What Egg Donors Should Expect Before, During, and After Egg Retrieval
If you’re thinking about becoming an egg donor, you probably have a lot of questions about what the process entails. In this blog post, we’ve broken down each phase of the egg retrieval process and provided some insight into the egg donor experience.
Ovarian Stimulation and Monitoring
During a typical ovulation cycle, ovaries normally release one egg into the fallopian tubes. With egg retrieval, the goal is to obtain several eggs during a single cycle. As such, to stimulate the production of multiple mature eggs, patients are prescribed self-injectable fertility drugs. These medications are taken every day for about 10-12 days, depending on the treatment protocol.
At My Egg Bank, we provide egg donors with individual medication-training sessions with a donor nurse coordinator so you can learn how to administer the medication successfully. We also provide instructional videos for each medication so that our egg donors can use them as references on an as-needed basis.
As the egg follicles grow, you will visit your doctor periodically so that they can monitor the follicle size via ultrasound to determine egg retrieval. Once the egg follicles have reached the appropriate size, your doctor will provide an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that triggers the last step of egg maturation.
At the time of egg retrieval (34-36 hours post hCG shot), an anesthesiologist administers a light sedative that puts a patient to “sleep” and guarantees that no pain is felt during the procedure. Once the anesthesia is successful, an internal ultrasound probe attached with a needle is inserted into the vagina and guided toward the ovaries, where the egg follicles are located. The needle is then used to puncture each follicle, allowing the egg and fluid inside to be collected into the needle through gentle suction.
After Egg Retrieval
After the retrieval is complete, you’ll remain at our facility for a few hours to ensure all is well. While light spotting and abdominal cramping might be experienced, most patients feel fine a day or so after the procedure. You may be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent infection and/or a steroid to reduce any inflammation. You may also be asked to avoid sexual intercourse or submerging yourself in water (swimming in a pool, taking a bath, etc.) for a certain amount of time.
While rare, patients are also told to watch for signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can occur as a side effect of fertility drug use. Symptoms, which can include mild bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, may occur within a few days or even a week or more after retrieval. If you experience any symptoms or concerns, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.