Egg retrieval

The egg retrieval process is the culmination of everything you, your agency, the clinic, and the intended parent(s) have been working towards.  In a very specialized medical procedure, your eggs will be retrieved from your ovaries.  As this is the point when many donors experience side effects, it is important to familiarize yourself with the process and what symptoms are normal or abnormal after the procedure.

Questions to ask:

How are my eggs retrieved?

Your eggs are retrieved through a surgical procedure called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. Using a tube attached to an ultrasound probe, a physician guides a suctioning needle into each ovary and removes mature eggs from the follicles.

How long does this procedure take?

The egg retrieval procedure itself takes about 15 minutes.

Following egg retrieval, you will generally remain in the clinic for 1-2 hours and then return home for further recovery.

Is the egg retrieval procedure painful? Will I be under anesthesia?

The procedure is performed under conscious sedation, which commonly involves a combination of sedatives to help you relax, and anesthetics to block the pain.
A medication such as oral promethazine may be used to prevent nausea during the procedure.

Do I have someone to drive me home after the procedure?

During the procedure, you may have been given painkillers, sedatives, or anesthesia, therefore you must arrange for someone else to drive you home.  If you are doing a retrieval procedure outside of your home state, some clinics provide you with a nurse for the day.  Also, some agencies allow you to bring a friend or family member to take care of you and will pay for your companion’s travel expenses.

Will I experience any side effects from the procedure?

Common side effects of this procedure include, but are not limited to, mild to moderate discomfort and nausea.  Many donors describe their post-procedure symptoms as similar to menstrual cramps.

Other side serious side effects include:

- infection
- infertility
- vaginal bleeding or lacerations
- acute ovarian trauma
- major injury to the bladder, bowel, uterus, blood vessels or other pelvic structures

An antibiotic such as oral doxycycline may be prescribed to prevent infection.

It is important to continue monitoring your health after the procedure to check for long-term, post-procedural side effects.

How soon can I resume normal activity after the egg retrieval procedure?

Most women generally take 1-7 days to recover from the egg retrieval. Many donors report that they feel back to normal after their first period starts after the procedure, which is typically between 5-10 days.  However this may be different for you depending on your personal circumstances and how your body reacts to the medications and procedure.