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Tips on Surviving Egg Retrieval



Let me start this post by saying that everyone’s retrieval experience is different. I’m sure it has a lot to do with A. how many eggs they get, B. the size of your pelvis, C. your pain tolerance. For me:

A. They retrieved 27 eggs.
B.  I have a tiny pelvis. My hips are sort of a joke.
C. I have a high pain tolerance.

I also did not do a fresh transfer with my cycle due to my tendency to hyper stimulate so I did not have progesterone in my body post procedure. I’m not sure if that would have made things better or worse.

This is to say that my experience may not be like your experience. I do know that a lot of women shared similar frustrations saying they “wished their doctor had been a little more forthcoming about how rough retrieval is.” I hope that by sharing this list you will be a little more prepared in the event your retrieval is not a cakewalk.

Here are the things I wish I had been prepared for:

  • When a lot of eggs are harvested, the pain can be fierce. I came out of anesthesia writhing in pain. (see Letter C). The nurse immediately put morphine in my line to help. It was great for about an hour.
  • My doctor initially said that the majority of people are mostly recovered within 24 to 48 hours. I would like to know what his definition of “mostly” is because it certainly is not mine! I experienced all over abdominal pain, cramping and shortness of breath that did not let up until about Wednesday after a Saturday retrieval. I still have stabbing pains when I pee. The bloat did not back off until Friday. Bottom line I have heard from almost all women: It takes some time to heal. Be patient with your body and do not push it.
  • Anesthesia made me terribly ill. I was super nauseous and dizzy for about 24 hours. If you are sensitive, be prepared to hang out at home for the next day or two so you don’t toss your cookies in the Co-Op (I had a very near vomit experience in the middle of the hot bar at our co-op. You are not cool if you puke in the tofu scramble.)
  • The pain medication they gave me, Tramadol, made me itch like a bandit. I think this is a really rare side effect, but just be warned.
  • Prepare Mr. Husband to wait on you. I very rarely ask Mr. Husband to do things for me, but I’m so glad I did. It was so nice having help the first day and it let him feel he was more a part of this process.
  •  The first pee post-retrieval is scary, painful and tea colored and will make you think your kidney’s are failing. They are not.
  • After retrieval drink lots of fluids. This is something I did not do and is why my first pee was so scary. Flush your body of the anesthesia meds with water and sports drinks for the first few hours, then taper back and prepare for THE BLOAT OF DOOMMMM (see below).
  • No one warns you about the bloating. Had my doctor said, “Your gonna be bloated to the point you look like you are 4 months pregnant” I would have been better prepared. Before retrieval dig out a few super stretchy bottoms. My favs are these skirts from Old Navy with leggings underneath.
  • The post-retrieval constipation is no myth. Pre-emptive strike it with 4 pills of Colace in a.m. and p.m. for several days leading up and several days following. You will not regret it as straining while your ovaries are all angry from being needled is NOT fun times.
  • The memory-wiping drug they give you will make you wonder if they aspirated some brains with the eggs. I seriously felt like an idiot for the three days following surgery.
  • There will be NO RELATIONS with Mr. Husband for 7 to 10 days. This is so disappointing as I wanted nothing more than to be close to him after this experience. Opt for lots of snuggling instead.
  • All together it took 7 full days for me to be able to move around and do daily activities without any pain. Tomorrow, 9 days post, I get to return to spin class and on Tuesday I’ll get to take my first run.
  • You forget 95% of all the pain and misery as soon as your beautiful embryos are transferred (or in my case, frozen).

My retrieval was positively hellish. I know I’m in the minority due to the huge quantity of eggs they got, but still, be prepared for the worst so you can come back to this post later and mock me by saying “I love Tramadol, memory wiping medicine increased my IQ and I was back running and having “relations” with Mr. Husband in no time. Retrieval is easy and you are a sissy!”

What do you wish you had known before having a retrieval. If you have not yet done a retrieval, what are you most concerned about?



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  1. February 19, 2012

    My retrieval was similar to yours – 23 eggs. I woke up in a lot of pain and had insane bloating. I had no idea how painful it would be! They only told me to take tylenol too…no fun narcotics. Boooooo. Good tips!

  2. February 19, 2012

    I wish I had read a post like this before my retrieval! I did not think to buy stretchy clothes, so I’ve been wearing lower sitting pants and bulky tops to hide the I-wish-I-was-as-pregnant-as-I-look bloating!

    I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling better!

    • February 20, 2012

      Something I realized today is that although the bloating has left he premises, my ovaries are still really large giving me a little beer belly! Not pretty but at least recovery progress 🙂 Good luck with your recovery!

  3. February 19, 2012

    You are a super star for surviving that ordeal!!!

  4. February 19, 2012

    This post is fantastic! I’m sorry you were in so much pain. I agree that it is better to be prepared for the worse than to think it will be a breeze and then be knocked down for days. I hope you’re doing better! Thank you for sharing!

    • February 20, 2012

      I am feeling better, thank you! And I’m so glad this post was helpful!

  5. February 19, 2012

    I too felt totally unprepared for what egg retrieval would do to me. They gave me a little paper on ohss symptoms and what to watch for, but nobody said – oh by the way you are going to feel like you are dying and that your organs have exploded and are trying to get out of your body.
    I had 37 eggs the first retrieval, and 21 this time. I have to say this time around was so much better but the bloating and discomfort was still worse and much longer than I would have expected.

