Embarking on the journey of fertility treatments, particularly egg freezing or in vitro fertilisation (IVF), often involves the egg retrieval procedure. While the idea of medical procedures may evoke concerns, understanding the process and pain management options is essential for individuals considering or undergoing egg retrieval. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of the egg retrieval procedure, addressing the common question: Is the egg retrieval procedure painful?
The Egg Retrieval Procedure: An Overview
The egg retrieval procedure is a key step in fertility treatments like IVF and egg freezing. It involves the extraction of mature eggs from the ovaries for use in assisted reproductive technologies. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the procedure:
Ovarian Induction: Before egg retrieval, individuals typically undergo ovarian stimulation with fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
Follicle Monitoring: The growth of ovarian follicles is monitored through ultrasounds and blood tests to determine the optimal time for egg retrieval.
Trigger Shot: When the follicles are deemed mature, a “trigger shot” of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is administered to induce final maturation of the eggs.
Egg Retrieval: Approximately 36 hours after the trigger shot, the egg retrieval procedure takes place. It is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure conducted under sedation or anaesthesia.
Transvaginal Ultrasound-Guided Aspiration: A thin, hollow needle is inserted through the vaginal wall and guided by ultrasound to reach each mature follicle. The fluid containing the eggs is aspirated from the follicles.
Laboratory Processing: The retrieved eggs are then taken to the laboratory, where they are identified, evaluated, and prepared for fertilisation.
Pain Perception During Egg Retrieval:
The experience of pain during egg retrieval varies among individuals. Factors that can influence pain perception include:
Individual Pain Thresholds: Pain tolerance varies from person to person. Some individuals may experience minimal discomfort, while others may feel more intense sensations.
Use of Anaesthesia or Sedation: Most fertility clinics offer anaesthesia or conscious sedation during the procedure to ensure the individual’s comfort. Anaesthesia prevents pain perception, and individuals often have little to no memory of the procedure.
Number of Eggs Retrieved: The number of eggs retrieved can impact the duration of the procedure. A larger number of eggs may require more time, potentially influencing the overall experience.
Pain Management Options:
To minimise discomfort during and after egg retrieval, fertility clinics commonly offer pain management options such as:
Anaesthesia or Sedation: Administered by an anaesthesiologist, anaesthesia or sedation ensures that individuals remain comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure.
Local Anaesthesia: In some cases, local anaesthesia may be used to numb the vaginal area, reducing sensations during the transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration.
Post-Procedure Pain Relief: After the procedure, individuals may experience mild cramping or discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by the healthcare provider, can help manage post-procedure discomfort.
The egg retrieval procedure is generally well-tolerated with the use of anaesthesia or sedation. While discomfort is a subjective experience, advancements in fertility medicine prioritise patient comfort during these crucial steps in assisted reproductive technologies. Individuals considering or undergoing egg retrieval are encouraged to openly communicate with their healthcare team to discuss pain management options, address concerns, and ensure a positive and supportive experience on their fertility journey. Please contact us if you have any further questions about fertility treatments and egg retrieval.