A Guide to Egg Retrieval

For women going through in-vitro fertilization, the egg retrieval process is always met with a little hesitation. Because it's considered a “surgery,” many patients are worried when coming in for their appointment. However, the entire procedure is incredibly fast, efficient, and virtually painless.

Egg retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require any external cuts or stitches. Though we require having a friend or loved one pick you up following your appointment, you’ll feel back to normal by the next day. Complications of egg retrieval are rare, and the procedure only takes about 15-minutes to complete and the patient is completely sedated throughout the entire process.


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Preparation for egg retrieval will largely consist of your injection schedules, ultrasounds, and blood tests. You’ll go through several different injections to stimulate the ovaries during IVF. Some of the main medications you’ll take include:

  • Ovarian stimulation medications. These medications consist of the luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which work together to stimulate your homes. During IVF, your doctor will work to prepare your body to release more than one egg at a time. This will allow multiple eggs to be pulled during egg retrieval. 
  • Oocyte maturation medication. This medication includes human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone, which helps the eggs maturation process. 
  • Uterine lining medication. In order to strengthen the lining of your uterus and prepare it for the embryo transfer, progesterone supplements are given on the day of egg retrieval. 
  • Prevention of premature ovulation medication. This combination of hormones and medications ensures that eggs are not released before they should be. 


        During the morning of your egg retrieval appointment, work to ensure that you’re pampered following the retrieval. Book a trusted ride home, relax to calm your nerves, and move any work or appointments to the following day. If you live hours away from the clinic, you might want to consider booking a hotel to minimize driving after your retrieval. 

        The Procedure


        After going through the first steps of your IVF treatment, your ovaries (hopefully) will be filled with healthy, viable follicles ready to be retrieved. To locate these follicles, the doctor will use an ultrasound. A small needle attached to a catheter will be inserted into the vaginal wall, which is then carefully guided to your healthy follicles.  

        Once located through the ultrasound, a light suction is used to remove the eggs. This is the exciting part! Each egg is kept safely in a test tube and passed off to your embryologist. These eggs will be used to make your baby. 

        Once the needle is taken out from your vaginal wall, there may be some slight bleeding from your ovaries. This is normal. To control this, the doctor will either apply pressure or apply a cauterizing agent. No stitches are required following your egg retrieval procedure. 

        After the Procedure


        Following the procedure, you’ll be a little groggy due to the anesthesia. You’ll be kept at the clinic for 30-60 minutes to ensure that your recovery from your sedation is smooth and comfortable. Following that, you’ll be ready to go home if you have a safe and reliable ride. 

        Most women are back to normal the day after their egg retrieval procedure. However, light spotting, abdominal cramping, and a sore vaginal area can be expected. The side effects from an egg retrieval procedure are minimal and only minor discomfort should be felt. 

        If you experience extreme bloating, severe pain, or vomiting, calling your clinic is recommended. Your physician can access your symptoms and respond accordingly. We recommend getting a good night’s sleep following the procedure to allow your body to heal. 

        After your appointment, we will let you know how many eggs were viable and frozen. On average, about 80% of retrieved eggs are mature, healthy, and lead to freezing. The eggs are frozen, or cryopreserved, using a method called vitrification. 

        Chances of Success

        The chances of success following egg retrieval relies on a variety of factors. For women under 35, the chances of live births per egg retrieval is 54. 5%. For women between ages 35 and 37, chances of success drop to 41.1%, and for women between 38 and 40, success rates drop to 26.7%. 



        Though egg retrieval might seem like a scary procedure, it’s comfortable, quick, and only minimally invasive. Whether you’re going through a process of IVF for yourself, or becoming an egg donor, doctors have made egg retrieval as painless as possible. With no external cuts, this procedure is over in only 15 minutes.