    • February 20, 2012

      37 eggs??? Holy smokes you are a tough lady!

  6. February 19, 2012

    Not only is each women’s retrieval different, but it can be different for one woman on each retrieval occasion. My first retrieval wasn’t so bad, but the 2nd one, wowzers! I was in pain, a lot like you described above and I had many less eggs than you.

    I’m sorry your doctor and/or nurse didn’t prepare you better for the possible outcomes of pain and discomfort. I don’t think I was prepared for it all, but I did have some clue as to how things could go.

    This is a great post you wrote and I’m sure it will help many others who are preparing to go through this. The most wonderful part is that you have frozen embryos!!! Can’t wait to read more.

  7. February 19, 2012

    With you on 90% of these belle. I didn’t have the peeing thing. But who IS the woman who can be up & about in 24 hours ???? It sure wasn’t me ! Admittedly I did a shuffly run day 3 post surgery, but that was always AFTER panadeine, and I sure as hell couldn’t go back to work!

  8. February 20, 2012

    It really sounds like retrieval was absolutely horrible for you. I’m glad that you are finally better and that you did avoid overstimulation!!
    It’s amazing how different the experience can be. Mine was nothing like this, but it must be the number of eggs that make the big difference since I only had 8. I did experience bloating and also the constipation, but they told me that was from the progesterone. I rested in bed on the day of retrieval, but was up and about the next day with only minor pain. They did not give me any pain medication to take afterwards, but told me to take normal paracetamol. I never took even one.

    I also did not have anesthesia which might be another factor in why it was less heavy afterwards. It seems to be the normal thing in mainland Europe to do retrieval without it. I was a bit scared beforehand about the prospect of being awake during the procedure, because from the blogs I was reading it seemed like everyone else was getting anesthesia. So I wish I had known it was nothing to worry about. They just gave me an injection for the pain etc. which made me groggy and hazy, but I was awake and followed along on the screen and the nurse was very good in getting me to take deep breaths and do my bit by breathing out as the doctor punctured each follicle.

    • February 20, 2012

      Irene you are a rockstar to do this while awake! I can’t even begin to fathom how scared you must have been. I was so scared I was shaking and I got to sleep through the entire process! I sure hope we never have to go through this again.

      • February 21, 2012

        They did put something to keep me calm in that injection 🙂 But yes lets hope we never have to go through it again!!

  9. February 20, 2012

    So far, I’ve only had one retrieval, with just five eggs and 9 follicles. It was pretty uncomfortable and bloated, even with that little bit of needling of the ovaries, so I can’t imagine how awful it was for you with 27! I’m hoping to have more eggs but not hoping for more discomfort with the next retrieval.

    Thanks for this post, btw. I think this kind of information is so helpful.

  10. K #
    February 20, 2012

    THANK YOU for this! I just started my first IVF cycle. So far, so good, but I haven’t gotten to the stimming yet. My greatest worry with the retrieval is the time I may have to miss from work. I also have a high pain tolerance and I can’t believe you were in so much pain! Still, I’d rather know what to expect that be surprised and scared. Good luck for the rest of this cycle.

  11. February 21, 2012

    Thank you!. I am hoping to start my first IVF so this is great information. Glad you’re feeling better. So excited for your transfer!

  12. Tina #
    March 13, 2012

    I also was awake for my egg retrieval, and while it was uncomfortable, it doesn’t compare to the pain I’m feeling now (5 hours later). It hurts when I pee and feels like I’m not emptying completely. Also, I can only lay on my back because every other way hurts too much. Sure hope this gets better soon…

  13. July 6, 2012

    London calling (Age 39) husband 41:

    13 follicles, at 4th follicular scan.Monday. 2nd July 2012

    Egg collection Wednesday. 5 eggs collected due to lack of access to left ovary and limited access to right (4 giant fibroids). Sedation not general anaesthetic ( allergic to morphine).

    Thursday, Constipation like you won’t believe. I’m eating liquorice and drinking peppermint tea, hoping for the best.

    Friday, Bloating is unsightly and embarrassing, but, what to do. I’ve been advised to avoid any medication, lots of water and a bit of jogging could get things going, fingers crossed.

    Of the five eggs, 4 fertilised. 3 grade 1 with four cells. 1 grade 1 with 3 cells. Decision to go for blastocyst transfer on Monday. Wish me luck!

  14. Katie #
    September 18, 2012

    I wish I had read this before my egg retrieval!!! They took 29 eggs from me, and I wasn’t at all prepared for the ridiculous pain. But they didn’t offer me morphine, or any other special meds. They just told me to get tylenol. Also, I asked the nurse if I’ll be constipated and she said that no I won’t and that that’s not normal…? It’s annoying how nurses/doctors try to tell you that you’ll be fine and that it won’t be that bad. I’m over the worst of the pain (I hope). I can sit up without crying, but now I can’t lay down. There is a really weird thing though–I have these horrible back cramps! I can’t lay backwards at all and if I try I get spasm after super painful spasm. Is that normal?? What do you do about the supposed constipation?

    I’m so grateful that there are forums like this! Thanks for posting your story.

