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egg retrieval process

What to expect at your egg retrieval

May 19, 2021

Egg donation has many benefits for donors and intended parents alike, from financial compensation and heartfelt gifts to allowing a loving couple to bring a child into the world. 

And for the loving women who chose to embark on their first egg donation journey, the medical jargon, appointments, fertility medication, screenings, and more can be overwhelming. 

As the first egg donation agency in the country, we’re often asked about the egg retrieval process and what to expect. Here’s everything to know about the egg retrieval process! 

What is an egg retrieval? 

The egg retrieval is performed during in vitro fertilization used to extract eggs from a woman’s ovary. Once removed, fertility clinics can fertilize your eggs with sperm to create embryos, then transfer those embryos into the intended mother or surrogate’s uterus. The number of eggs produced depends on many factors, including your age and ovarian reserve. 

Egg retrieval calendar example

Below is a templated example of what your egg retrieval treatment calendar may look like. Please note that the medications and schedule will vary depending on your unique treatment plan. 

egg retrieval calendar

What to expect before your egg retrieval procedure

Before your egg retrieval, your egg donation agency and fertility doctor will prepare you with everything you need for the upcoming procedure. This includes all of your appointments, travel logistics, medication administration, and anything else necessary to set you up for an excellent retrieval procedure. 

Note that you’ll have appointments leading up to the egg retrieval. This may include, but is not limited to, ultrasounds and bloodwork to determine the number and size of follicles present in your ovaries. Your pre-retrieval treatment will be crafted by your doctor uniquely for you, so every plan looks different. 

Timing is everything when it comes to your egg retrieval procedure. You’re ready for your egg retrieval when: 

  • your leading follicles reach 18 - 20 mm (average diameter) in size 
  • your estradiol hormone (E2) level increases

When this occurs, your doctor will advise you or your partner to self-administer the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injections in the evenings, between seven and 11 at night. 

Thirty-six hours after the hCG injection, your doctor will schedule the egg retrieval procedure. If you self-administer the injections on a Monday at 9:00 PM, the egg retrieval procedure will occur on Wednesday at 9:00 AM. 

Note: the evening before your egg retrieval, please abstain from any food or beverages after midnight. 

The day of your egg retrieval procedure 

Arrive at least 30 minutes before the egg retrieval procedure's scheduled time. 

The egg retrieval procedure is a 10-30 minute process of removing eggs from the ovaries, typically under general anesthesia. Your doctor will perform the procedure under ultrasound guidance, similar to the vaginal ultrasound examination (follicular monitoring).

egg-retrieval-process

Once the anesthesia has been administered, your doctor will guide a needle attached to an ultrasound probe through the guide. Each follicle is then punctured, and the fluid (along with the egg floating in it) is aspirated. Once this fluid is sent to the laboratory, your embryologist searches for, isolates, and then freezes or fertilizes the eggs. Here's what this actually looks like: 

What to expect after your egg retrieval 

10 to 15 minutes after the egg retrieval, you’ll wake up from general anesthesia and your dedicated nurse will monitor you in the recovery area. Depending on how you feel after, your nurses can provide you with pain medications as needed. 

In most cases, you can leave an hour after the procedure or when your anesthesiologist discharges you. Before you go, your nurse will check up on you to ensure everything is okay and give you instructions on what to do when you arrive home.

You may feel some levels of discomfort for a few hours following the egg retrieval. To combat this, you can take Tylenol (acetaminophen) as needed every four hours. If you feel nauseous, this should dissipate within a few hours.

Some donors will notice a slight increase in their weight days after egg retrieval, usually resulting from water retention and other factors. However, if you gain more than five pounds, call your doctor immediately. 10 to 12 days after the egg retrieval procedure, you should start your period! 

Learn more about becoming an egg donor 

The egg retrieval procedure is one of many steps on your path to help others make their dreams of a family come true. If you’re interested in more information about egg donation, we encourage you to get in touch. 

Apply to become an egg donor 

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