Crucial Stages of Egg Retrieval - Before, During, and After
The egg retrieval procedure is fairly short, but the process leading up to the procedure is longer. Here are the main steps in the process of egg retrieval:
1. Preparing for Egg Retrieval with Injections
You’ve probably heard that female infants are already carrying the egg cells that will later be released upon reaching sexual maturity. Yet, not all of the eggs are used. Through oogenesis, a woman’s eggs turn into mature eggs that can be fertilized.
Normally, one egg matures at a time and is then released during ovulation. For the process of egg retrieval, your body will need to produce more eggs so that they can all be extracted at once. For this reason, your doctor will give you medications, either orally or through injections. These medications will help your body produce multiple eggs and help them mature. You may also have to take medication to prevent premature ovulation.
During the time of the retrieval, your fertility specialist is actually looking at a snapshot of your egg health from the past few weeks.
This means that if you're considering freezing your eggs before you begin your injections, it’s beneficial to:
- Increase protein intake, especially with healthy fish
- Eat whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Decrease any foods that may lead to inflammation or poor nutrition.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
- Ask your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin
There are also external factors that can affect the quality of your eggs, such as air quality. So, do your best to live as healthy a life as possible so that your eggs will also be healthy.
Do note that in some rare cases, these injections can cause women to develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This condition causes abdominal pain as the ovaries swell. Stay in touch with your doctor about any symptoms you experience so that you can stay safe throughout the process.
2. The Egg Retrieval Procedure
The actual egg retrieval procedure is a short, outpatient surgical procedure, as described above. For most women, the procedure is not painful and results in mild cramping or discomfort afterward. After the procedure, you’ll recover for a few hours before being allowed to go home to rest. Make sure that someone else can drive you home, as driving within 24 hours of surgery isn’t recommended.
3. Processing Eggs After Egg Retrieval
If you are an egg donor, your eggs may be frozen or prepared to become embryos. If you are preparing for IVF, your eggs will be combined with sperm to create embryos. When the embryos are ready, they will be implanted into your uterus. For those who are simply freezing their own eggs for future use, they will be safely stored until you need them.
What Else to Expect After Egg Retrieval
After your retrieval, you might experience some common and completely normal pain and cramping. Because this is an outpatient procedure, the recovery period is much shorter compared to a procedure that requires a specialized surgical unit and operating room. Most women are able to return to work the day after the procedure without any complications.
Is weight gain common after egg retrieval?
Weight gain can also occur with egg retrieval. However, this is usually a sign of water retention and ovarian hyperstimulation. If you experience a weight gain of more than 5 pounds during your injection cycle or after your egg retrieval and/or you have significant bloating and pain, let your fertility doctor know immediately.
As you get further from egg retrieval, these side effects decrease rather quickly. When it comes to IVF, one of the strategies very commonly employed to prevent complications is to delay the embryo transfer by 1 month and to freeze the embryos. As a result, you will get your period 10-12 days after retrieval, and your ovaries will have returned to normal size and normal hormonal function.
What complications can occur after egg retrieval?
Although a few people may experience long-term effects, there is no real evidence that the retrieval process or IVF in particular causes long-term bloating, pain, weight gain, or any changes in menstrual patterns.
Egg Retrieval FAQ’s
Do you still have questions? Here are some frequently asked questions about egg retrieval to help you navigate this process.
How soon after egg retrieval do you get a period?
Most women get their period about 10 days to 2 weeks after egg retrieval.
Will I get bloating and gain weight after my egg retrieval?
Some discomfort such as bloating or cramps is common after egg retrieval. Your doctor will let you know what pain medications are best to use after the egg retrieval procedure. Weight gain is also normal for some women and is usually caused by water retention or extra fluid in the ovaries. However, the symptoms of bloating and weight gain are usually temporary and should disappear within about a week.
What should I eat after egg retrieval?
Eat healthy foods such as chicken noodle soup, lean proteins, and fruit and vegetables after egg retrieval. Some women may experience mild nausea due to the anesthesia used during the procedure. If this happens to you, eat mild, bland foods until you feel better again.
What happens to my hormones after egg retrieval?
After egg retrieval, your hormones will go back to regulating on their own. As a result, you’ll get your period within about 2 weeks of the procedure. If you’re going on to continue IVF treatment, you may need to continue taking hormones to prepare your uterus for implantation.
Is retrieval of eggs painful?
For most women, the egg retrieval procedure brings only mild pain after it is over. During the procedure itself, you’ll be sedated and won’t feel anything. Afterward, cramps similar to menstrual cramps and vaginal soreness are normal. You may also feel a bit woozy or nauseous as the anesthesia wears off.
How many eggs should be retrieved for IVF?
Ideally, your doctor will obtain about 15 eggs during the egg retrieval procedure. This is the ideal number of eggs for producing a live birth with IVF.
Are you fertile after egg retrieval?
Yes. Egg retrieval doesn’t affect your future fertility. So, many women donate eggs before having children of their own, later on. Or, you might freeze eggs to protect your future fertility and still have a natural pregnancy first.
Next Steps In Your Fertility Journey
Are you ready to learn more about egg retrieval and how it fits into your fertility plans? We are here to help!
When you're ready to get a more customized understanding of your unique situation and family planning goals, request an appointment with our team of experts. We’re here to guide you every step of the way!