It’s time to prepare for your IVF egg retrieval recovery! Your journey to baby has been long and challenging – but you’re not done yet. This post covers some crucial items to get you through the days following your retrieval. The ultimate goal – comfort!
The time has finally come! You’ve gone through weeks of hormone injections, countless blood tests, more ultrasounds than you can keep track of, a whole lot of mental preparation, and your fertility specialist has given you the go-ahead to take your HCG trigger shot! Your IVF Egg Retrieval is just 36 hours away. Hallelujah!
While this is SUCH an exciting time, because, well, you are that much closer to becoming a mama, it is also understandably a little nerve-wracking. Not only are you about to find out just how many viable eggs you will be working with, but your body is about to go through some serious stress.
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Other helpful IVF articles:
– What to Do After an Embryo Transfer to Increase Success
– 8 Positive Signs After Embryo Transfer
– 9 Tips for Easier PIO Shots in IVF
– Tips for Staying Organized During IVF
– Is IVF painful?: Feedback from a Two-time IVF Mama
Egg retrievals are invasive, and while every woman’s recovery time is different, you should plan to take it easy after your procedure. Especially if you plan to have a fresh embryo transfer (FET) three or five days post-retrieval. If you’re feeling confused or like you’re lacking information ahead of your retrieval, check out our list of questions to ask your fertility doctor.
If you’re in the preliminary IVF research phase, we recommend starting with Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor at Your Consultation. If you’re in the early days of hormone injections in your IVF cycle, be sure to check out What to Expect on IVF Egg Retrieval Day to best prepare you for the process.
What is the recovery time after egg retrieval?
I’ll be honest: my first IVF egg retrieval recovery was pretty rough. I was tired, very sore, and it took a good three to four days before I felt like myself again. My second wasn’t much better, but I was more prepared mentally, and had an my arsenal of tools ready for when I got home.
However, everyone’s experience will vary. Immediately following the procedure, when you first wake up, you may feel nothing other than a little grogginess from the anesthesia. You may also be a little disoriented. Any initial pain or discomfort will be managed by your nurses with a heating pad.
While the procedure itself only takes 20-30 minutes, it’s normal to feel side effects for one to four days, with the first and second being the most uncomfortable. Side effects may include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Vaginal spotting
- Discomfort or soreness in the vaginal area
IVF Egg Retrieval Recovery Must-Haves
During both of my recoveries, there were a handful of things that really helped make me more comfortable. I hope my IVF egg retrieval must-haves help your experience as well!
Electrolytes are a must post IVF egg retrieval. A MUST! Gatorade, Pedialyte bottles, Pedialyte Powders, or any other electrolyte-rich drinks will be an integral part of your diet when you aren’t sucking down plain water. Stock. Up. You may never want to drink Gatorade again, but hey, it works!
IVF egg retrievals cause bloat – serious bloat – which you may already have a taste of from your hormone injections. I looked about six months pregnant after my retrieval and it took days to go away. High-sodium drinks help that immensely. They also help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
Post egg retrieval, you will have cramps, you will be sore, and you may feel tight and bloated. If you are used to having uncomfortable periods, or if you were sore from your hormone injections, you’re already familiar with the wonders of the electric heating pad. Well, the heating pad is about to become your sidekick for the next few days!
I experienced a combination of abdomen and low back pain. The low back pain could have been a result of only being able to lay on my back comfortably when I am normally a stomach sleeper. Adding a little heat while I was catching up on my Netflix shows helped to both relax me and relieve the pain and cramps.
A heating pad is also super helpful for making your PIO shots a little less uncomfortable.
You can also ease your cramps with disposable heating pads if you aren’t able to access an outlet. They offer 8 hours of pain relief by increasing blood flow and oxygen to accelerate healing and relieve pain.
You may be sent home from your procedure with a couple of crack-and-shake heating bags, but those will only last a little while and will only offer so much coverage. Pack one of these for the drive home and you will be much more comfortable, especially if you live far from your facility!
