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If you’re reading this post, chances are you are preparing for your first egg retrieval day. Congrats! I know you have come a long way to get to this point. While there is nothing easy about undergoing fertility treatment, my hope is that by sharing what I learned from my own experience, you will be able to approach yours feeling as prepared as possible.
In this article, we will review how to prepare for egg retrieval day, the egg retrieval process, and what to expect after egg retrieval. After all, you’ve come this far! It’s best to approach the day you’ve been waiting for with as much knowledge of what to expect as possible. The more you know, right?
But first, let’s go over the basics.
What is an Egg Retrieval?
An Egg Retrieval is a key procedure during the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. After several days of hormone injections, and many visits to the fertility clinic to monitor how follicles are responding to the injections, a woman’s mature eggs are collected from her ovaries to be fertilized by sperm in a laboratory.
If you are in the early stages of your fertility process and just learning about your treatment plan, take a look at our recommended Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor at Your Consultation and How to Improve Egg Quality for IVF. It’s crucial to be armed with knowledge, and to have your body prepared for this process!
But what day of your IVF cycle is egg retrieval? In a typical stimulated cycle, retrieval will take place around day 14. However, timelines can fluctuate depending on the strength of your stimulants and how your follicles are responding to the injections.
Day Before Egg Retrieval
Yesterday (two days before egg retrieval) you will have taken your human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) trigger shot – the one you’ve been waiting for! A trigger shot is used for both IVF and IUI and is scheduled 36 hours ahead of your procedure. This shot tells your ovaries to release your mature eggs (ovulation). I took Pregnyl. You may use Lupron if you’re at risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The timing of your trigger shot is crucial, so be sure you take it exactly when your doctor or nurse tells you to!
The day before your egg retrieval will be all about making sure you have your IVF Egg Retrieval Recovery Essentials for the next few days. If you haven’t collected your comfort items, your snacks and hydration, your over-the-counter medications, and your entertainment, do it now!
I’ll be honest: the procedure can and likely will take a toll on you, and you nay need a few days to recover in order to feel like yourself again. And, you are likely planning to be there bright and early in the morning. Better to get what you need ready now because you certainly won’t want to tomorrow! Make a list if you need to. My biggest day-before suggestion? Take that stool softener. Yup, trust me on that one.
IVF Egg Retrieval Day – Preparation
On egg retrieval day, you will probably be asked to arrive an hour or so before you’re scheduled to begin. You will change into a gown, socks, and a hairnet, have your vitals taken, be hooked up to a saline IV, sign a lot of paperwork, and spend time with nurses who will prepare you for your procedure.
During this time, you will also get a visit from your anesthesiologist who will discuss any previous experience you may have had with anesthesia. Your fertility doctor will also stop by to review your final follicle numbers, explain what they will do during the procedure, and remind you that everything will go smoothly!
Note: It’s important to remember that if you are a patient at a larger fertility clinic, your personal reproductive endocrinologist may not be the one to perform your egg retrieval. At my facility, there were quite a lot of doctors who worked on rotation, so my procedure was conducted by someone I had not met before. He was very nice and came highly recommended by peers, so I, fortunately, felt comfortable with the plan. Just keep this in mind!
Egg Retrieval Procedure
When the time comes, your nurse will guide you and your IV to the surgery room. There will be several people present to prepare you.
You will climb on the table, put your feet in stirrups, and have electrodes stuck to your chest so they can monitor your vitals. Don’t worry, the nurses have the utmost discretion and will cover your goods up so you don’t feel too exposed before you go under. Your doctor may start cleaning you while you are awake, or they may do it after you have been put to sleep.
Next, the anesthesiologist that you met earlier will put a mask over your nose and mouth to administer the anesthesia. They will probably have you count, but good luck making it past five! The next thing you know, you will be waking up in your recovery room.
How long does the egg retrieval procedure take? The procedure itself is much faster than you probably expect! After you are put under sedation, it will only take about 15-30 minutes, depending on how many mature eggs you have.
What to Expect After Egg Retrieval – at the Clinic
Once you wake up in the recovery room, a nurse will monitor you to make sure you aren’t having an adverse response to the surgery or anesthesia. Your nurse or embryologist will also let you know how many eggs were retrieved during your procedure.
You’ll be given time, snacks, and something to drink until you are ready to sit up and get dressed. They will also give you some basic post-op take-home instructions as well as some one-use heating packets to use on your lower abdomen at home.
I recovered for about 30-40 minutes before they contacted my husband to let him know that I would be ready for pick up shortly. If you are doing this during the pandemic, they will probably walk or roll you to your car since your support person likely was not allowed inside with you.
You may or may not feel cramps at this time – I didn’t start to feel anything until I was heading home.
What to Expect After Egg Retrieval – at Home
Egg retrieval recovery really varies by individual, but you should 100% plan to do nothing but rest on the day of. The procedure is invasive and you will experience some discomfort, so, if you can, I would recommend taking the following day off of work as well. If you prepared by gathering your post-retrieval essentials, the next few days should be much easier. Whether it’s the day of, or the days following, at some point, you will wonder how to get rid of bloating after the egg retrieval. We go over this on our essentials list as well.
On the day of your surgery, you should be getting a call from your fertility doctor or their nurse to review how many eggs were collected during the procedure and to confirm your tentative embryo transfer date and time if you’re having a fresh embryo transfer. After that, the number of updates you get will depend on your clinic! Mine called me the following day to tell me how many eggs successfully fertilized, and then I didn’t hear from them again until the day before my 5-day FET to tell me how many embryos made it to that stage.
Note: They say you should expect your numbers to be cut in half at each stage, so don’t be alarmed if the number of embryos you have left doesn’t match the number of eggs retrieved.
How Many Days Between Egg Retrieval and Embryo Transfer?
If you are having a fresh embryo transfer, you will either be back on day three or day five. A day five blastocyst transfer is typically considered to have more favorable outcomes.