Egg Retrieval: The Patient's Perspective
By Francis Polansky, M.D.
The fact that human eggs (oocytes) can be obtained from the ovaries with relative ease is truly remarkable.
In 1987, the Bay IVF team was the first in California to start retrieving oocytes outside of a hospital setting. Over the ensuing years, we have performed many thousands of egg retrieval procedures, all clinic-based and without the need for general anesthesia. The technique of oocyte retrievals has been perfected, and it now usually takes only about five to ten minutes to complete the procedure.
It is normal and relatively common to feel apprehensive about the egg retrieval. Once done, most patients agree that this was not such a big deal, and, if needed, they could repeat it any number of times.
The preparation for the egg retrieval starts the night before: You will be asked not to eat or drink after midnight. On the morning of your procedure, you will take Triazolam (relaxation pill) about an hour before arriving at our clinic.
Your oocyte retrieval appointment will be scheduled an hour before the start of the procedure. When you arrive, your partner will collect a semen sample unless you have brought it with you from home.
One of our IVF nurse coordinators will weigh you, take your vital signs, and bring you to the procedure room. You will change into a hospital gown, and an iv line will be started. The IV fluid will be the route where your pain medications will be given.
One of our embryologists will confirm your identity, and you will be ready for the egg retrieval to begin. During the egg retrieval procedure, your partner will be asked to stay in the waiting area.
Dr. Polansky will administer your relaxation and pain medication into the iv line. You will start feeling a bit lightheaded and very relaxed (twilight anesthesia). Some patients may fall asleep, but it is also common to remain awake to view the egg retrieval procedure on an ultrasound screen.
With ultrasound guidance, Dr. Polansky will retrieve as many eggs from your ovaries as possible. This is done by passing the tip of a thin needle through the top of the vagina into the ovaries and aspirating the follicular fluid that contains the eggs. After the procedure, it will be approximately 20 minutes before the embryologists will report how many eggs were retrieved.
When the egg retrieval is finished, your partner will join you in the procedure room.
The medications used for the oocyte retrieval are short-acting, and by the time you leave the clinic (about 45 to 60 minutes after the procedure), they will be out of your system. You may have some mild to moderate abdominal cramping after the procedure and can take Tylenol for comfort.
We will call you later in the day to check how you are doing and whether you need any additional help from us.
The following morning, Dr. Polansky will call to discuss how many eggs fertilized (how many embryos you have) and what the next step in your treatment will be.