Egg Retrieval for IVF: Tips & Recovery

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Egg Retrieval Tips for your IVF cycle.

Today I’m sharing my top tips to help you prepare and recover from an egg retrieval for IVF.

It’s so exciting to get to egg retrieval. You finally get another step closer to your baby. You get to see just how many eggs you grew, how many are mature enough to fertilize, and in a few days, how many embryos you have.

Egg retrieval is a minor procedure where the doctor goes in and pulls out all the eggs. 

While it’s not a major surgery and doesn’t require a lot of recovery time, you may still feel pain and discomfort afterward. Especially if you are a high responder and had lots of eggs. 

Normally your ovaries are about the size of an almond, but when you go through stims they can grow to the size of lemons, or even oranges. I’ve gotten so bloated from this that I’ve looked 6 months pregnant.

My first clinic tried to keep me at around 12 eggs, but during my 3rd retrieval with them, I had 18 eggs. 

My current doctor wanted to take advantage of my high response, especially since we did a retrieval before endo surgery. (We’ll transfer after surgery.)

 He was able to get 34 😳. Of those, only 28 were mature enough, 23 fertilized normally, and 12 made it to Day 5 or 6 blastocysts.

After that, I was in bed for a couple of days, understandably.

After your egg retrieval, you may have some pain, nausea, and light bleeding.

Depending on the day of your retrieval you may want to take an extra day off of work or arrange to work from home if that’s an option.

For the retrieval wear loose clothes and bring a pad to use afterward in case you have any bleeding. 

Egg retrieval tips infographic.

**Please note: I am not a medical professional. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any conditions. Always consult your doctor or medical professionals. Full disclaimer available here.

Pain Management Tips

Before your IVF egg retrieval, make sure you know what you can take for pain. Your doctor may prescribe some pain medication or antibiotics to prevent infection, so get those filled in advance.

Check with your clinic to see which medications to bring with you on the day of your egg retrieval.

Set alarms so that you take your medications at the correct time. This way you can take a nap or totally zone out without trying to remember what to take and when.

Along the same line, write out a schedule of what to take and when. Keep it next to you so that when your alarm goes off you can check for what to take. 

This will help you to manage your pain and take anything else at the correct times.

You may want to check with your doctor’s office to see if you can use a heating pad. You can also ask if and when you can take a hot bath.

Nausea Tips  

I had some major nausea at times after IVF egg retrievals. I’m hoping you don’t, but perhaps it’s good practice for morning sickness?

I’ve found sea bands to be helpful. They’re acupressure wristbands that can help with nausea. A really nice drug-free option.

These lemon ginger lozenges are the best that I’ve tried, and I’ve tried quite a few. They helped relieve nausea within minutes.

Ginger ale is one of my go-to’s to sip. My favorite is Vernors, but whichever you can find should help.

Tea is another great option. Ginger or mint can help with an upset tummy.

Mint essential oil– you can use this in a diffuser, which is great if you really can’t eat or drink anything. I love combining mint and lavender essential oils. It’s such a beautiful scent blend.

What to Bring to Your Egg Retrieval

You won’t need to bring much to your egg retrieval. Definitely check with your clinic as there can be some variations.

In general, you’ll want to bring your ID and insurance card. 

Bring your prescriptions, especially if you need them before or after your retrieval.

At my first IVF clinic, they had me take a Valium 1 hour before my retrieval, so I had to take that in the car on the way in. Our current clinic didn’t, but I did need the painkillers afterward so we could drive the 2 hours home.

Check with your clinic If you have a thyroid (or any) medication that you take each morning to see if you should take it or wait until after your retrieval.

Bring a hair tie if you have long hair.

If you’re concerned about nausea or if they’re going to use anesthesia bring your nausea bands. You won’t be able to wear them during the retrieval, but you’ll be able to after. (I didn’t do this- learn from my mistakes!)

Wear glasses, not contacts. Bring your case for when you take them off during the procedure.

And finally, bring your hubby. He’ll likely need to drive you anyway, but also they will collect his sample before or during your egg retrieval.

Your clinic will provide a hospital gown, hairnet, and foot coverings. 

Snacks

Have some easy snacks available for when you get home after your IVF egg retrieval.

You’ll probably sleep most of the day so having snacks ready for in-between naps helps you to stay nourished. 

Here are some easy snack options:

  • Berries
  • Melon slices
  • Protein or nut bars
  • Crackers 
  • Cereal
  • Pudding
  • Jello
  • Soup cups

Entertainment

You might be pretty out of it, so having some shows or movies to watch is a great way to pass some time in between naps.