    • September 18, 2012

      Oh Katie, I’m so sorry you are in so much discomfort! The constipation is a side effect from the anesthesia along with the high doses of Progesterone. I HIGHLY recommend some Colace, bran cereal and lots and lots of water. I hope you recover quickly and that all your pain is 100% worth it once you have your take home baby. xoxo

  15. Lya #
    September 27, 2012

    Belle, thank so much for this post!!!!
    We just converted our IUI cycle to IVF and due to the very short notice and preparation ( read none) I don’t have a clue of what to expect. I’m so glad I found this post! I’m a little worried because at my clinic it is NOT standard to get knocked out completely. I fully expect to pass out at some point though…

  16. Rickie #
    October 31, 2012

    Mine was similar to yours. I didn’t have much pain, just some mild cramping, but the bloating and constipation is horrible! I too had a high number of eggs (22 the first time, 24 this time) and have a small frame. This time I bought pajamas and a pair of jeans a size too big! Had to wear the hubby’s shorts last time! :/

  17. Jennifer #
    November 2, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I just had egg retrieval two days ago, and I was totally unprepared for how uncomfortable/pained I would feel. Knowing that this is normal and not a sign of dire straits is comforting. I do wish the doctors would be more honest about what we will feel though. A warning that is explicit (you will look like you are 6 months pregnant and feel like someone took a pick axe to your ovaries, bladder, and uterus. Oh, and it will get worse the second day so don’t be surprised) would have been helpful in preparing me for what came post egg retireval.

  18. Ashley #
    November 29, 2012

    I just finished with my second egg donor cycle. They retrieved 21 eggs the first time and 33 this time. The after-retrieval pain and bloating was so much worse this time around. My pain has subsided, but I still look semi-pregnant. I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this. The doctors definitely didn’t warn me about how uncomfortable the recovery is.

  19. Miranda #
    December 11, 2012

    I had my egg retrieval yesterday. They removed 20 eggs from me and I found out today that I have 15 fertilized embryos waiting for a 5-day transfer. I’m very uncomfortable, bloated, consitipated feeling. They gave me oxycodone for the pain and I took it and had the unfortunate nausea and vomiting that accompanies it. I’m hoping this is the only time I have to go through with this. I’m glad for pages like this. Thank you!!

  20. Superbonbon #
    December 18, 2012

    Has anyone had prolonged pain with urination? I am two weeks out and continue to have burning with urination. This is not the same kind of burning like you get with a UTI. I also have a very small amount of light bleeding with this, it comes and goes. I donated for a friend, 12 eggs. I did not have much discomfort after, lots of bloating. I’m thinking I may have been a little too active??

    • December 18, 2012

      First of all: You are a hell of an awesome friend. What an amazing gift to give. As for the burning, I’d call the doctor who did the retrieval and chat with his/her nurse. I would not call your GP as it seems they have no clue how the reproductive system or IVF works. Good luck to you and your friend!

  21. sai #
    January 3, 2013

    Glad I found this page. I’m 30, single, breast cancer and am doing egg retrieval before chemo starts. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF MY DOCS OR NURSES HAS TOLD ME OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST TWO MONTHS THAT THIS PROCEDURE WOULD BE PAINFUL. I feel shocked actually as they have all made it sound like post-retrieval I’d just have a lazy day of recovery at home and then be back on my feet. I have an ultrasound in the morning and will be asking MANY questions. I’m barely recovered from my lumpectomy. I hate that i have to subject my body to more and more rounds of pain.

    • TNBC #
      January 30, 2013

      I’m 34, recovering from single mastectomy. So little information was provided about what actually took place (umm I’m actually not even sure what the retrieval process consisted of). One of the worst medical experiences I’ve had. Time is tight and you are so busy trying to sort out all of the other things that you simply do as you’re told. Make them work for the thousands of dollars you will be paying them and ask lots of questions. I’m two days post retrieval (slept for almost 16 hours after), quite bloated with painful urination and general discomfort. I remember only two distinct painful pokes from the retrieval but I was right out of it despite the fact that I was supposed to be awake. Probably wouldn’t have hurt them to weigh me before they gave me the iv meds. 31 eggs retrieved, 14 eggs frozen, 9 embryos ( as of yesterday). Make sure to ask about Lupron to take while you’re doing your chemo. And best of luck! Keep it positive!

  22. Antwan Manis #
    January 5, 2013

    my abdominal pains are usually caused by bloating and indigestion, i better control my diet.’

    My own web site

  23. Fifi #
    February 4, 2013

    Thanks so much for the insight; I wish I read this article before my retrieval! I’m at 3 days post retrieval (18 eggs collected; only 13 were mature, now waiting on the 10 that successfully fertilized to reach the 5-day grow out) and I still feel just awful. Very painful abdomen and am unbelievably bloated; it looks terrible and feels worse!) I thought I was being a whiner until I read your experience. I too wish the doctors/nurses warned me that this part of the process is very hard, I didn’t expect it at all. Thanks again for the info!

  24. Lisa #
    March 25, 2013

    So glad I found this post. Just had my retrieval this morning (only 12 eggs though) and I was really shocked by the agonizing pain I woke up to. The nurse seemed surprised when I asked for something but I was in so much pain I couldn’t even speak. (And I have stage 4 endo so I can handle pain.) I was not at all prepared for it. I didn’t want to take painkillers but I broke down and took a Percoset a little while ago. Anyway, glad to hear I’m not the only one! I also did a freeze all cycle, so we have that in common too.

