Vaginal ultrasound guided aspiration is used to harvest the egg(s). Intravenous pain medication is often used to make the woman comfortable. Timing is crucial. If the egg harvest is done too early, the eggs won’t fertilize; if it is done too late the eggs may have been released spontaneously or may be too mature.
Sperm are obtained from the male partner on the day of retrieval and occasionally the morning after egg retrieval if fertilization was suboptimal.
In order to optimize sperm quality, it is recommended that the male partner abstain from ejaculation for two to seven days prior to the first sperm specimen. Typically, this will mean abstinence after the seventh day that the woman takes fertility medication.
Sperm are placed in a dish with the egg or, if necessary, injected directly into the egg (ICSI) to achieve fertilization. The eggs are checked the next day to determine which ones are fertilized. Excess fertilized eggs, now called embryos, can be frozen at this time.