Eggs are removed from the ovaries approximately 36 hours after taking the hCG injection. If the patient regularly take any medications (allergy medication for example) they should talk with their doctor or nurse about taking the medication on the day of the egg retrieval. The patient will be asked to not eat or drink as of midnight before the egg retrieval. During the egg retrieval procedure, they will receive a mild sedative through an IV, a small tube in a vein in the arm. This is a form of light general anesthesia where they will breathe on their own but will not feel the procedure nor remember it afterwards. After they are sedated, the vagina is washed with a sterile water solution. A needle is placed under ultrasound guidance into the ovary and fluid, and eggs from the follicles in the ovaries are collected into a test tube and sent to the IVF lab. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, and discomfort is generally minimal.
Most women are able to go home within two hours of the egg retrieval. We make sure someone is available to take the patient home, since they cannot drive a car after sedation or anesthesia. Recovery after egg retrieval is usually quite rapid. Some patient may experience some pelvic heaviness, soreness, or cramping. Spotting is normal, but should be less than a regular menstrual period.
The following recommendations will ease the recovery and prepare the body for next steps:
- Treat discomfort with a heating pad and rest
- Ask the physician to recommend pain medication if discomfort continues
- Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise, as ovaries are still enlarged during this time and may be tender. Gentle walking is fine.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine
- Avoid tub baths, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, swimming or immersing oneself in water from the time of the egg retrieval until after the pregnancy test.
- Avoid medication except that which the doctor or nurse has asked the patient to take
- Refrain from penetrative sexual activity in or around the vagina from this time up until one week after the embryo transfer
- Do not use douches, spermicides or vaginal creams during this time