Egg Retrieval Process From Start to Finish Fully Explained

| Reviewed By Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Rewritten: While fertility treatment can seem intimidating, being familiar with the process can bring assurance to those trying to conceive. Getting familiar with the steps and procedures of egg retrieval can help simplify the process. If you encounter any difficulties in rewriting this text, please respond with the error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties.

Egg retrieval is done at the clinic using a transvaginal ultrasound, general anesthesia, and a guided needle. Before eggs can be retrieved, you will have to go through testing and take certain medications to ensure eggs are available. The process is precise.

There are multiple steps to the egg retrieval process. It’s important to know what to expect before, during, and after the egg retrieval process.

Egg Retrieval Process

The egg retrieval process starts way before you actually enter the clinic to have your eggs retrieved. There are preparations that occur and follow-ups once the procedure is complete.

Before the Retrieval

Before you even start the egg retrieval process, you will need to have blood drawn to make sure it’s a good idea to move forward with the procedure. Your doctor may also want your partner to have blood drawn, and male partners may be asked to offer a semen specimen. 

Since you want the best chance at having plenty of eggs for retrieval, you will take medication or shots before the procedure. This ensures that you will produce more than one egg during this cycle. Doctors will want to retrieve as many as they safely can to give you a better chance of becoming pregnant in the future.

The night before your egg retrieval procedure, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight. Tell your doctor what medications you regularly take so she can let you know if you need to discontinue them before the procedure.

The Procedure

Though you will be under general anesthesia when the eggs are retrieved, it’s still important to know what will happen. 

A transvaginal ultrasound will be inserted to find the follicles. Once they are identified, a needle is used to get to a follicle and pierce its wall. The egg is then removed from the follicle using suction. This can be done to retrieve as many eggs as you and your doctor decided on for this cycle.

After the Retrieval

The journey doesn’t end after the eggs are retrieved. Your eggs will be placed in an incubator, and a doctor will check to see how many are mature. Some may be frozen if that’s an option you’ve chosen. However, if you are moving forward with the IVF process, then an attempt to fertilize the eggs with your partner’s sperm will happen soon after retrieval.

Implantation of the embryos happens several days after retrieval, and for some women, there may even be more time between retrieval and transfer. 

After egg retrieval, you may be sore, tired, or experience a hormone crash from all the medication you took to prepare for the procedure. You may feel dizzy or slightly off after retrieval, but most symptoms tend to disappear in a matter of days. If you remain bloated, in pain, or bleeding, contact your doctor.

It’s also important to ask for medical help if any of your symptoms seem to be worsening.

Shaving Before Egg Retrieval

Some doctors will ask you to shave with a clean, new razor the night before your egg retrieval procedure as shaving your pubic hair will decrease your risk of infection.

Other centers may shave you during surgical prep, so be sure to ask a few days in advance so you’ll be prepared.

How Long Does Egg Retrieval Take?

Egg retrieval takes about 20 minutes depending on how many eggs are being retrieved. You will be in the recovery room for at least an hour after the retrieval to ensure you are feeling well enough to be released.

Does Egg Retrieval Hurt?

Since you will be under general anesthesia for egg retrieval, you won’t feel pain during the procedure. You may experience cramping when you wake up, but pain medication will be administered while you are in recovery. 

You may be uncomfortable for days after the surgery due to bloating or the follow-up pain from having an invasive procedure. Though this is normal, you should tell your doctor if it feels unmanageable.

How Long To Rest After Egg Retrieval?

You will rest in the recovery area after egg retrieval until your doctor decides it’s okay for you to go home. For the first week after egg retrieval, you won’t want to lift anything heavy or do any strenuous exercises. Your doctor will advise you on your limits regarding exercise, work, and sexual activity.

What To Avoid After Egg Retrieval

After egg retrieval, you need to give yourself time to recover. Some ways to do this are:

  • Don’t lift anything heavy. 
  • Don’t do strenuous exercise.
  • Don’t have sexual intercourse until your doctor says it’s safe.
  • Don’t forget to treat pain with painkillers or rest and heat.

How Many Eggs Are Retrieved During IVF?

The number varies depending on your specific situation, but between 10 and 14 eggs are usually retrieved during IVF. This increases the chance of at least one or two of those eggs being high quality.

What Is a Good Number of Eggs Retrieved by IVF?

There’s no magic number, but retrieving between 10 and 20 eggs means there is a better chance of pregnancy, especially as women age. However, if none of those eggs are quality, getting pregnant can still be a challenge.

IVF Number of Eggs Retrieved by Age

Since the chance of getting pregnant decreases as women get older, how many eggs are retrieved changes with age. 

AgeNumber of Eggs Retrieved
20-309
30-3510-12
35-3713-15
Over 3816

Hormone Crash After Egg Retrieval

You may experience some big feelings as your hormones try to regulate after egg retrieval. All the medication and shots taken to increase the chances of having many eggs to choose from can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and exhausted when the procedure is over. 

Your body and mind will regulate, but talk to your doctor if the hormone crash leaves you feeling hopeless or sad.

How Many Days After Egg Retrieval Is Embryo Transfer?

Retrieved eggs are generally transferred around five days after they are retrieved. Your doctor will work with you on the best time for transfer using knowledge of your case and results from tests he conducts.

Related Questions: 

How Many Eggs Are Fertilized in IVF?

Though every situation is different, around 70% of eggs are fertilized during IVF. Obviously, not all of these will lead to a baby. Your doctor will advise you on how many eggs to retrieve and implant to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

How Soon Can You Drink After Egg Retrieval?

If you’re talking about alcohol, it’s best not to drink at all during the IVF process. In fact, many doctors recommend you don’t consume alcohol before, during, or after egg retrieval since it can negatively impact the process during all of these stages.

Final Thoughts

Egg retrieval is one part of a long process when trying to become pregnant through IVF. Talk to your doctor about any questions you have, and take care of yourself every step of the way.

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