  25. Neva #
    April 1, 2013

    My retrieval was Saturday morning and my pain wasn’t severe, still isnt unbearable. But yes there is pain and its uncomfortable to walk fast or sit straight. They took 26 and had minimal bleeding. My pain meds are 500mg Vicodin and all they do is make me feel drunk so i started taking Ibuprofen 800mg, MUCH better pain releaver. I still am walking slow and am sensitive and swollen but again, its all bearable.

    Oh and the constipation SUCKS! There is enough pressure going on down there already so be prepared to drink a lot of juices or take stool softeners.

  26. Anna #
    April 19, 2013

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Belle!! I can’t tell you how much reading this has helped reassure me I’m not some blubbering sissy. Your words made me laugh and smile and feel comforted and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience so eloquently and with such humour. Sending you lots of positive energy, love and thanks, Anna xo

  27. Samantha #
    April 24, 2013

    THANKYOU EVERYONE for easing my hysteria. My doctor said, “You’ll be a little bloated, just take some Tylenol.” Little did I know I was going to look 12 months overdue, no be able to take a proper…. eh hem… poo… for over 5 days, and be so nauseous that I just didn’t feel like moving. I had 23 eggs retrieved, which I guess is about average from reading this thread. I am in college and had three tests the two days following my retrieval. AWFUL. But, despite the aftermath, it was a very rewarding experience! Thank you for the knowledge everyone!

  28. Sarah #
    May 1, 2013

    I had my egg retrieval on Monday and had no warning how awful I would feel. I was supposed to have retrieval this coming Friday but I was over stimulating (5 days on stim drugs) so they had to do it early. I had 18 eggs, 12 were ready and 10 fertilised. I was feeling awful in the lead up to the the operation: constipated and as if my overies were bumping about inside my body. I still feel rotten. I managed to walk to the doctors yesterday and what’s normally a 10 minute walk took 30. I was completely exhausted when I eventually got home and could hardly move the rest of the day.
    I was planning to go back to work today (based on what I was told pre op) but I don’t think I could sit up for that long and certainly couldn’t concentrate.
    I slept normally on the night of the op but last night kept waking up in pain. I was a bit worried that something wasn’t right and this would affect our implantation on Saturday but after reading about other people’s experiences I feel a lot better and more ‘normal’.
    We’re having pre genetic diagnosis so I’m hopeful that we still have a good number of viable embryos by Saturday.
    Good luck to everyone. 🙂

  29. recovering #
    May 9, 2013

    Wow…I wish I had found your blog back when I did my first retrieval in Jan 11…. all three of mine were exactly as you described to a tee, well, except for the part about Mr. Husband waiting on me, haha. But I think this last one was the worst, probably because I’ve aged two years and am now the ripe age of 44. We have a beautiful son, Cooper, from our second round of IVF so we are hoping this one makes him a sibling he so deserves. We won’t know for a few more weeks since we did CCS, so waiting for that call is tough. Best of luck to everyone!

  30. Sofine #
    May 12, 2013

    Hi beautiful,

    I love your sense of humour. Reading this article certainly gave me a laugh and made me feel better. I was just getting dressed to go to my local A & E eventhough I have an appointment at the IVF clinic tomorrow. That’s how scared I was until I read your insightful experience. It’s exactly one week since my egg retrieval but my abdomen and pelvic area hurts like hell, and I do look like I’m four months pregnant. Well… This was a mild IVF cycle which was my 3rd. I couldn’t progress further because, the only egg retrieved was immature and didn’t fertilize after 24hrs. So I have to pick myself up and start saving for Cycle 4. Thanks a lot for sharing this. The information is absolutely helpful.

  31. Sofine #
    May 12, 2013

    Hi beautiful,

    I love your sense of humour. Reading this article certainly gave me a laugh and made me feel better. I was just getting dressed to go to my local A & E eventhough I have an appointment at the IVF clinic tomorrow. That’s how scared I was until I read your insightful experience. It’s exactly one week since my egg retrieval but my abdomen and pelvic area hurts like hell, and I do look like I’m four months pregnant. Well… This was a mild IVF cycle which was my 3rd. I couldn’t progress further because, the only egg retrieved was immature and didn’t fertilize after 24hrs. So I have to pick myself up and start saving for Cycle 4. Thanks a lot for sharing this. The information is absolutely helpful. xx

  32. KC #
    May 13, 2013

    I feel a lot better reading this and seeing other people responses…THANK GOD. My first donation was so smooth, so effortless. In 2 days I was up and running (not literally) and had no pain whatsoever. It was a breeze. They took 18 eggs and I was in tip top shape. This time…Oh man…

    This doctor used different drugs, and a different trigger shot. My retrieval was 4 days ago and I still feel tight, tender, sore, and uncomfortable in my uterus, abdomen, and on my sides. I was worried that the pain higher than my uterus was abnormal, but from the looks of it…I am not alone in feeling like my organs are exploding. I had some slight pressure going to the bathroom, but otherwise, the pain is coming and going. At some points I am doing laundry and just feeling a little bloated, and today I can hardly walk without intense strain on my abdomen.

    I hope this doesnt last much longer…because my period should come in the next week. I cant imagine this pain combined with the first period after my retreival…I may swat planes from the sky…


    • Sara #
      June 15, 2013

      I am experiencing the same like you. I never had easier retrieval and I had them manyyy. A day after the retrieval, I went out and walked, as if I had never had the procedure. However, 5 days after, I felt like you – sore everything – sides, abdomen around the navel, mild pain that comes and goes. I don’t know what to think. Also, I haven’t been given any antibiotics after the retrieval. Some clinics abroad do that. Hopefully, these are the effects of ER only, although before, I used to be sore from the beginning and then the pain would vanish graduall.

