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The Center for Fertility and Gynecology

What To Expect With Egg Retrieval

By on June 06, 2013

At the Center for Fertility and Gynecology in Los Angeles, we endeavor to educate our patients on each step of the fertility treatment process.  Whether a patient is being treated with reproductive surgeryintrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF), we feel that increased patient understanding leads directly to greater overall success. 

One of the more complex treatments we offer is IVF.  There are many highly coordinated and complicated steps to IVF, but the egg retrieval, also known as follicle aspiration or ovum pick-up (OPU), is usually the most confusing for patients to understand.  This blog post aims to explain what a patient should expect during the egg retrieval.

The egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure performed in an operating room adjacent to the IVF laboratory.  The steps are as follows:

1.       The patient arrives at the surgical facility approximately 1 hour prior to procedure time.

2.       The patient empties her bladder and puts on a surgical gown.

3.       The anesthesiologist interviews the patient, starts an IV and gives a small amount of medicine to help the patient relax.

4.       The fertility doctor positions the patient on the bed and uses sterile water to clean and prepare the vagina.  Sterile drapes are then placed over the patient’s legs and abdomen to create the surgical field.

5.       The anesthesiologist gives more medicine that helps the patient go to sleep.


6.       An ultrasound probe equipped with a needle guide is placed into the vagina.

7.       Using ultrasound guidance, the needle is directed into the follicles and the fluid within the follicles is suctioned into a sterile receptacle.  This process is repeated for each follicle in both ovaries.  During this time, the embryologist is evaluating the follicular fluid under a microscope to identify and isolate the eggs.

8.       Once all follicles have been aspirated, the pelvis is evaluated with ultrasound to ensure that there is no internal bleeding.

9.       The patient is awaken by the anesthesiologist, she recovers for about 45-90 minutes then is discharged home.

From the time a patient walks in the door to the time she leaves is usually about 2 and a half hours.  Following the procedure, most patients take it easy for the remainder of the day and rest.  Occasionally patients will return to work that same afternoon. 

In addition, patients are advised to; wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing to the procedure,  not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure and arrange to have a ride home after the procedure, as it is unsafe to drive shortly after being placed under anesthesia.

If you have any questions about egg retrieval or fertility treatments in general, feel free to contact us.    

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