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IVF Egg Retrieval
During the in vitro fertilization process, the fertility doctor stimulates the production of additional eggs in the ovarian follicles with a hormone regimen and then retrieves the eggs before ovulation occurs.
Retrieval is usually scheduled between 34 and 36 hours following the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injection.
A lighter version of general anesthesia simulates sleep and makes the procedure painless. The doctor uses a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a hollow needle through the back wall of the vagina up to the ovaries. Then, the doctor aspirates fluid containing the mature follicles using the needle; the eggs separate from the follicle, and the fluid with the eggs is transferred to a collection tube that is brought to the laboratory for fertilization.
Each follicle usually contains a single egg, which is not visible on the ultrasound. The fluid in the test tube is inspected under a microscope in the laboratory to find the egg(s).
With IVF hormonal stimulation, some of the follicles may not be large enough for the doctor to remove the egg. The percentage of eggs retrieved varies with factors such as age, egg reserves, and follicle size. In a single procedure, an average of between eight and 15 eggs may be collected. Prior to the procedure, an ultrasound can estimate the number of follicles that might be retrieved.
If live sperm is being used, the patient’s partner or donor will come to the facility at the same time and produce a semen sample in a collection room, or may produce the sample at home.
The egg retrieval procedure usually takes about 20 minutes, and a woman may leave the facility after an hour of recovery. Some women may experience residual side effects, such as nausea, from the anesthesia, and cramping and spotty bleeding is also possible. After the day of the procedure, women may resume normal daily activities.