  33. julia #
    May 16, 2013

    haha, wow! I feel a little less crazy 🙂

    Had my first egg retrieval today for a fresh IVF cycle. Wowzers…we got *44 eggs*, not sure how many are viable until they call us with the fertilization report tomorrow. I am in a fair amount of discomfort (nothing stronger than Tylenol for pain was suggested…boo…), and dealing with it. The scary part is that they said that I would be feeling the worst at around 48-72 hours b/c the follicles fill back up with fluid before this whole process resolves itself. I had this fantasy that I would be back to work tomorrow or Friday, but it sounds like everyone feels awful still at that point! Thanks for making me feel like I’m not a sissy/giving me a reality check 🙂

  34. Kate #
    June 18, 2013

    I had egg retrieval done yesterday.I had 15 follicles…5 have been fertilized. I stayed home all day yesterday…took 1 Percocet but that made me a little loopie. Today my tummy definitely feels uncomfortable and bloated. i’m glad to know other people are experiencing the same things. They didn’t really mention any of these symptoms so i decided to Google and found this. Very helpful. It seems like 99.9% of the time you are not alone. 🙂 Good luck to everyone!!! Hope too ask stay to feel better soon.

  35. Else #
    June 30, 2013

    So glad to see this posted. I thought I was the exception and something was wrong, got 13 eggs( Dr goes with quality over quantity) i woke up with intense pain went home and vomited for the next 5 hours. Thank goodness my husband called and got me pain meds and anti nausea meds.

  36. suri #
    July 16, 2013

    hey its my 2nd day post retrieval… 8 eggs retrieved…. and i’ve severe cramps …starting from my lower abdomen . lower back, thighs, calves, i can barely sit for 5 mins…i’m drinking lots of fluids and peeing every 5 mins….its tiring….i’m still sore and tomorrow is my ET…all 8 embryos are grade 1….fingers crossed

  37. Shannon #
    July 25, 2013

    This is my favorite egg retrieval blog; thank you so much for everything that everyone has written! My experience thus far has been crappy! Gosh are you girls right, the doctors do NOT warn you about what COULD happen post-retrieval. I was seriously under the impression that I was going to be fine two days out. Nope. Day 1 (Saturday, day of retrieval) I was actually feeling pretty good. I slept completely flat on my back, which apparently isn’t recommended (but no one told me), and now as a result I have some sharp pains near my ribs when I take my deepest breath, so looks like fluids seeped into my chest area…great! Day 2….the bloat arrived. Boy did it arrive. Not only did the bloat arrive making me look 4 months pregnant, but also my ovaries continued to feel HUGE, like huge. To the point where when I stand up and attempt to walk anywhere, I must hold them in place with my hand because I feel as if they’re going to pop OUT of my vagina – seriously! (sorry if that is/was TMI). But I WAS able to have my first bowl movement on Day 2, so that was a relief. It is now Day 5 – the week mark of when I took that damn HCG shot (today at 10pm). I’m still bloated as if I’m 4 months pregnant, and my ovaries are still large (I can both feel them lying down, and continue to have to hold them in when I stand up and walk). However, I guess good things are happening. I’m drinking so much freakin’ gatorade, that I’m peeing quite a bit (I guess that’s a good thing), I’ve maintained my weight (in fact yesterday I lost 3 pounds), and I’m not really in any pain. But ladies, my question to you is when did your ovaries go back to “normal or close to normal” size? When did your bloat start to go away? Did anything significant happen once you reached your 1 week mark with that darn HCG trigger shot? BTW, don’t know if this changes anything, but I’m using a surrogate, so once my retrieval was done, I too was also done, so no more progest…whatever it is. Oh and also they retrieved 14 eggs on my retrieval day. Thanks in advance for any assurance you can give me, or words for advice for this damn bloat and huge ovaries. 🙂

    • July 25, 2013

      Hey lady! Sorry your retrieval was so rough. It took about 3 weeks for the bloat to fully go away for me. When I had OHSS it took SIX entire weeks. Keep drinking your fluids and rummage out some comfy stretchy skirts. And more importantly – good luck!

  38. katiedelasrosas #
    August 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am 48 hours past a 33 egg retrieval and am hugely bloated, constipated, sore, miserable. Also had the pukes from the anesthesia. Wish I’d read this before. I was grossly underprepared for what an undertaking this is.

  39. Emily #
    August 12, 2013

    You ladies are so awesome! I can’t tell you how much reading your comments have helped! I am sitting on my couch 5 days after retrieval of 23 eggs. My doctor was very forthcoming about the bloating and constipation, but I had no idea how bad the pain could be! The first 36 hours were a breeze. I left the surgery center taking only advil and went to work as a gymnastics instructor the next morning (on very limited activity). That afternoon the pain hit. My doctor had given me a prescription for oxycodone which I had been determined not to take. My doctor sternly told me that she gave me the Rx. because everyone needs it and to please take it. Turns out it is common for the physician to hit small blood vessels in the ovaries when the do the retrieval and these can ooze for days causing severe pain. Therefore I am just now emerging from my narcotic-induced stupor three days later. On the constipation front, in the past 36 hours I have used Miralax, Milk of Magnesia (2 doses), Dulcolax suppositories, a Fleet enema, and Senna tea with very little result.

