You’re heading towards the end of your ovarian stimulation and quickly approaching your egg retrieval. How do you need to prepare and what should you expect? Prepping your home with a few extra supplies and knowing what to expect on egg retrieval day can help you go into the procedure feeling calm and confident.
Before Your Retrieval
When you receive instructions from your clinic that you’re ready to do the Trigger Shot in preparation for your egg retrieval, it can feel like everything you’ve been working towards is finally happening. There are a few ways to prepare before the retrieval to make sure you’re ready for the procedure and the recovery:
Have a comfy spot to relax while you recover
Plan some low key activities, like a new book or movie
Have an over-the-counter painkiller on hand for any cramping or discomfort after the procedure
Have a pack of menstrual pads or panty liners at home in case you have spotting after the procedure
Stock up on your favorite drink with electrolytes (sports drinks or electrolyte supplements)
The last thing to prepare in advance of the egg retrieval is a ride home. Because the procedure requires anesthesia, you won’t be able to go home unattended or drive the day of the procedure. In order to leave the clinic on the day of your retrieval, you’ll need someone to come to the clinic and sign you out. That person is agreeing to be responsible for getting you home. Unfortunately, because of the responsibility to care for you as you leave the clinic, ride-share and taxi drivers are not able to transport you home from the clinic following your procedure.
In some areas, there are companies that will provide a chaperone to accompany you home and assume responsibility for you as you leave the clinic to go home and recover. If you’re unable to find a family member or friend, check to see if this service is offered in your area.
Prepping everything before the retrieval can help relieve stress and create a smooth recovery experience.
On the Day of Your Egg Retrieval
On the day of the retrieval, be sure to wear comfy clothes, leave your jewelry at home, and don't wear any makeup. When you arrive at the clinic, you’ll change out of your clothes and put on a gown. Then you’ll go through the admission process by answering medical history questions, getting your IV, and signing consent forms with the doctor.
Your scheduled procedure time is approximately 36 hours after you do your trigger shot. Once it’s time for your procedure, you’ll be escorted to the operating room. You’ll lay down in the operating room and the anesthesiologist will administer a light anesthesia medicine through your IV. The medication will cause you to gently drift off to sleep. Then, the doctor uses a Transvaginal Ultrasound to guide a needle into each follicle and remove the fluid and egg contained inside. The entire egg retrieval procedure lasts about 15 minutes. It can take up to an additional 15 minutes or so for you to wake up from the anesthesia.
Following the procedure, you’ll usually rest at the clinic for another hour or so. During that time, you’ll have some light snacks and drinks to make sure you don’t have nausea. Most clinics also require that you are able to urinate before they allow you to leave the clinic. When you’re ready, you can leave the clinic under the supervision of another adult (family, friend, or chaperone) and go home to spend the rest of the day relaxing and recovering.
Recovery and Follow-up After Your Procedure
Plan to take off work for the entire day on the day of the egg retrieval. On that day, your brain can be foggy from anesthesia, so avoid driving, working, and any strenuous activities. Most people return to work the day after their egg retrieval, but some people need a bit longer to recover. Make sure to plan to be flexible with your schedule. After your egg retrieval, it’s also advised to avoid sex and exercise until you get your next period. Most people get their period about 2 weeks after the procedure.
Everyone recovers differently, and returning to your normal routine can take time. Listen to your body and only continue activities if you aren’t experiencing discomfort. For some people, it can take a few weeks to feel completely back to normal.
For about two weeks after the retrieval, your hormones will remain elevated from the stimulation medications. Because of these hormones, you can still expect to feel side effects like bloating, feeling more emotional than usual, and fatigue. For most patients, as you approach your period, your hormone levels will drop and the side effects should go away.
When to Contact Your Clinic
Rarely, patients experience an exaggerated response to the ovarian stimulation medications. This is known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). According to the Cleveland Clinic, less than 5% of patients experience OHSS and severe OHSS occurs in less than 1% of patients. OHSS symptoms can start towards the end of your ovarian stimulation cycle, but most commonly occur in the week following your egg retrieval. Always be sure to let your clinic know if you experience:
Weight gain of greater than 1 pound in 24 hours
Shortness of breath
Severe abdominal pain
Nausea and vomiting
Other non-OHSS symptoms that you should let your doctor know about:
Heavy vaginal bleeding like a period
The egg retrieval is the culmination of a lot of injections, appointments, and anticipation. Going into it feeling prepared can help you manage the stress and anxiety and have the best experience possible. You got this!
“Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): Symptoms.” 2020. Cleveland Clinic. January 10, 2020.