Egg retrieval: what you need to know about follicular puncture

Many women raise questions about one of the most important steps in their fertility treatment, the egg retrieval and what it will look like. Will pain or swelling occur? What about side effects? And how do I prepare for the procedure?

Our IVF-Life Team will gladly clear up any fears or doubts in this article and inform you about this crucial stage, that is part of various treatments of Assisted Reproduction offered in our clinics.

Egg retrieval – What is it about?

Egg retrieval is a simple and quick outpatient operation that does not require hospitalisation. The goal is to extract the eggs (oocytes) formed during ovulation. This treatment is performed on patients starting an In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment, or on egg donors, that are in the process of donating eggs. Follicular puncture is also performed in cases of Fertility Preservation, where the patient’s eggs are vitrified for later use, if the patient decides to do so.

Ovarian stimulation and measurement of ovarian reserve

At IVF-Life our goal is to obtain an adequate number of embryos and thus increasing the chances of achieving pregnancy. Therefore, every treatment of ovarian stimulation is performed following personalized protocols, which are individualized for each patient.

During each menstrual cycle, a certain number of follicles grow in the ovaries. Of those follicles, only one will “survive” and eventually develop an egg. The other follicles that do not develop are lost in the process.

Prior to the follicular puncture, our fertility experts will determine a significant factor for this stage of the treatment, the patient’s ovarian reserve. To be able to obtain as many oocytes as possible the patient will have to undergo an ovarian stimulation before the procedure can be carried out.

egg retrieval

During the ovarian stimulation, a period of on average 10 to 20 days, our medical team will monitor each patient’s reaction to the prescribed medication via ultrasound examinations that are performed every two to three days. Each protocol has to be adapted conforming to the ovarian response. Every single one of our patients is unique and requires an individual treatment. Until the follicles contained in each ovary reach a size of 17-19 mm in diameter, in some cases between 16-22 mm, they will be observed constantly by our fertility experts.

When the follicle has reached the optimal size, the hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG, is administered to induce ovulation within 32 to 36 hours. The egg retrieval will be performed within this time interval, before ovulation occurs spontaneously.

How to prepare for the egg retrieval

  1. Patients should fast, since a mild sedation will be administered. Eight hours before the operation the patient must not drink or eat.
  2. Additional stress should be avoided. Traffic jams or late arrival can be avoided by preparing everything the night before and scheduling enough time for the trip to the clinic.
  3. Please do not wear jewellery, cosmetics, nail polish or perfume. It is important to keep the operating theatre sterile.
  4. It is recommended to bring your partner or another person to the appointment, as you may feel dizzy or even disoriented. This is not usual, but for safety precautions, the patient should under no circumstances drive on their own after the procedure.
  5. Please follow the instructions on which medications to take before and after the puncture.

Our team at IVF-Life provides every patient with the necessary support throughout every step of the treatment to reduce stress and nervousness that may appear before a surgical procedure. We make sure that our patients have followed the instructions correctly, communicating in each patient’s mother tongue, generating empathy and understanding.

Expectations of the day of the egg retrieval

To avoid the patient feeling any discomfort or pain, the procedure is performed under light sedation. The operation is estimated to take between 20 and 30 minutes. This might vary depending on how many follicles the patient has.

Follicular aspiration is performed under the guidance of vaginal ultrasound and the eggs are retrieved together with the follicular liquid. Afterwards, our team of embryologists will be in charge of fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory.

Most commonly 6 to 9 eggs are obtained per cycle, but this number depends on different factors such as the characteristics of each woman, her response to the treatment and possible medical conditions. Not all women respond equally to the treatment. In cases of low ovarian reserve, only 1 or 2 eggs can be obtained.

After the egg retrieval – Recovery time

Once the puncture is performed, our patient at IVF-Life recover from the sedation in our individual recovery rooms specifically equipped for this purpose. Recovery time may vary, as each patient needs a different amount of time to recover. Experts recommend resting the same day after leaving the clinic.

Within only a few hours you will be able to return to normal life but be sure to avoid excessive physical exercise and heavy lifting.

You can count on us during each stage of the treatment

Our medical team at IVF-Life is made up of professionals with extensive experience and recognized prestige in the world of assisted reproduction. Our experts put all their know-how into offering treatments individualized to each patient, resolving your doubts, ensuring your well-being and helping you at all times to achieve your goal of becoming a mother. It is crucial for us to know your history, to design the most suitable treatment plan for you and to be by your side at every step of this unique experience.

Our job is to accompany our patients during every stage of their fertility treatment. We want you to understand, that the follicular aspiration is a safe technique. The vast majority of women undergo it without any problems, and so can you.

Now that you know more about egg retrieval and that we have clarified some of your doubts, you may still have questions. We invite you to receive an answer to your still outstanding questions by contacting our experts through this simple form.