    I am, however, bursting with pride that my little embryos are growing right on schedule. Just knowing that they are there and doing well makes it all worth it. Bring on Morning Sickness!


  40. RB #
    August 16, 2013

    Thank you all for the information. I just had my first egg retrieval this morning, am in a lot of pain, and tylenol was all that was recommended. I’m sorry, but this hurts more than tylenol. Not that I’m happy that some of you guys have had the same sort of pain, but it is comforting knowing that I’m not the only one.

  41. Melissa Crabtree #
    August 20, 2013

    OMG – I wish I read this before my egg retrieval!
    My nurse kept saying how ppl go to work after the op and it all depends on my pain tolerance.
    So when I was in HORRIBLE pain for the first 3 days I felt ashamed.
    Today is day 5 and I finally feel normal again. Still bloated, but I’m able to walk a lot better.
    We need to go through a 2nd cycle, but at least I’ll be prepared – and feel reassured now after reading your blog.
    We need 7 embryos at Blasystis stage to be tested – fingers crossed I’m done after round 2!!
    Thank you.

  42. Ruth Hall #
    August 27, 2013

    So happy to find this as I was googling “egg retrieval constipation and bloating.” This is my third retrieval and the first which has been so uncomfortable. I also had 16 eggs retrieved as opposed to my usual 6-8. I am day 7 now and just starting to look like I am not very pregnant. Sometimes my bloating is so full and high I feel short of breath and certainly I have not had an appetite in a week! All for a good cause though, thanks for the words of wisdom!

  43. aliza #
    September 5, 2013

    I’m glad I saw this post. I was awake through my egg collection, my drugs started wearing off through the proceedure but was also on gas, though it made me groggy I could feel what was happening, I had 3 eggs collected only from 1 over. I was in so much agony after retrieval it took me 2hrs in recovery I was nauseous n couldn’t walk…I am day 3 past egg collection n still when I pee I cramp up n my belly is still swollen n my pelvic region is still tender .. I am going in today for my embryo transfer I will b talking to the nurses to make sure this pain won’t get in the way of our chance to have the embryo attach… I was not prepared for the after shock of collection that’s for sure..

  44. Jill #
    October 7, 2013

    This post could not have helped me more. I am going through all of this! I’m small framed at about 115 pounds. They retrieved 36 eggs and I have no been given any pain medication besides Tylenol. I have seriously been so uncomfortable . I’ve called my doctor in Canada and he insists that extra strength will do the trick. I am now 5 days post retrieval and feel like I’m carrying around bowling balls in my stomach. I’m tempted to go to another doctor for some pain relief. Not sure what to do. Thanks again.

  45. Aline #
    October 22, 2013

    Thank you for your letter, I got my eggs retrieved yesterday and my doctor dit not warn me about pain, he even said small discomfort. He said take 2 Panadol. The only way for me during past night to be calmed was to read you and discover same symptom and thus what I was experiencing at 2am was normal. So thank you.

  46. joellesk #
    November 10, 2013

    So glad to stumble upon this post! This is my first IVF cycle and I had my retrieval yesterday. I like to think I’m extremely tough and pain never gets me down. 🙂 Well after removing 40 EGGS(!!!!!!) ( 24 mature, 12 fertilized thus far), I am singing a different tune. Firstly, I am so swollen I cannot see my own feet and can’t fit into my shirts. It takes me five minutes to walk to the bathroom which is one room away from mine and I have peed in my pants just about every time on the walk there. The pain last night was insanity. I was gripping my pillow and yelping! I realized though, after rounds of electric bolts of hot burning, stabbing pain radiating up my anus, that my internal hemmroids must be getting irritated by all of the swelling. Joy!! (I just found out about those last month). Today I feel like there is a balloon full of cement growing and growing by the hour inside my entire abdomen. My ribs even hurt. I’m only 35 and 115 lbs. I’m drinking salted Gatorade to prevent OHSS, and I am literally fantasizing about drinking a large cup of cool water again. 7 days to go. Ladies, this is no joke. Praying the little embies do what they’re supposed to do!! Sigh….

  47. Meredith #
    December 18, 2013

    Thank you so much for your post. I wish I had read this before my retrieval. I would have been better prepared for the after effects. My hubby has been awesome and I’ve needed his support because I’ve felt like a giant balloon floating away. He’s walked the dogs and done the errands. Lucky me!

    I called my doc and asked for more pain drugs but they told me to keep taking Tylenol. I also had no idea about the constipation. Ugh!

    On the positive side they were able to get 24 eggs and 17 fertilized! We’re doing additional genetic testing so they won’t go back in until next month. This is fine by me since I can’t image feeling this way and having the embryos put back in.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  48. Mabel #
    January 7, 2014

