Common Questions about Egg Retrieval Answered (by a Woman Who’s Been Through it Three Times)

When getting ready for my first IVF, I wasn’t scared about the daily injections, the medical exams or the blood draws needed to check my hormone levels. Heck, no, all of these seemed like a walk in the park (ok, I’m exaggerating but you know what I mean). The one thing that terrified me to death was the egg retrieval.

It’s normal to have questions about egg retrieval because it’s an invasive procedure. When going through IVF for the second and third times, this was one of the issues that I discussed the most with other ladies who were going through the ordeal for the first time.

If you’re about to undergo IVF stimulation, you probably have some inquiries about egg retrieval day, as well. I’ll try to give some adequate information, as well as my personal experiences.

Does Egg Retrieval Hurt?

Of all questions about egg retrieval, this is probably the most common one.

After all, having a long needle inserted through your vagina for the purpose of aspiring follicles and collecting eggs doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.

The good news is that I don’t really know whether egg retrieval hurts. In both clinics, the procedure was performed under general anesthesia. This is how it occurs in most places. I’ve heard about a clinic or two that don’t rely on complete sedation but this practice is the exception rather than the rule.

On the day of egg retrieval, you’ll be taken to the room where the procedure is performed. You’ll sit on a chair or a table – the typical setup for an ob-gyn exam. Your legs will probably be strapped because there’s a risk of sliding off the table when the anesthesia kicks in.

The anesthesiologist will ask questions about your weight – be honest! The question is needed to determine the exact amount of the medication. You’ll also be asked whether you’re allergic to medications.

Next thing you remember – the procedure is done and you’re off to recovery.

Is Egg Retrieval Dangerous?

Egg retrieval is considered a minor intervention, which is why in most cases you will be allowed to go home on the same day. Just like all other interventions, however, it carries certain risks.

There’s a small risk of infections or organs getting punctured during the procedure. The experience of the professional responsible for the egg retrieval will be quite determining for the minimization of such risks.

Another risk could stem from the risk of anesthesia. Unfortunately, I had a first-hand experience with this one.

Some women, especially the ones who have a big number of follicles and who are kept under sedation for a longer period of time, may have an adverse reaction to the sedative. I had intense nausea and even vomiting. I was dizzy and weak for the entire day of the egg retrieval. Luckily, the side effect was entirely dissipated by the next day.

How Fast will I Recover?

This is another quite important egg retrieval question. The answer is strictly individual but most women are back on their feet pretty fast.

Some cramping and slight spotting is possible on the day of the egg retrieval and the next few days. The pain is similar to what you experience on your period. I’ve heard of ladies feeling more intense pain but luckily, my aches after the procedure were manageable.

The third time I had IVF, I was prescribed anti-pain medications. I was allowed to take up to three of them per day. Luckily, I didn’t need to take medicines. I only took one on the day after the transfer because I had to travel internationally.

How Long will the Whole Thing Take?

The egg retrieval itself lasts only minutes. The first time I had it done, it was 15 minutes from start to finish because I had only eight follicles. The third time, it was about an hour till I got back to hubby, who was waiting for me in the recovery room.

After the egg retrieval itself, you’ll be kept in the hospital or clinic for a few additional hours.

The purpose of this monitoring is to make sure that you’re ok, there’s no internal bleeding and you’re not experiencing an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. If you’re fine, you’ll probably be discharged within two hours.

You’re advised to take it easy on the day of the egg retrieval. The next day, you’ll be free to go back to work if you’re feeling fine.

What can I do to Feel More Comfortable after ER?

There are a few simple things that made me feel more comfortable after the egg retrieval was done.

Number one is choose your clothes wisely. I can’t stress enough on the importance of this one. Tight jeans and anything else that presses against your belly is a big no-no.

The reason is simple – you will get some bloating after the retrieval. In addition, your ovaries are still huge and a bit sore from the procedure. Anything that presses against them could contribute to some pain.

Number two is eat lightly on the day of the retrieval and the next one. Your ovaries are huge and you don’t want to have anything pressing against them. In addition, there may be some risk of experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation and a heavy meal will only make things worse. You may want to opt for electrolyte liquids, protein-based meals and small portions.

Will I Know the Outcome of the Procedure on the Day of Egg Retrieval?

This is the big one, isn’t it?

All three times I went through IVF, I was told about the number of eggs collected immediately after I came out of sedation. In addition, you may see the embryologist who will tell you whether IVF or ICSI will be performed, depending on the quality of the sperm sample collected during the day.

You will usually get information about the number of eggs that have been fertilized on the next day. By day three, you should have information about embryo development and grade.

Can You have Egg Retrieval if You’ve Got a Cold

A final question I want to address and an important one. Depending on the season that you start your stimulation during, there may be some risk of coming down with a cold. For many women, this is an incredibly scary experience because it could signify cancellation of the cycle.

Minor colds characterized by sore throat and a runny nose aren’t a big problem. Usually, the retrieval will go through in such situations.

The one instance in which the procedure may be canceled is a situation characterized by fever. If you have a high fever, it will be dangerous to go under anesthesia. The anesthesiologist will typically advise against the ER in this situation because you will be endangered. Here’s a bit more about cold symptoms and having anesthesia.

Whole taking meds during your stimulation isn’t a good idea, you can rely on paracetamol for the purpose of controlling your fever. Natural remedies and immunostimulants could also be utilized for the purpose of recovering faster and being fine on retrieval day.

Are there any additional questions about egg retrieval that I haven’t answered? Has your experience differed from mine? Please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments and I’ll address your inquiry asap.

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