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Hull & East Riding Fertility

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Egg Collection

IVF Step 5: Ovum Retrieval

This procedure is also called “oocyte capture” and “egg collection.”

Normally after ten to fourteen days of stimulation the follicles should be large enough and mature enough for ovum retrieval.  We can normally give two to three days notice for the procedure.

You will be given instructions by one of the nurses when you attend for the last ultrasound scan prior to your trigger.  We will also give you details in writing so you can be sure of everything you have to do.

Instructions include:

You will be given all the drugs you need to prepare for ovum retrieval at your last scan appointment.

Day of ovum retrieval – male partner –

On the day of your ovum retrieval you are providing a fresh semen sample, the male partner will be taken to a private room to produce the semen sample for the IVF/ICSI treatment. A sample pot will be provided and labelled.  No other pot will be accepted.   Your partner will be taken to the dedicated room in the Unit for the production of semen and left in privacy. Our advice is, in order to produce the best quality sperm, that the male partner should abstain from intercourse or masturbation for 3-6 days before the ovum retrieval procedure.

Day of ovum retrieval – female partner –

The ovum retrieval is normally carried out in the treatment room at Hull & East Riding Fertility under ultrasound guidance.  Your a partner, relative or a friend can stay with you throughout the procedure if you wish.  The team will check your identification details and confirm any allergies before starting the procedure.

The ovum retrieval (OR) procedures are normally performed by either a nurse trained to perform the procedure, or a qualified medical practitioner.

A nurse will sit with you to administer a sedative and painkilling drugs, directly into the blood steam through a cannula. It takes about one minute for the drugs to take effect and they can be topped up by the nurse if needed. Oxygen will be administered continuously through nasal catheters throughout the procedure. A blood pressure machine will continuously monitor your oxygen levels, blood pressure and pulse. The procedure will not start until you are ready and feeling very relaxed.

A needle is attached alongside the vaginal ultrasound probe and the vaginal skin at the top of the vagina is punctured. The tip of the needle can be clearly seen on the ultrasound monitor screen at all times.  You can see this on the screen if you wish.  The tip of the needle is carefully guided into each follicle in turn.  The fluid is then aspirated and handed over to the laboratory staff.  They will examine it for the presence of an egg.  Frequently the egg is not seen in the aspirate from the follicle, in which case the follicle is flushed with fluid.  Although every effort will be made to find an egg in each follicle, this will not always be possible.  The procedure will be repeated on the other side for the other ovary.  The time taken to carry out the ovum retrieval averages approximately 20 minutes and mainly depends upon the number of follicles present.

After the procedure, you can rest in the recovery room until you feel well enough to go home.  This can be any time from half an hour to an hour. Tea/coffee and biscuits are provided for you. If required, the main hospital cafe available to purchase food/beverages from.

You should not return to work on the same day as the procedure.

You will not be able to drive, as the medication you have taken can make you very drowsy.

Avoid cooking until the morning after the procedure to help avoid accidents.

In very few cases, ovum retrieval will be carried out vaginally or by laparoscopy in the operating theatre and with the help of a general anaesthetic.

What happens to the eggs and sperm in the laboratory?

Your eggs will be taken to the laboratory as they are collected. Your partner’s sperm will also be processed in the laboratory. They will be looked after by our  dedicated team of embryologists. The eggs and sperm will be kept separately in an incubator. This is a special cupboard that keeps the temperature and chemical conditions around the eggs and sperm similar to conditions found naturally in the body.

A few hours after your egg collection procedure has taken place, the embryologist will mix your eggs with your partner’s sperm. The dish containing the eggs and sperm will then be returned to the incubator to allow fertilisation to take place.

The egg is said to be “fertilised” when a single sperm has burrowed its way through the tough outer coating of the egg. When the sperm reaches the core of the egg, it tells the egg to divide into two cells. These cells then divide again and keep dividing each day until a tiny ball of cells is formed. This ball of cells is the earliest stage in the growth of a baby. It is called an “embryo.”

We will telephone you to let you know if your eggs have fertilised or not. You can expect this call 2-3 days after your egg collection procedure has taken place.

Page Last Modified: 21st March 2017


The Hull Andrology Unit has relocated its services from Hull Royal Infirmary to a new purpose built facility on the Hesslewood Office Park from Friday 1st October 2021.

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