What is the Egg Pickup Procedure?
The Egg Pickup Procedure is a part of the in-vitro fertilization or fertility preservation process where we remove eggs from the woman before fertilizing them in the laboratory. We also call this procedure oocyte pick up (OPU) or egg retrieval.
What happens in an IVF before the egg pickup procedure?
Before the egg pickup procedure, your specialist starts an IVF or fertility preservation procedure by performing controlled ovarian stimulation. During this process, one or more fluid-filled sacs, called follicles, containing immature eggs start growing in the ovaries.
The specialist evaluates the size of the follicles on a regular basis using ultrasound. When the lead follicle is above a specific size, the specialist gives you a trigger injection to induce egg maturity in the follicles.
After how many days of medications or injections is the egg pick up procedure performed?
The timing of the egg pickup procedure varies for each individual and IVF cycle due to differences in women’s responses to medications. A specialist evaluates the size of follicles on ultrasound and determines the best time to perform the egg pickup.
Preparing for the egg retrieval procedure
- The medical team will perform the egg retrieval procedure within 36-38 hours after administering your trigger injection. Your doctor will schedule the procedure accordingly.
- The medical team will ask you to fast for 6-8 hours before the procedure and allow you to drink clear fluids such as water. They do this to reduce the risk of aspiration during anesthesia.
- Once you arrive at the hospital, the medical team will admit you, provide a change of clothes, shave your private parts before the procedure, and perform a quick check.
- The medical team will wheel you into the theatre at the allotted time for the procedure.
- At the same time, the medical team will request your partner to provide a fresh semen sample for use in the IVF-ICSI procedure.
How does a doctor retrieve my eggs in an IVF procedure?
In an IVF procedure, a doctor retrieves your eggs by using ultrasound guidance and a hollow needle to aspirate eggs from your ovaries.
Egg retrieval is a procedure that we perform during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to retrieve eggs from your ovaries. We use ultrasound guidance and a hollow needle to aspirate eggs from the follicles. After that, we fertilize the retrieved eggs with sperm in a laboratory and transfer the resulting embryos back to your uterus to establish a pregnancy. We usually perform the procedure under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, and it typically takes 30-60 minutes.
What happens after the egg pick-up procedure?
After we complete the egg pick-up procedure, we will monitor you for a couple of hours to ensure that the effects of anesthesia wear off. Initially, we will give you a few sips of clear fluid and then encourage you to eat a soft meal. Once you are hydrated, we will encourage you to walk and pass urine
We will discharge you once the effects of anesthesia wear off. Throughout the process, the embryologist and the doctor will keep you informed about the quality of eggs, embryos, and the embryo transfer procedure.
Is the egg pick up procedure painful?
No, the egg pick-up procedure is relatively painless as we perform it under sedation or anesthesia. You will likely go to sleep before the procedure starts and be woken up after it ends. The doctor will give you medicines to manage symptoms such as cramps or abdominal discomfort after the procedure.
What are the risks and complications that may happen in a egg pickup procedure?
Egg retrieval is generally considered a safe procedure. Like any medical procedure, it can have potential complications. Some of the most common complications associated with egg retrieval include:
- You may experience mild cramping or bloating for 2-3 days
- Rupture of follicles: Egg pickup is a time sensitive procedure. If the egg pickup procedure is delayed, the eggs may spontaneously rupture and be released from the follicles. This resembles natural ovulation. Eggs after release, cannot be used for procedures like IVF or ICSI.
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): OHSS is a condition that occurs when the ovaries become swollen and painful after stimulation with hormones during the IVF cycle. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and shortness of breath.
- Anesthesia related complications
- Infection: There is a small risk of infection at the needle insertion site or in the pelvic region.
- Bleeding: Bleeding can occur during or after the procedure, either at the needle insertion site or within the pelvis.
- Bowel or bladder injury from the needle: The needle may injure the bowel or urinary bladder.
- Incomplete egg retrieval: The procedure for egg pick-up requires good hand eye coordination. An ill trained specialist may not be able to retrieve eggs completely during the procedure.
- A doctor would not be able to retrieve mature eggs from the follicles if the trigger injection is missed or ill timed. This leads to an absence of eggs in the aspirated follicles.
- The quality of eggs retrieved may be poor. Poor quality eggs may fail to fertilize or give poor quality embryos.
It’s important to discuss potential complications with your doctor before undergoing egg retrieval and to report any concerning symptoms promptly to your medical team.