Road to fertility

Your guide to trying to conceive, fertility treatments, genetic testing and your path to pregnancy

What to Expect After Egg Retrieval

what to expect after egg retrieval

If you’re considering in vitro fertilization or egg freezing you may wonder what to expect after egg retrieval. Perhaps there’s a medical reason your doctor is suggesting fertility preservation, IVF or even embryo cryopreservation. Having your eggs retrieved may feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to anticipate, how you’ll feel physically or what the preparation, procedure, and recovery entails. In the below blog post, we’re going to offer an overview and some advice on what can help support you along your journey!

To Know What to Expect After Egg Retrieval, Here’s What’s Before It

Before an egg retrieval, a reproductive endocrinologist will prescribe hormone medications and a specific protocol based on your specific diagnosis or circumstance.  These hormones will stimulate your ovaries to increase in the number of follicles that will develop over a single cycle. You will have several appointments to monitor to size of your follicles (each follicle contains an egg). When your doctor believes the time is right (on average, clinics look for follicles the size of 16 mm), your doctor will give you what is referred to as a “trigger shot” and the egg retrieval will be scheduled. Then, using laparoscopic techniques and an ultrasound, a very thin needle is inserted into each follicle to retrieve the egg. Now, we can discuss what to expect after egg retrieval!

What to Expect After Egg Retrieval – Recovery, Monitoring and Possible Side Effects

During the actual egg retrieval process, you will be put under light sedation and it can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. While this is an outpatient procedure, what to expect after egg retrieval is to be taken to a recovery room so you can be monitored to ensure that it is safe to send you back home or back to your hotel room.. It’s typical to feel some discomfort and even cramping similar to the pain you feel during your period or PMS. You’ll be monitored for anything out of the ordinary and when your medical team feels you are doing well enough, you will be released to go home. Because egg retrieval is a relatively short procedure, the time in recovery is typically not very long either.

What to expect after egg retrieval in terms of heading home or going back to work is between you and your doctor. Some patients feel more comfortable heading home since they were given anesthesia and they are not sure exactly how their body will feel after their eggs are retrieved. Should you have any questions, you should speak to your doctor on that matter.

What to Expect After Egg Retrieval if You’re Doing Egg Freezing or IVF

If you’re doing egg freezing, what to expect after egg retrieval is that your eggs will be examined by an embryologist and then frozen using a process called, “vitrification”. This fast-freeze method keeps ice crystals from forming on your eggs so they have a better successful thaw rate. They are then stored for if and when you want to use them. If you do, you would employ IVF treatment when you’re ready.

If you’re doing IVF, what to expect after your egg retrieval depends on if you’re doing a “fresh” or “frozen” IVF cycle. If you’re doing a “fresh” IVF cycle, your eggs would be retrieved, fertilized with your husband, partner or donor’s sperm and then monitored in a lab. Your doctor would then determined which and when any developing embryos would be transferred to your uterus within the next few days.

When you do a freeze all cycle or you’re doing a Frozen Embryo Transfer “FET”, you have more options for testing. For example, in recent years, some doctors have had concerns about the receptivity of the uterine lining immediately following an egg retrieval. Their logic has been that after going through the process of taking hormone medications used to stimulate egg production for IVF, it may have indirectly impacted the development of the woman’s uterine lining, which could affect the implantation rate.  There is a test called the Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) test, which may reduce the risk for implantation failure by establishing the best timing for a frozen embryo transfer.

Two other genetic tests you may be offered as part of your fertility treatment are Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) or  Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS).  Patients may choose to have embryo testing to confirm that the embryo has a normal number of chromosomes or see if their embryos contain a certain genetic mutation that can result in disease. Testing of the embryo is done by taking a small biopsy at the blastocyst stage. The embryos are frozen using the vitrification process after the biopsy and are later transferred once the results are available, confirming the health of the embryo being transferred and decreasing the chance of miscarriage.What to expect after egg retrieval if you employ either of these tests is a regroup with your physician to discuss the results and make a plan for a transfer or another egg retrieval based on the results.  

While it’s understandable to be intimidated by fertility treatment and what to expect after egg retrieval, you have a team of experts who are there to support you as well as resources, reproductive technology and your own patient advocacy skills to help you along the way!

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