Egg Donation Phase 2: Egg Retrieval

When women opt for egg donation, egg retrieval or an egg pick-up must be performed. For some individuals, this process raises many questions.

Special preparation for egg donation is performed ahead of time including menstrual cycle synchronization (the occurrence of the cycle at the same time) for the recipient and donor and ovarian hyperstimulation (the process of over stimulating the ovaries to create multiple eggs).

Egg Retrieval Process and Follicle Aspiration

Once the eggs are prepared, egg retrieval is performed in an outpatient surgical unit. Transportation should be arranged as sedation is used. The mature eggs are removed by surgery method called “transvaginal ultrasound aspiration”. For an egg retrieval procedure, a light intravenous anesthesia medication is normally administered. With this sort of sedation, the patient is relaxed and comfortable, but not completely asleep.

Once the sedation has taken effect and the patient feels more relaxed, a thin vaginal ultrasound probe with an aspiration needle attached is inserted into the vagina and then into the cervix. The follicles and their contents, including cells and the eggs, are gently sucked out and then placed into a test tube. This procedure normally takes about 10 to 30 minutes. The patient is usually monitored for at least one hour after the procedure before going home.

Examination and Storage of the Eggs

After the egg retrieval, the eggs are examined with the help of a microscope and are either frozen for later use, or placed in dishes to be sent to an in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory where they are kept in special IVF incubators (constant and clean environment for the embryos) for 2 to 5 days. After this length of time, they may be placed into a woman’s uterus for IVF. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the assisted reproduction of placing a woman’s egg cells and fertilizing them with a man’s sperm outside of the womb.

Side Effects and Complications

The side effects of an egg retrieval process may include infection, bleeding, damage to the nearby organs of the ovaries, psychological stress such as anxiety and panic or depression, an adverse reaction to the anesthesia, and although rarely, the possibility of death.

After the Egg Retrieval

It is recommended for egg donors to rest for the entire day after egg retrieval. Some side effects after the procedure may include mild cramping for a few hours and slight vaginal bleeding. If severe abdominal pain and/or heavy bleeding are experienced after the process, the physician should be contacted immediately. If this is not possible, the patient should seek medical attention at a hospital or clinic.

Sex should be avoided not only from the time that the hormone medication is started, but also for the first three weeks after egg retrieval. This will help to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. A period will normally occur within 14 days of the egg retrieval. A heavier blood flow is expected after the procedure (for the first menstrual period). This is caused by the stimulation of the ovaries.

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