Expert Tips On What To Do The Night Before Having An Egg Retrieval

As part of the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process, egg retrieval is achieved by using a needle, suction instrument, and test tube to extract eggs from the ovaries for lab fertilization and later insertion into the womb (via Emory University School of Medicine). Mark Leondires, M.D., is the Founder and Medical Director at Illume Fertility. Dr. Leondires is also the Founder of Gay Parents To Be, a leading family-building resource for the LGBTQ+ community. He is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility. In an exclusive talk with Health Digest, Dr. Leondires shared how one can best prep the night prior to an egg retrieval procedure.

He starts off with a step-by-step explanation of how the procedure works. "When you arrive at your fertility clinic on the day of your egg retrieval, you will check in at the front desk, then walk back to the surgical suite to get prepped for the procedure," Dr. Leondires states. "After you get settled, you will sign some paperwork related to your procedure, have an IV inserted, and have your vital signs taken," he says. "After this, you will likely meet with the anesthesia provider and the surgeon who will perform your egg retrieval to discuss any questions or concerns."

What to expect during the procedure

"When it is time for your procedure, you will enter the procedure room, where you will be asked to confirm your identity by an embryology staff member," Dr. Leondires tells us. "Then the anesthesia provider will start your anesthetic medications shortly after this step, and you will be off to dreamland while your surgeon gets started. Many patients refer to this as 'the best nap' of their lives!"

"Once you are comfortably asleep, your doctor will place an ultrasound probe vaginally and look at your follicles on the monitor," he says. "As soon as your follicles are in clear view, the doctor will advance a thin needle through your vaginal wall and into the egg-containing follicles (the follicle is similar to a small water balloon filled with fluid and a single egg)," he states. "The doctor will use a machine to apply gentle suction and drain the fluid from each follicle. This fluid is collected in a test tube, then carefully handed over to the embryologist who evaluates it under a microscope and counts any eggs that are collected."

Dr. Leondires adds that short-term side effects following the procedure are not uncommon, primarily bloating and cramping. However, bloating should subside within a few days, and period-like cramps generally only last about 24 hours. He states that your physician will walk you through what's involved in proper after-care.

The importance of relaxation and mistakes to avoid

When it comes to preparation, Dr. Leondires told us there are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid. The first mistake, he says, is "forgetting to take your 'trigger shot' at the right time (it should be taken around 34-36 hours prior to your scheduled egg retrieval)." Similarly, patients also sometimes forget to take medications at the same time each day, if needed. "Consistency is crucial during the IVF process," Dr. Leondires states. Even more, patients sometimes accidentally run out of their medication supply altogether. Another mistake to avoid, he says, is "not refrigerating medications that need to be kept cold." 

He also encourages patients not to forget about a support system. "This process is undoubtedly overwhelming at times, and requires a lot of planning and precision. Don't hesitate to ask your healthcare providers if you feel uncertain about what to do next."  

"The night before your procedure, run through your plans for the morning (transportation, who will be coming with you, any items you want to bring with you, etc.). Additionally, do not over-schedule yourself for the next few days of your recovery," he states. However, Dr. Leondires says the best thing you can do is prioritize your mental health. "Aside from ensuring you take your trigger shot at the correct time prior to your egg retrieval, the best thing to do is try and relax. Try to go to bed early so you are rested for the big day!"