    I have done egg retrieval twice – just to bank them as I changed career and was feeling the biological clock tick. The first time was when it was summer time – I did it in Europe. Had an anaesthetic – felt fine immediately after, pain was practically non existent, in fact I went to the beach and read my book – told not to exercise for a week. Horrific constipation for about four days – had difficulty turning around if I was sitting down and felt a bit bloated – but not too bad. Second time round was 12 days ago and it is Wintertime. After four days of injections I started to bloat. Probably went up a dress size and face was bloated too. Last two days of injections was black and blue. Had pains in my ovaries for the last five days of the process. I had started to get mild OHSS for the last few days or so – had difficulty breathing if I slept on one particular side. After the extraction I felt pain and it continued until my period arrived. Pain killers just numbed the pain – Still felt it though. Was given some drugs that are banned in most countries apart from there – but didnt care. Was expecting constipation – never arrived this time. 12 days later: I have had a migraine for three days now. You really need to keep drinking the fluids until the drugs are out of your system. Hoping that I will be fine tomorrow – havent really exercised since starting the process – dedicated four months of clean living and telling awful lies to people as to why I couldnt have a drink at all Christmas events or other things over the last number of months. I have talked to a few of my IVF friends who say that each time you do stims and retrieval is different. Definitely was a bit brain dead when taking the stims and post the anaesthetic. Really think vitamin d from the sunshine makes it easier. Also fellow Europeans if you see the higher numbers of follicles on the site – in the US they take out all the follicles in Europe they only take out the really large ones. My advice to anyone doing vitrification just to store – do it in the spring/summer. So glad that I have done it. Truly feel empowered. Also very thankful that I was able to pull together the money to pay for it. We are a lucky bunch of people. Good luck with it. Mabel

  49. Mula #
    January 9, 2014

    Thanks for this. At least better prepared than not. I am doing my retrieval in the morning so will come back and share here for others later

  50. Emily #
    January 12, 2014

    I thought I was CRAZY for feeling like all of you! I was an egg donor, still in college, and was told that I would be in ‘mild discomfort’ for a couple of days, no problem, have some Tylenol. Well, I’m fairly certain they over-stimulated me because they collected 53 (!!!!) which I now think was an abnormally large number, and the moment I woke up told me that I would be fine, here is a heating pad.

    It’s unfortunate that if you are a donor only, rather than doing egg-retrieval for yourself, you really kinda get treated as this disposable egg-maker. I was shunted off 30-40 minutes after I woke up. I’ve had two broken ribs, and many various injuries… so luckily for me, I had some Norco laying around to take. No way would OTC have covered this pain. And the serious bloating, the inability to poo… none of this was discussed with me beforehand.

    Never doing donation again. I thought I was doing an awesome thing, but the disregard for how I would feel afterwards makes it entirely not worthwhile.

  51. Tiffany #
    January 13, 2014

    It’s 2014 and nothing is new under the sun! The sun is still scorching and so is my poor tummy! So I am a 29 year old ball of energy. I have my first egg donation last Friday…I must say the day of the retrieval was the best day and last good day I have this far! Is this bloating or swelling because I can’t tell the difference. Whatever it is it’s painful. It hurts when I breathe deep and so I keep my breaths short and sweet. No matter how I lay, it’s uncomfortable and I’m going on day 5. I have to use the restroom at least 30 times in a day. I don’t have burning but I have a lot of pain in my lower abdomen when I use the rest room. My entire chest cavity hurts…I’m like what does that have to do with the retrieval? I’m not happy, I tolerate pain very well…I never take pain meds, when my doctors pulled my teeth out, no meds, I generally don’t need any…but it is taking everything in me to not grab something. I’m so fat! I am 5’2 and I dance everyday so I normally have a flat stomach…now I look 4 to 5 months pregnant and I can’t suck it in. I am blessed to have been able to donate for the family I donated for…but a little warning of these after affects would have been nice…as I would have requested the heaviest of pain meds after. Ugh when does the bloating go down? When does the pain subside? I’m taking 2 shots of heparin 50mls each twice a day. My blood work came back today and they increased my dosage. I feel bamboozled by the doctors. The words “light cramping” is a “white lie” but I’m praying to get healthy quickly!

  52. Eileen #
    January 15, 2014

    big time bloating. just had egg retrieval yesterday. 12 eggs. 9 good ones. 7 fertilized. now waiting for the PGD – we opted to do the testing. fingers crossed i have enough good embryos to implant at least 2 and freeze the rest for future pregnancies…

  53. Sam #
    February 17, 2014

    As I sit here & read these blogs the night before my first ever egg retrieval, I think: What in the Hell am I doing? I guess it’s too late to change my mind. Tomorrow is Tuesday & I have to be back to work on Saturday. Hope I’m ready! Thank you all for your honest experiences. I hope to update on here after my retrieval.

  54. 1suburbanchic #
    February 28, 2014

    This is SO helpful as I’m walking around here bloated and constipated! I was trying to figure out if it was related to my retrieval 2 days ago! Also I feel like I have to sneeze all the time, which I’ve heard happens after anesthesia. Thanks for the info!

  55. Apollosbeloved #
    March 26, 2014

    IVF is not for the faint hearted, thank you, thank you for this blog ladies. It has helped me to understand a little better about what is going on. I agree that the Dr and nurses really don’t explain the bloating thing to the degree we all seem to have experienced. And yes, who are these women who are up and about 24-48 hours later? I too feel unbelievably bloated, like I could take a pin and my stomach would pop like a hot air balloon. I had 14 eggs retrieved on Monday and now two days later look like I’m six months pregnant. I can hardly walk and I have such incredible discomfort but strangely had only a little cramping pain for the first hour after surgery. I thought the cramps would be bad and the bloating manageable. I’m drinking lots of water, and pear juice for the constipation. I was told to have four small protein rich meals each day as the follicles suck the protein out of your body so you need to replace it. I’m a little worried about being overstimulated but I’m keeping a close check on symptoms, no nausea, bleeding or fever thankfully, just the extreme bloating is all. I didn’t know that you feel worse at 48-72 hours due to the fluid refilling, I went to work today, no wonder I felt like I was going to die. I work in an office of men so was hoping all day that I wouldn’t burst into spontaneous tears!

