What happens at egg collection?


Egg collection is a minor procedure that normally takes no more than 15 minutes to complete. It allows fertility specialists to extract eggs to be used during IVF. During the procedure, you’ll be sedated and your eggs will be collected with a small needle that’s passed through your vagina into your ovaries. 


What is the egg collection procedure?

The egg collection procedure, also known as egg retrieval, involves using an ultrasound probe to detect follicles. A needle is then guided through the vagina into these follicles, before eggs are removed using a suction device connected to the other end.

You’ll be under sedation for the entire procedure, which only lasts around 15-20 minutes.


Is egg collection painful?

The egg collection process is usually completely painless, but some women do experience minor cramps and a small amount of vaginal bleeding. Both of these symptoms should pass as soon as the retrieval is over. 


How long does the egg retrieval process take?

Egg retrieval takes no more than 15-20 minutes. The nurse will walk you into the procedure room where you will be asked to lie on the procedure bed. You will meet the IVF Consultant, the consultant anaesthetist and the embryologist who will confirm your name and date of birth. The anaesthetist will insert a cannula  - usually in the back of your hand. The sedation will then begin. You will start to feel very drowsy and you will have surgical drapes placed on your legs and abdomen to maintain sterility and your modesty at all times. The egg collection will then begin.


Monitoring egg development

You’ll be monitored throughout your IVF treatment using ultrasounds and hormone measurements. This allows your fertility specialist to adjust levels of IVF medication to improve follicle growth, giving us a clear picture as to when the egg collection will take place.

You may need to visit your fertility clinic regularly throughout this time. Your consultant will discuss timings with you.

Egg collection and monitoring allows us to use the best quality eggs in the IVF process. When we retrieve the eggs, we pick the ones most likely to result in fertilisation to go forward. Other eggs will either be frozen, disposed of, or passed on for use in scientific research if you give us permission.


Egg collection side effects and complications

The risks of something going wrong with egg collection are minor, however the more common side effects include things like bloating, unusual discharges and minor infections.

Other risks include:

  • Constipation, which may last for a number of days after the procedure
  • Bloating, due to your ovaries becoming enlarged after the embryo transfer takes place
  • Vaginal discharge. You may find you pass a small amount of watery fluid after the retrieval.
  • Breast tenderness caused by rapidly changing hormone levels
  • Infection or bleeding
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which can cause symptoms such as mild or moderate abdominal pain, adnominal bleeding, nausea or diarrhoea.

Severe symptoms should be discussed with your fertility specialist as soon as possible.


You can find out more on the whole IVF treatment cycle here.

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