Egg Collection. It’s almost exactly two years ago that I went into theatre on a very, very hot July day. It’s a big part of the IVF process and one that I was most nervous about. Ultimately its the most important part (except for the transfer) as it can stop your cycle progressing to the next stage.
Due to my PCOS and high AMH count (ovarian reserve) I wasn’t worried about producing eggs, it was more of a concern to not to get OHSS (Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) and I was very carefully monitored throughout my IVF cycle with plenty of scans to check that I wasn’t producing too many eggs. It really is quality over quantity and a high number of eggs doesn’t always mean they will all divide and fertilise.
My egg collection was scheduled for the 1st July 2015 and coincided with the hottest day of the year so far. It was over 30 degrees but as I had to be at the hospital for 6am it was still relatively cool. From the last scan I had we knew I had over 20 follicles on my ovaries but you never feel completely relieved until the procedure is done. I was very nervous waiting in my room but excited to get started, the anticipation of finding out how many eggs we would have and knowing in less than a week we would hopefully have our embryo transfer complete.
Picture of me with below being prepped before going into theatre.
My eggs were to be collected at our clinic in Surrey then taken by my husband to our embryologist in Harley Street. This is quite standard for quite a few clinics and worth checking if something you don’t feel comfortable with. My mum came into theatre with me whilst Phil waited in our room so he could take the incubator of my eggs as soon as they were collected. The eggs are collected via a catheter, I was given a heavy sedation and although I felt some discomfort during the process I don’t really remember much. Mum was stroking my hand and I remember talking to my consultant and that was it, then I was being wheeled back into my room and I was greeted with the news that they had collected 22 eggs.
My stomach definitely felt swollen, I was on pethidine so the pain was bearable but I felt bloated and uncomfortable. By the time the sedation had worn off Phil was well on his way to London and I hadn’t seen him when I returned to my room. He started out in a cab but was soon dropped at the train station due to traffic. There is a time limit to get to the embryologist so he couldn’t risk getting stuck for hours in traffic. It’s still makes me chuckle thinking about him sitting on the train with all my eggs in what were essentially large cool bags!
I was in good spirits after and just rested in my room, mum and I watching Wimbledon on the tv.
Phil returned back to the hospital (after doing his bit?!!!!) a few hours later and I was discharged around 4pm which was a little later than usual as my bp kept dropping and I felt very faint every time I stood up. It wasn’t a long journey home though so I was soon tucked up on the sofa resting. Phil made me scrambled eggs on toast (no joke) we thought that would be rather apt. I was a little worried about OHSS but my consultant gave me some tablets to help reduce this, so I had a fairly comfortable night. We woke to the great news in the morning when the embryologist phoned to say 11 eggs had fertilised. That seems quite a drop from the 22 that were collected but not all eggs may be viable which is why quality over quantity is so important.
We were thrilled with 11 and then 24 hours after that we were told 8 had continued to develop. It was then we were told they were confident we would have a day 5 transfer and reach blastocyst stage. Embyros can be cultured for up to 6 days until they become blastocysts and at this stage it may be easier to select the best quality embryo. I felt pretty rough in the days after, sore and swollen (picture below) I looked about 4 months pregnant! A scan with our consultant 48 hours after the collection confirmed all looked ok for the transfer and we were booked in for 11am on 6th July.
I will blog another post about our embryo transfer but I just wanted to give my experience of my egg collection as I was really nervous before and would like to give reassurance to anyone about to have theirs. Although an uncomfortable proceedure it was over a lot quicker than I anticipated. I spent the initial 48 hours after resting and drinking lots of fluids but for some women I know they felt physically ok within 24 hours. I guess it depends how many eggs are collected as to how sore and uncomfortable you feel. It is important to be aware of OHSS and have your hospital tell you the signs and symptons to look out for.
I still find it amazing almost 2 years later we have our 15 month old Austin. I am so grateful the IVF process exists and through such science I was able to become a mum.