In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a highly successful fertility treatment. IVF is a multi-step procedure that oversees the stages of conception to bypass common sources of infertility and increase the chance of pregnancy. One part of IVF treatment that patients tend to have questions about is egg retrieval.
IVF egg retrieval involves the collection of multiple mature eggs, which are fertilized with the intent of producing healthy embryos. Here, the fertility doctors at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health review the egg retrieval process and answer questions about what to expect during egg retrieval for IVF that are commonly asked by our Scottsdale, AZ, and Gilbert, AZ, patients as their treatment approaches.
The goal of egg retrieval is to collect eggs that can be fertilized for IVF treatment. Fertilized eggs ideally turn into viable embryos, but that is not always the case. The more eggs that are able to be collected and mixed with sperm, the greater the chance of fertilization, and the larger the selection of embryos for embryo transfer.
To maximize the number of eggs that can be collected during an egg retrieval procedure, patients prepare for treatment by undergoing ovarian stimulation. During ovarian stimulation women receive injections of fertility medication. The hormones in these medicines essentially kick-start the ovaries and encourage the production of multiple mature eggs.
Many women feel anxious about the egg retrieval process, but it is a fast and straightforward procedure. The patient lays back on an exam table with her feet in stirrups, just as she would for a regular gynecological exam. Using ultrasound guidance, a thin needle is inserted into the vagina and through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries. The needle is inserted into each individual ovarian follicle and, using light suction, eggs are drawn into the needle so they can be collected for IVF treatment.
One of the most common questions we hear from our Scottsdale patients is, “is egg retrieval painful?” The good news is that the procedure is completely comfortable for the patient. We administer a light anesthetic at the beginning of treatment. This level of sedation allows patients to breathe on their own throughout their procedure, but prevents them from feeling any pain as the eggs are collected. Most do not even remember any part of treatment once their procedure is complete.
The number of eggs that are collected during an egg retrieval procedure may vary slightly for each patient. The success of egg retrieval depends largely on the patient’s ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs that she has remaining. On average, we are able to collect between 15 and 20 eggs during a single egg retrieval procedure.
Most women recover from egg retrieval fairly quickly. We often recommend taking things easy the day of the procedure, but most patients are able to resume their usual activities just a day or two after treatment. Possible side effects of egg retrieval include cramping, bloating, and light spotting, but none of these should last more than a few days.
If you are considering IVF and have questions about what to expect during egg retrieval for IVF or the other stages of IVF treatment, the fertility doctors at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health would be happy to provide you with more information. You can send us a message online, or call (480) 588-0423 at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation.