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How are Eggs Retrieved in IVF?

You know the goal of taking those fertility drugs is to produce a good number of eggs for your IVF cycle. But once those eggs are matured and ready to go, how are they actually retrieved?

Your egg retrieval process is usually scheduled about 36 hours after the hCG “trigger shot” is administered to stimulate ovulation. At your egg retrieval appointment, you will be given a lighter version of general anesthesia to help sedate you.

Your fertility doctor will use a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a hollow needle up through the vagina to the ovaries, where they will aspirate the follicles to retrieve the eggs. Light suction will remove the fluid and eggs from each mature follicle. The fluid is then inspected in the lab to find the eggs, some of which are mature and ready for the next step of insemination or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

There are a lot of variables that come into play in determining how many eggs will be retrieved, but generally, one cycle is expected to yield between eight and 15 eggs.

The entire egg retrieval process lasts about 20 minutes, and you can usually leave the office around an hour later. You might feel some side effects like nausea (from the anesthesia), cramping, or light spotting, but you can resume your normal activities the next day.

Want to learn more about the IVF Process? Check out this video where Dr. John Nichols, a fertility doctor with Piedmont Reproductive Endocrinology Group (PREG) explains the steps of an IVF cycle.

Click image to play.

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