The Turner & Hooch show (not the movie) on Disney+ is really cute. Bridgerton on Netflix is fun and season 2 just came out!

After my most recent egg retrieval, I started rewatching Psych on Amazon Prime

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What shows or movies do you nap through really well?

You could also try reading a fun book or playing a game on your smartphone or Nintendo Switch.

I’m not a big gamer, but I like playing Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. Yep, those are my kind of games.

Exercising After Retrieval

You’ll want to avoid high-impact exercises, including anything where you’re jumping.

Because your ovaries are enlarged, especially if you’re a high responder and had over 12 eggs, there is a risk that they could twist which is a complication that you don’t want to deal with.

Remember that your ovaries are typically the size of almonds but during stims grow to the size of lemons or even oranges.

Instead of running or HIIT workouts, this is a good time to do gentle low-impact exercises.

Some calming exercise options include:

  • Walking 
  • Yoga 
  • Tai Chi
  • Stretching
  • Light swimming

Check with your clinic for how long to wait after your retrieval before doing more intense exercise.

Egg Retrieval FAQ:

Is IVF egg retrieval painful?

During the actual procedure, you’re under sedation, so you won’t feel anything. Afterward, it’s normal to experience some cramping and spotting.

I had cramping for a few days after and was bloated for 2-4 weeks. I was also a high responder with over 12 eggs, just something to keep in mind.

How long does it take to recover from egg retrieval?

Egg retrieval recovery time can vary depending on how many eggs your ovaries grew. You’ll want a day or two to take it easy. More if you have ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

It can take a couple of weeks for your ovaries to recover and for the bloating to decrease. 

As a high responder, it usually takes my body about a month after retrieval to feel completely back to normal.

What do you wear to egg retrieval?

Wear loose, comfy clothes. Think sweats or yoga pants (not tight leggings) with a loose top. 

Dresses are a great option if it’s warm. This one fit me well despite being extremely bloated. I seriously looked 6 months pregnant at least. 

Wear full-coverage undies and bring a pad for after in case you have some spotting.

Use your glasses, and leave the contacts at home. Bring a glasses case so your partner can hold onto them

Sneakers are ideal for staying on your feet if you need to shuffle out to the car and these stretchy laces mean you don’t have to deal with bending over to tie them. 

If you have a special pair of lucky socks wear them for both retrieval and your embryo transfer.

Why no perfume during egg retrieval?

Embryos are sensitive to odors, so scents can affect the growth of embryos. Limiting perfume and scented products can help with your embryo’s development.

How do you stay calm during egg retrieval?

I’ve always been really excited to get to egg retrieval, perhaps because my first attempted IVF round was canceled. Maybe you’re also super excited and feel like you need to calm down or perhaps you’re feeling nervous and anxious.

Both are totally normal responses.

While you’re at home you can try some gentle yoga or stretch while focusing on your breathing. 

At home, in the car (not driving), or at the clinic you can try these:

  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Say affirmations
  • Listen to calming music
  • Practice focused breathing. Breath in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 3, and exhale for a count of 6.

I have a whole post about how to deal with the stress of infertility available here where I go into more detail.

Periods after egg retrieval?

So this depends on what kind of IVF cycle you’re doing and what medications you’re taking.

For my fresh transfer cycles, I began progesterone after retrieval. I did embryo transfers on day 5 and then had a blood draw pregnancy test 2 weeks after the transfer.

I got my period after stopping the progesterone, both when using the vaginal suppositories and progesterone in oil. So about 2 and a half weeks after egg retrieval.

For my most recent egg retrieval, I stopped all medication since we did genetic testing and all the embryos were frozen.

We knew we wanted to wait for an embryo transfer until after my endometriosis excision surgery. I got my period one week after that egg retrieval.

I did not experience more cramping or bleeding compared to non-medicated cycles.

You’ve got this!

I hope this post has helped you to feel more prepared for your IVF egg retrieval and recovery. It’s really exciting to reach this point in the IVF cycle. You’re one step closer to that baby in your arms. 

Next up will be your embryo transfer. Check out this post for affirmations for embryo implantation.

If you’re going to be doing progesterone in oil shots then check out these tips

I’m so proud of you!

script font with Katy

Save for Later:

egg retrieval for IVF tips recovery. Woman sitting on couch with coffee cup.
Katy from Katydidliving.com

Hi, my name is Katy. I started this blog to help you infuse life with ease and joy by sharing recipes and tips for your fertility and lifestyle.

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