For successful IVF, egg retrieval of a healthy number of mature eggs is important. Follicles are sacs filled with fluid and are in the woman’s ovaries. All women have them and each follicle contains an immature egg at its centre. Each month a number of follicles will develop due to certain hormones. The strongest follicle attracts the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The hormone FSH is produced by the pituitary gland. Ovulation then occurs when the hormone breaks down the follicle to release the egg and whatever fragments of the follicle left will die off.
In order for IVF to success, more than one mature egg is required. The endocrinologist aims to remove all the viable follicles for fertilization. Hormone based medications are given to women to stimulate more production of the viable follicles artificially. The hormones can be injected using subcutaneous injections or consumed orally. This happens for about 10 days.
The timing of egg retrieval is very important. Overdeveloped follicles mean the eggs will be too mature for fertilization. An ultra sound is done to monitor the development of the follicles and at the right time, egg retrieval can begin.
Egg retrieval is usually a simple process and is done in hospitals or fertility clinics. The process involves the removal of the follicles from the ovaries with a follicle aspirator. Doctors insert a needle on the top part of the vagina to the ovaries and suction the follicles out.
The doctor uses a transvaginal ultrasound to direct the needle to the right spot. Anesthesia is used so that the woman feels no pain during the whole process. The follicles are then examined under a microscope to check for viable eggs and if present, the egg follicles are put in an incubator.
The egg retrieval process usually last for about half an hour and retrieves 5- 20 eggs depending on the woman’s age or effect of the fertility medications. After the process, one might feels tender in the abdomen and there might be some light vaginal spotting which is usually quite normal. After two hours of rest, the woman are allowed to go home and given antibiotics to prevent any infections.
The doctor mixes the viable eggs with the donor sperms. This could be from the partner or from the sperm bank. Once they are mixed, they are cultured until the time they are checked for fertilization. The result of this combination is what we call an embryo. IVF can then take place 48 -72 hours after egg retrieval.
Consult with your physician about the whole process. In addition, get to know what you will need to do on your part to be well prepared. You can research by going through all the materials that are available through several channels.
It is also good to prepared for the fact that the implantation may not take place if the egg is not fertilized. However, one should never lose hope as they can always try again until they are successful.