Having a woman’s eggs retrieved are part of both the in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing process. However, you may not know what the steps are leading up to the egg retrieval day, what to expect on the day of retrieval, how recovery will feel, or what you can do to help the success of your overall fertility treatment. Wilcox Fertility strives to create empowered patients so, below, we help answer these questions.
Whether it’s for an IVF cycle or to preserve your fertility, there is a process that must happen before you can get to egg retrieval day. Dr. Wilcox will order some preliminary tests to look at your hormones and reproductive health.
In women, we will review your ovarian reserve and ovarian function, and typically perform an ultrasound to check your uterus and ovaries for any abnormalities. If you are actively trying to conceive and have experienced more than one miscarriage, a fertility specialist can also order specific tests to help provide insight into possible explanations for your losses. We can also recommend tests as part of a fertility treatment plan to help decrease the chance of miscarriage, such as undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A), which can help reduce the possibility of having a miscarriage.
While at your fertility consultation, Dr. Wilcox will review your medical history and any previous diagnostic test results with you and recommend a personalized fertility treatment plan. An IVF protocol entails prescribing hormone medications and a specific protocol based on your particular diagnosis or circumstance. These hormones will stimulate your ovaries to increase the number of follicles that develop over a single cycle. You will have several appointments to monitor the size of your follicles (each follicle contains an egg). When Dr. Wilcox believes your eggs are mature, he will give you what is known as a “trigger shot” and the egg retrieval day will be scheduled.
Egg retrieval day occurs approximately 36 hours after the trigger shot is administered. Using a laparoscope, a very thin needle will be inserted into each follicle to retrieve your eggs.
You will be put under light sedation and monitored closely by an anesthesiologist. The procedure can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. This is an outpatient procedure done in our on-site surgery center, RSA. Following the retrieval, you will be taken to our recovery bay and monitored to make sure you are secure and comfortable enough to be released. It’s typical to feel some discomfort and even cramping similar to what you feel during your period. You’ll be closely monitored and when our nurses feel you are ready, you will be discharged home for rest.
In terms of what happens after the eggs are retrieved, it all depends on what you are pursuing. If you’re doing a “fresh” IVF cycle, your eggs would be retrieved, fertilized, and then monitored in our IVF lab. Our highly experienced embryologists would then determine which and when any developing embryos would be transferred to your uterus (or gestational carrier) within the next few days.
As mentioned earlier, if Dr. Wilcox recommends genetic testing such as PGT, or if you’re doing a “freeze all cycle” (which is when all embryos are frozen and used at a later date), you have more options for additional testing options. Please visit our “Freeze All” page to review this process.
If you’re retrieving your eggs to preserve your fertility, they would be examined by an embryologist and then frozen (cryopreserved) and stored for when you are ready to use them. When this time comes, the eggs would be carefully thawed in the IVF Laboratory for use in a cycle.
We hope you feel more aware of what to expect before, during, and after as well as some options that can help provide some extra assistance in the success of your fertility treatment. However, when you are a patient at Wilcox Fertility, we encourage you to ask any additional questions along the way! We are here to support you not just on egg retrieval day but throughout your entire experience.