The egg retrieval procedure is very important for the in vitro fertilization treatment.
During the egg retrieval process a woman’s eggs are extracted from her ovaries in order to be fertilized later with sperm provided from a sperm donor.
Before beginning the egg retrieval the woman is injected with some medications in order to stimulate the egg development. This is a way of ensuring that the number of eggs will be sufficient. Inside the ovaries there are some follicles where the eggs develop. Each follicle contains one egg. The procedure continues with monitoring the follicles until they reach maturity (between 14-15 mm and 18-20 mm).
For in vitro fertilization procedure the eggs collection is done by means of trans-vaginal ultrasound guidance. This process, also known as egg aspiration procedure, consists in inserting a needle in the ovaries through the vagina’s wall. In order to locate the follicle ultrasound are used. The eggs are obtained by drawing up the follicular fluid which is collected into a tube.
The test tube is kept into an incubator. The patient shouldn’t be worried if after the follicular aspiration not all of the follicles contain eggs. This depends on several factors like the woman’s age or the fertility treatment she follows up. The number of eggs can vary between 5 and 20 eggs.
There a several advantages of egg retrieval using trans-vaginal ultrasound: the aspiration is very transparent, the doctor can see on the monitor the needle going into the ovaries and aspirating the fluid, a large number of eggs are collected from the follicles (the success rate is increased), not to mention that the procedure is very simple and the patients don’t complain about pain or side effects. As an alternative of egg retrieval using trans-vaginal ultrasound guidance, laparoscopy was introduced. But this procedure has many disadvantages: general anesthesia is required, is a surgical intervention and is far more complicated than the ultrasound egg retrieval.
Even though the patients are sedated and are constantly observed by anestezist, there are some cases when women may feel a slight pain or discomfort during the operation. The procedure of egg retrieval is not very complicated, it lasts about 30 minutes so the patient is allowed to go home in a couple of hours after the intervention.
Although the procedure is simple is not risk-free. Among the risks it can be mentioned:
– Side effects coming from the medicines used for anesthesia
– There’s quite a few risks that should be taken into consideration when passing the needle into the ovaries because the vagina is very sensitive so a bleeding or an infection may occur, or even other tissues nearby can be affected: ureter, ovaries, uterus, bladder, bowel or blood vessels. Sometimes the procedure can leave internal scarring. However these complications are very rare but they are not to be ignored that’s why after the egg aspiration the patient receives an antibiotic treatment in order to prevent an infection.
Post-egg retrieval effects: slight tender in the abdomen, maybe a little fatigue caused by the anesthesia, red or brown vaginal spotting. All these are normal and there is no reason for worry unless they get worse. In that case the patient should immediately contact her health care provider.
The following step after the egg retrieval the healthy eggs are mixed with sperm and they are monitored until the fertilization takes place. After the fertilization the next treatment step is the embryo transfer.