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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Round 2 (IVM): Step 3 - Egg Retrieval / Collection

I have had 2 ultrasounds already, and a third is scheduled for tomorrow and things are going extremely well this time around. So, the time has come! I should be going in for Step 3 within the next few days; probably Christmas Eve or Christmas Day from the looks of things. Must be all those fingers and toes crossed around the world for us!

When I first heard the terms “egg retrieval” and “collection” all I could think of was the Easter Bunny for some reason (I know... my head doesn’t always think right). However, once I found out that the more technical term for the procedure is “follicle aspiration” I became quite content with the term “collection”.

So now that we have settled on a term... what is it?

Inside the ovary, there are numerous fluid filled follicles in which eggs develop – also known as cysts. With ultrasound, each follicle can be seen and measured. Once a follicle reaches around 18mm, it is considered to be a mature follicle – one which will release an egg for fertilization. In my case, I have trouble reaching this size so my eggs will be collected (at around 10-12mm) and further matured in a lab rather than inside my body. This is where IVM begins. When doing IVF, matured eggs are collected.

Where I go for treatment, women are mostly awake for this procedure. An IV drip is given but it does not nearly knock you out from what I have been told. Great if you want to watch, horrible if you cannot handle the pain. A thin needle attached to a catheter with a test tube on the end is passed through the top of the you-know-what (ask me if you don’t) and, with help from ultrasound, is guided to the ovaries. The needle pierces the ovary at each follicle and the fluid is aspirated (drained) through the needle. The egg also detaches from the follicle wall and flows with the fluid into the test tube. It seems to take about a minute or so per follicle from what I understand. It doesn’t sound like long, but when you have PCOS you have multiple follicles which means I could be there for a good half hour or so. Thankfully, DH should be with me this time around!

The fluid with the eggs is passed to the lab where the eggs are taken out and placed in small dishes kept in special incubators to continue growing and maturing. Repronex (hormones) will also be added to help the eggs mature (which cost 340$ for one dose I just found out – yikes!).

If you are interested, you can find some pretty detailed information about this process as well as images here. This is not where I go for treatment but I liked the amount of information they give.

Also, during this time, the lab is supposed to contact you daily to give you a progress report on how your eggs are doing. If all goes well, ICSI should be preformed within a couple of days. More information about ICSI and the following steps to come once I know more about what is going on!