Oocyte retrieval is carried out in surgery, in a sterile environment. The anesthesiologist administers a very mild intravenous sedation to the patient; thus, she feels absolutely no pain during oocyte retrieval.
Oocyte retrieval is performed under ultrasound guidance, which allows the doctor to see follicles in each ovary. Follicular aspiration is performed with the use of a special needle. Follicular fluid is collected and the embryologist examines it under the microscope. Oocytes are detected, retrieved and transferred into special Petri dishes (small laboratory plates) that contain a culture medium. Then, they are placed in special incubators under the ideal conditions in terms of temperature, humidity, etc.
Following oocyte retrieval, the patient rests for a while before she returns home. Usually, she feels no pain; however, she may take a simple painkiller – e.g. paracetamol – if needed.
In rare cases, there is a possibility of producing no oocytes following ovarian stimulation. Then, the IVF cycle is cancelled. Also in rare cases, ovaries may overreact to medication, thus producing too many follicles. This is called “ovarian hyperstimulation” and the patient has symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Oocyte retrieval complications
• Mild or moderate discomfort, usually due to intravenous sedation,
• Bleeding from the ovary or the vagina during or after oocyte retrieval. Usually, bleeding is minimal, totally controlled and might create a problem only in rare cases.
• Infection is a rare complication, and may be treated with antibiotics.
• Injury of the urinary bladder, the bowel or blood vessels during oocyte retrieval is an extremely rare complication.