Constipation is a *real* problem post-egg retrieval. Between the sedatives given during the procedure, and the progesterone shots that you will be taking for the next eight to ten weeks, there should be no surprise that you will be backed up. Also, pushing will be much harder due to the invasive nature of the procedure.
Take a stool softener starting the night BEFORE your egg retrieval. Not the morning of, not after you’ve already had the procedure. I repeat… the NIGHT BEFORE. Trust me, you’ll need it.
In addition to a stool softener, I would also recommend taking a prebiotic fiber supplement such as Benefiber. While there are plenty of options out there, I recommend Benefiber because it is flavorless and doesn’t have a yucky, thick consistency when mixed with water. There are others that create this awful goopy texture that is so hard to choke down, whereas this one gives you the added boost of fiber that you need without it feeling like a task.
6. Salty Foods
If ever there was a time to dine on sodium-rich cuisines like your favorite Chinese takeout, it’s now. The idea is that high sodium will help draw out any retained water, aka, help that bloated belly. And, like electrolytes, salty foods can help those at risk of OHSS.
Support is a must during and after an IVF egg retrieval. This experience (from starting the hormone injections, to your retrieval, all the way through your transfer and the continued progesterone injections) can be physically and emotionally taxing. After your procedure, you’re going to need a break! No matter if you are going through this process with your partner or you are doing it solo, be sure to have someone to help you out.
If they can take on the bulk of your household chores, cook, and take care of you while you rest, that would be ideal. If you happen to have an easier recovery, take the help anyway. After everything you’ve been through, and with all that’s ahead, you deserve some rest!
Unfortunately, at the time of this post, many are forced to go to all of their fertility appointments solo due to the pandemic. Including egg retrievals and transfers! It feels like highway robbery. If this is you, be sure to have your support in place when you are ready to be discharged from your clinic. Your doctor will likely insist that you have a ride to and from your appointment anyway!
8. Loose, Comfy Pants
On the day of egg retrieval, opt for loose-fitting cotton pants or a comfortable dress instead of jeans or ultra-tight leggings. No need to add extra pressure to your lower belly when you’ll already be feeling sore!
I am partial to these everyday lounge joggers, which are lightweight, stretchy, and super-soft… and perfect to wear throughout pregnancy and postpartum. I’ve worn them for both of my egg retrievals and throughout my recovery. If I could have a pair in every color, I would!
This one goes without saying, but as we have emphasized already, you aren’t going to be feeling so hot. So, we definitely recommend having some Tylenol on-hand. Even though you will be asleep during the procedure, you will wake up feeling what went on downtown.
Tylenol is usually the only pain medication recommended during IVF (and pregnancy) because its main ingredient is Acetaminophen. Medications like Ibuprofen aren’t normally recommended because there may be a link to birth defects. Since your entire goal is to get pregnant, might as well start doing it the right way now!
Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+, your favorite book… pick your poison. You will be on the couch or in bed for a few days, so you will need some entertainment! Don’t let anyone else snag that remote, this is your time.
11. Water Bottle
In addition to all of those electrolyte drinks, you should also plan to guzzle down a whole lot of plain old water. This is particularly crucial if you are having a three- or five-day fresh embryo transfer. Fluids will keep you hydrated, which we all know is important for your health in general. But did you know that hydration is helpful in keeping your uterus ready for an embryo?
12. A Pillow for the Ride Home
Some women have to travel an hour plus to their fertility clinic! If this is you, leave your favorite pillow in the car so you can get some shut-eye on the drive home. Just make sure your ride knows to stop for some french fries on the way back.
Best of luck, you got this!
Been here before? What is your favorite IVF egg retrieval recovery item? Comment below!
Other IVF articles you may like:
9 Tips for Easier PIO Shots in IVF
What to Expect on IVF Egg Retrieval Day
What to Do After an Embryo Transfer to Increase Success