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The word “surgery” might seem scary, but the egg retrieval process is quick and essentially painless. Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure.
Here’s how it works: the doctor will use ultrasound to identify your ovaries, which, by now, will be adorned with clusters of tiny follicles, like a compact ball of champagne grapes. (Cheers!) Your doctor will gently guide a needle attached to a catheter through the vaginal wall. One by one, the eggs will be drawn out using light suction. They’ll be collected in test tubes labeled with your name and unique identification number, which will then be handed off to the embryologist—an expert in the science of oocyte cryopreservation (the technical term for egg freezing).
After the egg retrieval process is complete and the needle removed, your doctor will examine your vaginal wall and your ovaries. These sites may bleed a little, and the doctor will be prepared to apply pressure or—on rare occasions—use a cauterizing agent to quell the bleeding. That’s it! No stitches. No scars.
The anesthesiologist will use a propofol-based anesthesia—not a general anesthesia, but rather an intravenous sedation medication—to ensure you feel no pain or discomfort during the egg retrieval process. We’re proud to partner with Alfond Ambulatory Anesthesia, a group of board-certified anesthesiologists led by Dr. Steven Alfond. Dr. Alfond has over 20 years of experience administering anesthesia to the reproductive medicine community and has participated in over 20,000 procedures, making him the most experienced fertility anesthesia provider in New York City.
(And good news—unlike at many facilities, the fee for anesthesia is included in the cost of your egg freezing cycle. Get more details on egg freezing cost.)
Seriously! That’s less time than most people spend on the elliptical machine. After the egg retrieval, you’ll rest for 30–60 minutes in the recovery area, where a nurse will monitor you as you wake up from the anesthesia.
New York State regulations require that an “escort,” like a friend or family member, accompany you home from the egg retrieval. They’ll be well taken care of in the waiting room during your procedure. We recommend you go straight home and relax for the rest of the day with a responsible adult by your side, just in case. (It’s the perfect time to catch up on your Netflix favorites!) We know, we know—some of you will probably still go back to work, despite our pleas. But plan on staying out of the driver’s seat for at least 24 hours.
After the egg retrieval process, you may experience some soreness in the vaginal area, some abdominal cramping, or some spotting, which could last a few days. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol will help. Most women feel “back to normal” by the next day. You probably won’t need a follow-up appointment, but the healthcare team will call and check in on you, just in case. If at any time if you’re really bloated, throwing up, in a lot of pain, or otherwise feeling bad, give the healthcare team a call.
Before you leave the office, the team will let you know how many eggs were retrieved and moved to our embryology lab. Then, within 24 hours of your egg retrieval process, they’ll call to let you know many of your eggs were ultimately frozen; typically, about 80% of eggs retrieved are deemed mature, normal, and suitable for freezing.