Post-Egg Retrieval: What To Expect After Egg Freezing

So you do all these preparations to freeze your eggs or prepare for an egg transfer if you are doing IVF but what can you expect AFTER your egg retrieval? How will you feel? When can you return to exercising again?

When I froze my eggs, I was unprepared for how I would feel after. Yes, I had the heating pad and electrolytes post-procedure but not the proper guidance on the seesaw of hormonal changes I would feel.

I believe I experienced post-egg retrieval depression. I wrote in my post about my egg freezing journey that I literally could not stop crying for days and didn’t feel like myself for a few after my egg retrieval.

I have NO REGRETS about freezing my eggs and I still highly recommend it for young women but I think it’s important to be aware of the entire process from beginning to end.

I’ve researched this topic a lot and have spoken to about a dozen women who have undergone egg retrieval. I hope the tips, advice, and resources in this post can serve as a guide for you if you are on your own fertility journey.

What does the egg retrieval procedure entail?

The egg retrieval outpatient procedure retrieves eggs from a woman’s ovaries and is typically done under anesthesia to minimize discomfort and pain for the patient.

During the egg retrieval procedure, a long thin needle is inserted into the vaginal wall to extract the mature eggs from your ovarian follicles using a gentle suction. The procedure is quick and typically takes about 20-30 minutes. Typically, the next day the embryology lab will call you to give you the number of eggs that were mature. If you are doing a full-cycle of IVF then you can move forward with developing a treatment plan of creating embryos with a sperm sample.

What to expect when you wake up from your egg retrieval

After the procedure, you’ll be monitored for a short period of time in your clinic’s recovery area. You may have mild abdominal pain or cramping after the anesthesia wears off. You can take over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or your care team may prescribe you pain medication to be picked up at a pharmacy.

You will not be able to drive home for the rest of the day because you were under light sedation. I had to have a responsible adult with me in my recovery room before I could be discharged.

Just take it easy and avoid strenuous activities for the remainder of the day.

It is normal to experience some breast tenderness, spotting, or light bleeding after the procedure. I was still very bloated over the next couple of days too.

Your fertility specialist will most likely advise you to consume foods and drinks high in nutrients and electrolytes after your egg retrieval. Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium, and I drank a ton of it after my egg retrieval. Also, bone broth is great too!

When can you back to work after an egg retrieval?

Take time to rest and allow your body to heal. My fertility clinic gave me a doctor’s note so I could take up to three days off of work. I had my retrieval on a Wednesday so I essentially had a long weekend. I was working from home at the time so I didn’t need to worry about commuting into an office.

Honestly, I felt like I could’ve worked the day after my retrieval (doing computer work) but I’m glad I had the time off. Talk to your doctor and request a note (even if you end up not needing to use it).

When can you exercise after an egg retrieval?

After an egg retrieval, you need to give your ovaries time to shrink and go back to their normal size before resuming your exercise and fitness routine.

While individual recovery times may vary, most women can safely start light to moderate exercise about one week or two after the procedure. I’d be wary of heavy lifting or HIIT exercises. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before resuming any physical activity.

According to a study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, researchers found that most women who underwent egg retrieval experienced mild discomfort and bloating for a few days following the procedure. However, after a week, the discomfort decreased, and they were able to resume normal activities, including exercise.

It is important to listen to the body and not push too hard too soon.

Will you experience weight gain?

After an egg retrieval or egg freezing, some women may experience temporary weight gain. This can happen due to bloating and water retention caused by the medications used to stimulate egg production. This typically subsides once your body returns to its normal hormone levels. Here’s a blog post I wrote all about egg freezing and weight gain.

Risks and complications of the egg retrieval

  • One common symptom you may experience after an egg retrieval procedure is cramping, which can occur as a result of the manipulation and removal of the eggs from the ovaries.
  • Discharge and light to moderate bleeding is another potential side effect. If you have significant bleeding and clotting, it’s advised to reach out to your clinic and seek medical attention.
  • Constipation can happen due to the use of anesthesia and your body’s response to the procedure.
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a more serious complication that can occur and is characterized by enlarged ovaries and fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Below I discuss OHSS in more detail including its symptoms.

Though it doesn’t happen often, other potential complications include infection and damage to surrounding organs or tissues. It is important for you to discuss these potential risks with your reproductive endocrinologist and to carefully follow your post-procedure care instructions and what the specific protocol would be in this situation.

Related post: Freezing your eggs with an IUD

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a condition that can occur in women who are undergoing fertility treatments, like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing.

Basically, when a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to produce eggs for fertility treatments, sometimes they can become swollen and painful, and she might experience bloating, nausea, severe pain, and difficulty breathing. This is OHSS.

Women who are more likely to develop OHSS are usually those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or who have a high number of follicles in their ovaries. It can be pretty uncomfortable and even dangerous, so it’s important to look out for the symptoms if you’re undergoing fertility treatments and have a family member or close friend be aware of what could happen too.

There was an NIH study published that looked at the effects of different treatments for OHSS.

They found that in more severe cases, hospitalization and intravenous fluids might be necessary to manage the symptoms.

In less severe cases, medications like anti-nausea drugs and pain relievers could be used to help with the discomfort. It’s definitely something to discuss with your doctor.

My clinic followed up with me a day after my procedure to see if I was experiencing any of these symptoms. If you have someone taking care of you after your retrieval, tell them about the symptoms of OHSS too so they can be aware.

Your first menstrual cycle after egg retrieval

After undergoing an egg retrieval procedure and freezing my eggs, my first menstrual cycle was slightly different than usual. You can expect it within 2 weeks after the retrieval.

However, mine came after 5 days! I was a bit shocked that it happened so soon to be honest but my nurse said it was normal and to still take it easy exercise-wise for the next couple of weeks.

I did notice that my period was slightly heavier than normal. This is a common occurrence after an egg retrieval due to the hormonal stimulation and the adjustment of my body’s natural cycle.

The increased blood flow and cramping were to be expected as my body adjusted to the changes from the procedure.

Overall, the menstrual cycle after egg retrieval was not drastically different and it was still the length of time I was used to. My second period went back to normal.

Related post: What to know about the trigger shot

Your emotions after egg freezing/an egg retrieval

Like, I wrote at the beginning of this post, I didn’t feel like myself for a couple of weeks after my egg retrieval. It didn’t feel like PMS symptoms but definitely did feel hormonal. My desk was covered in tissues from crying and my eyes were so red and puffy. I canceled hanging out with friends and happy hour plans because I felt so weird and off.

No one warned me that I could potentially feel this way from the fertility medications. But after talking to other women I found that it’s totally normal to feel a whole bunch of emotions.

My emotions were all over the place after I froze my eggs

First off, there’s the physical recovery, which can be a bit rough. You might feel tired, sore, and maybe a little groggy from the anesthesia. But emotionally, it’s common to feel a mix of relief, anxiety, and even a bit of sadness.

On one hand, you’re relieved that the procedure is over and hopeful that it’s one step closer to achieving your fertility goals. But on the other hand, there’s this underlying anxiety about the outcome and the uncertainty of it all. It’s totally understandable to feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole process.

As for hormonal depression, it’s definitely possible. The hormone injections and fluctuations can mess with your emotions and make you feel more sensitive or down than usual.

It’s important to be gentle with yourself during this time and seek support if you need it. Talking to a therapist or counselor can be super helpful in navigating these emotions.

So, give yourself some grace, take it easy, and remember that it’s okay to feel all the feelings. No matter the number of eggs that are retrieved, you’re doing something incredibly brave and important, and it’s totally okay to have a rollercoaster of emotions along the way.

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