USC Fertility

Egg Retrieval

The egg retrieval procedure is an important part of IVF, egg freezing and egg donation

Our Southern California fertility clinic expertly guides women through the process of egg retrieval. We perform this outpatient procedure to collect the mature eggs that a woman produces during ovarian stimulation. This procedure can occur as part of in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg freezing or egg donation. Thanks to our fertility doctors’ expert care, this procedure is incredibly safe and includes an easy recovery process.

What can you expect during an egg retrieval?

When a woman starts an IVF cycle, or decides to donate or freeze her eggs, the team at our Southern California fertility clinic works with her to create a schedule for administering fertility medications and receiving monitoring. When the fertility doctor determines that an adequate number of her eggs are mature, he or she schedules the retrieval. The retrieval consists of a series of simple steps.

Trigger shot. After the fertility doctor determines that the eggs are ready, he or she will order the trigger shot, which is typically Lupron or hCG. This shot triggers the final maturation of the eggs and prepares them for retrieval.

Pre-surgery prep. The step occurs about 35 hours after administering the trigger shot. The woman arrives at our clinic about an hour before the retrieval procedure to complete the necessary paperwork and prep for the procedure. She should wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Anesthesia. Before the egg retrieval begins, an anesthesiologist administers IV sedation. This sedation causes the patient to slip into a kind of deep sleep and prevents her from feeling any discomfort during the procedure.

Retrieval. To retrieve the eggs, the doctor uses a transvaginal ultrasound with a probe to locate the mature ovarian follicles that contain the eggs. He or she then uses a small, hollow needle to extract each egg. This process doesn’t require any incisions.

This straightforward procedure typically only takes 10 to 15 minutes, and the woman can return home shortly afterwards.

What can you expect after the retrieval?

Once the fertility specialist retrieves the eggs, the eggs go to the lab for IVF fertilization or freezing. The anesthesiologist then brings the woman out of sedation and a nurse transfers her to a recovery area.

The woman remains in the recovery area for about 30 minutes following the egg retrieval. During this time, the care team will confirm that she is ready to go home, and the doctor lets her know how many eggs were retrieved. The woman will need to have someone she knows escort her home.

We recommend women rest on the day of the procedure, but we typically clear them to return to work the following day. Mild bloating and soreness, as well as light bleeding, are common following a retrieval. Over-the-counter pain medication is usually all the woman needs to curb discomfort.

We ask that women abstain from strenuous activity until their period resumes, which usually occurs after about two weeks.

The skilled team at our Southern California fertility clinic supports women through every step of the retrieval, helping to ensure they have a positive experience. Contact us for more information about our fertility services.