  56. Apollosbeloved #
    March 26, 2014

    Belle, isn’t it great that your post is helping us gals up to two years later! I look forward to exploring your blog site while I’m stuck at home resting this week.

  57. Ashley #
    April 2, 2014

    So glad to hear this. I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance also, but am soooo sore. I had laprascopy done in Decemeber and didn’t feel as bad after that as I do 1 day after retrieval. My insides feel like they might just fall out. I did go to work and am wondering if I am absolutely crazy!!!! Next time I will plan a little more time off!

  58. Anniegrl711 #
    April 2, 2014

    This post is really helpful – and I agree with most of it. I had my egg retrieval yesterday and feel like my insides got run over by a truck. Every time I move, it hurts. They retrieved 24 eggs and 18 fertilized – so that’s what I keep reminding myself every time I have to get up and walk around. Hoping tomorrow is better. I have a heating pad but I can’t believe my RE only suggests I take Extra Strength Tylenol to cope with this.

    • Betty #
      April 3, 2014

      Anniegrl711 I hope your doing better today! If you can, take a short hour walk. My doctors recommended it to me and it helped a lot. Also the second day after retrieval should be better although you will be swolled in your tummy for about a week. The swelling will feel like it is never going away but it will so don’t worry! I was given the extra strength tylonal and a stronger pain med. I only used one Oxycodon pill to fall asleep the first night because my swollen ovaries were pressing against a nerve causing a constant kind pain from my hip to my shoulder. The pain will go away and you’ll feel better soon! 24 is a lot of eggs so that is why you feel the way you do.

  59. Karan #
    April 3, 2014

    Hi all, I am having my ER on Mon (7/4/14)or Tue (8/4/14) next week will find out for definite tomorrow, but all these posts are so very helpful! and although a bit scary it’s good to know what to expect I was planning on coming to work the following day, but think I will book a days leave just to be on the safe side. Wishing you all mountains of luck and a happy ending.

  60. Juliaandkurt #
    April 18, 2014

    Hi all, I only have one ovary and they retrieved 25 eggs from it, two days ago and 16 fertilized, very constipated, bloated, a lot of urination for two days. Been drinking a lot of water 36 oz a day and I don’t know if that’s enough? I really hope to feel better soon and to be ready for my transfer. My question is how many can I transfer? I’m 25 years old and my husband is 27, my husband and I are thinking about three or two to transfer? Any clues. Thanks guys, good luck to all of you.

    • Flaviana #
      November 15, 2014

      I am 29 years old. 6 days before the retrieval I was told I had 40 eggs.I had the retrieval yesterday. Was ok.Things changed later in the evening.Stronger pain than before the procedure was done.My stomach is so full and tight and have sharp pain on my upper stomach that comes and go.Can’t stand straight sometimes.So painful if I go for a pee and super painful when I try to have a poo.My jeans don’t fit me anymore(coz of my stomach)Hard to buy dresses this morning and I look like I am already pregnant. After the retrieval the doctor put me into injections for 5 days saying is for to stop the fluid from leaking and the ovaries to keep on expanding. I am worried that it might be a mild OHSS. If so,would it mean that we might have to cancel the embryo transfer? As its in 4 days to come

      • November 15, 2014

        If you have OHSS you might have to cancel but do not fear. Your embryos will be grown out and frozen. My daughter is the product of a frozen embryo transfer! Hang in there, lady. It’s hard but the pain and swelling will go down. xoxo

      • Betty #
        November 15, 2014

        I am confused about your last part with the 5 injections. What are you getting injections for if you already got the eggs removed??

        Don’t oush hard to per or poopfor about 2 weeks. Sometimes t only

        • Betty #
          November 15, 2014

          Sometimes it only feels like your full becasue of the bloating. Give it time, pleasantly of time to go away!

        • flaviana #
          November 16, 2014

          Just had a scan and it seems there was a very little fluid in me and was taken out. My biggest problem is my ovaries. They’re so big and swollen. The doctor said he was expecting it coz I had too many eggs (40).He said it might take up to 7 days for them to collapse which is fine.The best news if: I will still have my embryo transfer on Wednesday and he’s thinking of transfering only one embryo. We will do another scan on Tuesday to see how the ovaries are doing and if there will be any fluid. Im so excited and finger crossed.

        • flaviana #
          November 15, 2014

          Thanks Belle. The injections are to stop the ovaries from expanding or fluid from leaking out, thats what I was told and also gave me cyclogest to inserdeep into my vigina every morning and evening

  61. Tapnfeet99 #
    January 27, 2017

    Glad I read this bc I was worried something was wrong with me. I too had 27 eggs this cycle with 20 mature (last IVF cycle, 16 retrieved, 9 mature), and its POD 7 and I am still needing pain medication when I wake up in the morning and I have been peeing hourly, even throughout the night. Think I lost close to ten pounds in the first two days just from urination! I went from looking six months pregnant (even had a bloated face!) to now looking about two months pregnant. Hoping the excessive peeing and cramping pains will go away soon. Probably didn’t help that I went back to work as a nurse two days later…

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