Understanding Ovum Pick-Up
- Published on August 12, 2022
What is ovum pick-up?
Ovum pick-up is the retrieval of oocytes or eggs from a woman’s ovaries as a part of the fertility treatment process. The eggs are then fertilised outside the body using IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
The simple definition of Ovum pick-up is that it is a short procedure in which the eggs are collected from the ovarian follicles with a needle. It is a surgical procedure that is not usually painful or complicated.
It is also known as follicle puncture in medical terminology.
Ovum pick-up is an important part of fertility treatment. The mature eggs collected from your ovaries can be fertilised using your partner’s sperm or sperm provided by a donor. If you are the egg donor, then ovum pick-up is the procedure through which your eggs will be retreived and used.
Ovum pick-up is also useful for older women looking to preserve their eggs.
How to prepare for ovum pick-up?
There are various steps that you need to follow before your ovum pick-up procedure. These are given below.
– Check-up and tests
You may have to undergo fertility tests and discuss the fertility treatment process with your fertility specialist or OBGYN. Once you have understood what is involved, you may have to undergo certain tests before you go ahead with the ovum-pick-up procedure and the fertility treatment.
Your OBGYN may suggest various tests that have to be carried out to check the condition of your general health.
– Hormone injections
You will be given hormone injections in the cycle leading up to the ovum pick-up. The final injection, known as the trigger, will be given just before the procedure (around 36 hours or less).
Overnight fasting is required if you are undergoing the procedure in the morning. Otherwise, you should be fasting for 6 hours without drinking liquids for a minimum of 4 hours.
You should also not take any medications except for certain kinds of medication, such as those needed for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart condition, and thyroid condition.
– Monitoring of follicles
As a part of the treatment process, there will be regular monitoring of your follicles so that the ovum pick-up can be scheduled at the right time.
The ovum pick-up is carried out just before ovulation so that your mature eggs can be removed before you ovulate.
– Trigger injection
You will also need to get an HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone injection around 24-36 hours before the procedure.
This is the final trigger injection mentioned earlier. It ensures that you do not ovulate before the procedure.
Before the ovum pick-up procedure
Before the ovum pick-up procedure, you may have to undergo an interview or fill out a form where you will be asked about your health condition and your partner’s health conditions.
In this, you can mention any health issues you are facing. If you are feeling unwell or nauseous, if your stomach is upset, or if you are running a fever, you will have to communicate this.
A needle (called a venous catheter) will be inserted into your vein to administer certain medications or fluids that are required for the procedure.
Before the procedure, you will need to visit the restroom so that your bladder is empty. This makes it easier to puncture the tissue with the needle.
What to expect during the ovum pick-up?
First, you will be put under anaesthesia, so you do not feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. The procedure may be done under general anaesthesia or local (intravenous) anaesthesia.
The gynaecologist or gynaecological surgeon will then carry out the procedure. The procedure may last around 20 to 30 minutes but can also be quicker.
A long, thin needle is inserted through the vaginal opening under ultrasound guidance during the procedure. The ultrasound helps to find the ovaries and follicles. For the ovum pick-up, a needle is inserted gently into the follicles to collect the follicular liquid, which contains the eggs.
The procedure is usually painless.
If your partner is providing his sperm for the IVF fertilisation of your eggs, then he will have to provide his semen to the clinic for the IVF fertilisation. This may be the day of the ovum pick-up itself. It can also be done after it.
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure, you will have a short rest so that the effects of the anaesthesia wear off. The venous catheter will be removed from your body.
Avoid travelling a long distance and make sure you do not drive yourself. The effects of the intravenous medications will take time to wear off completely. You can eat regular food after the ovum pick-up.
There are usually no serious symptoms after ovum pick-up. Some mild side effects you may experience are light vaginal bleeding or spotting. Apart from this, if you do experience symptoms, they may include:
- Feeling thirsty or feeling dryness in the mouth
- Pain, soreness, or heaviness in the pelvic area
- In rare cases, there can be nausea
If you experience any serious side effects such as severe pain in the lower abdomen, passing out, more than mild vaginal bleeding, or fever, you should visit the clinic at the soonest.
Some precautions after ovum pick-up are:
- Avoid driving yourself to work
- Avoid doing any work on the day of the ovum pick-up
- Avoid activities where you have to be in water such as a bath or swimming for some days
- Avoid intercourse for several days until the vagina heals
The fertility treatment process can help you produce the mature eggs you need and then have them retrieved at the right time through ovum pick-up. They will then be fertilised through IVF.
If you and your partner are concerned about your fertility, visit a fertility treatment clinic. You can get the specific fertility tests that you need based on your concerns and conditions.
For the best fertility treatment and care, visit Birla Fertility and IVF or book an appointment with Dr. Radhika Bajpai.
1. What does ovum pick-up mean?
Ovum pick-up in IVF means retrieving the matured eggs or oocytes from the follicles in your ovaries. A needle is inserted into the follicles to pick up the follicular liquid containing the matured eggs.
2. How many eggs do you get at retrieval?
The number differs between different cases of egg retrieval. On average, about ten eggs may be retrieved from the follicles. However, keep in mind that not all the eggs retrieved will be mature. This also depends on the age and health of the woman.
3. Are you awake during egg retrieval?
You are under anaesthesia during the egg retrieval process, so you are not awake. You will not feel the procedure while it is happening.
4. How long does it take to recover from egg retrieval?
It can take several days for you to heal from the ovum pick-up procedure. You will have to follow certain precautions while the vagina heals. However, you should be able to go about your regular work a day or two after the procedure. The effects of the medications you are given for the procedure will wear out in a day.
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Dr Radhika Bajpai
Dr Radhika Bajpai is an internationally trained obstetrician-gynaecologist and reproductive medicine specialist. Dr Bajpai has trained and worked at some of the most reputed medical institutions in India and abroad like ARC Fertility & Research center, AIIMS, University of Connecticutand Pecos County Memorial Hospital (Texas).Over 9 years of experience
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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