What Happens During the Egg Retrieval Process?

May 30, 2019
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You’ve committed to being an egg donor, but probably still wonder what the actual egg retrieval procedure will be like. Let’s go through it step by step.

The egg retrieval process is a simple, quick, and painless procedure. In fact, you’ll have a very good chance of resuming your normal schedule the very next day (sorry if you were looking for an excuse to take an extended vacation). Below, we illustrate a couple of days in the life of an egg donor to show what the egg retrieval process is like.

36 Hours Before the Procedure

Exactly 36 hours before your egg retrieval, you’ll take a trigger shot. This trigger will get your body in motion to release the eggs at just the right time into the follicle fluid so that the reproductive endocrinologist can extract them easily during your scheduled procedure.

Day Before

We don’t have any major instructions to give, other than to take it easy (as in, don’t go out partying). Also, you’ll need to fast (no drinking or eating) before your retrieval time and until after the retrieval process. This precaution is because you will be given a local anesthesia to make you more comfortable during the procedure. You will still be breathing on your own, however your safety is our main concern and we want to make sure your stomach is empty prior to having any anesthesia. The good news is that most likely, your procedure will be scheduled early in the morning so that at its worst, you might be a little hungry (but hopefully not hangry) in the morning.

The Big Day

Plan ahead for the day of your retrieval. Once you arrive at the clinic, you will be taken care of by the staff.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • You’ll report to the IVF clinic at the assigned time
  • Wear your most comfortable clothes.
  • If you wear contacts, leave them at home and wear your glasses. You’ll need an adult chaperone to accompany you to and from the procedure. Think in advance what trusted friend or family member you can ask to take on this role. This chaperone’s role will be particularly important after the procedure since you’ll be a little groggy from the anesthesia and he/she will be responsible for getting you home.

Once at the clinic, you change into a surgical gown and meet with a nurse for basic pre-op work and post-op instructions. Once all of the details of the procedure are discussed, you will be ready for the procedure.

The Procedure

An anesthetist will put you to sleep through “twilight sedation.” This anesthetic allows you to breathe on your own and therefore doesn’t require any breathing tubes. You’ll be moved to the procedure room, where the reproductive endocrinologist will start the egg retrieval procedure. He/she will extract the eggs from your follicles using “transvaginal ultrasound aspiration.” The reproductive endocrinologist will insert an ultrasound probe into the natural opening of your vagina to find your follicles. Then, he/she will insert a thin needle into the probe to go through the vagina and into the follicles to extract your eggs.  The entire procedure will only take about 20 minutes.


You won’t have to worry about any scars or stitches. You’ll recover and wait for the anesthesia to wear off in the post-op room, assisted by a nurse, for about 30-45 minutes. Then your chaperone will take you home (or to the hotel, if you’re a traveling egg donor).

After the Procedure

You’ll take the rest of the day off to relax. This is the perfect opportunity to binge watch TV or to read that book you haven’t gotten around to finishing. You might feel a little bloated, crampy, or nauseous from the anesthesia, but otherwise, you shouldn’t feel pain or any severe symptoms (of course, in the rare chance you are experiencing severe symptoms, call 911). Make sure to read over the post-op instructions you were given to learn about any symptoms to be wary of.

The next day, you’ll most likely be back to your normal self. Unless your body is telling you that you still need to recover, you can go about your usual activities.

While you’re recovering, the Fairfax EggBank and IVF clinic team will be busy at work. The embryologists will carefully evaluate which eggs are mature and good enough to freeze. The Fairfax EggBank donor coordinator will be working on sending the donor reimbursement check to you.

The Fairfax EggBank team is here to help throughout the process. We want to make this a positive experience for you, and make sure that you are informed along the way. If you ever have uncertainty or questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our goal is to be as honest and informative as possible, so you have all the information you need to decide whether egg donation is for you.

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