I’ve now done two egg retrieval cycles. Given that I had a zillion questions before I started, I thought I’d share my notes for others who might have similar questions.

Things I would’ve loved to know beforehand

  • Overall the process was way easier and less intense than I expected. It was mostly annoying, because I had to go to tons of doctor’s appointments and get my blood drawn multiple times a week, but in terms of symptoms and pain it was very low key.
    • I also had a very serious hand injury and series of three surgeries shortly before starting this process, so this may have felt minor in comparison.
    • A lot of people report IVF being very difficult and uncomfortable, and I also may have just gotten lucky. But I wanted to share my experience so people can understand the range.
  • Shockingly, I came to look forward to the injections each night. This was shocking because before this, I had a medium phobia of needles. Mixing the medications is a relaxing process (took ~20 mins each time), and I’d always feel really proud of myself after doing the injection. To be clear, I never enjoyed doing the injection itself, and the very first time it was really scary, but I was really proud of myself for how quickly I got used to it. Neuroplasticity for the win!
  • Symptoms during/after the retrieval:
    • After the first 4-5 days, I had minor discomfort in abdomen if I moved or bounced, but really almost nothing.
    • Slightly more acne for the first round, but not the second. Maybe because I had to go off Tretinoin? Or maybe because of hormones?
    • The day of the retrieval itself, I felt groggy and sleepy and ended up napping all afternoon. The very next day after, I was up and about and felt almost totally normal, to the point where I was already gardening and lifting heavy things (which in retrospect was probably pushing myself sooner than I should have, but I think it turned out fine!).
  • Things to know regarding medications:
    • Prenatal vitamins – wish I’d started sooner the first time around; the longer you do them ahead of time, the better. The second round I started them sooner.
    • Since I am young and had a particularly large number of eggs, I’m at higher risk of OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome), so they gave me meds to reduce that risk. I believe the category of drugs is called "GnRH antagonists". If you have a lot of follicles, make sure they give it to you. A friend of mine didn’t get it for her first round, and she got OHSS and her recovery was awful; when she did her second round, they gave it to her, and it was way better.
  • The genetic reports (PGT-*) take a while to receive (as you can see in the calendar below).
  • The funnel math is brutal from eggs → fertilized → frozen → genetic testing → implantation. Make sure you understand it well, otherwise you may be very disappointed and surprised by the results, even if you get a ton of eggs!

One thing I was surprised to not have more information ahead of time was the scheduled of appointments and medications I would be taking. The dosage and timing of everything are determined based on your day-to-day blood test results, but I thought there would at least be some example calendars I could look at to get a sense of the rhythm to expect. Nope!

So for anyone who's looking for the same thing I was, below you'll find the calendars of the two retrieval cycles I've gone through (and here's a link to the Google Doc, in case that's easier to read).

Round 1 calendar: June 2023

Round 2 calendar: March 2024