Each year in the U.S., more than 55,000 women give birth to one or more children with the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Many of these births are a result of ARTs performed with donor eggs. Donor eggs are an option for women who aren’t able to develop high-quality eggs. The intended parents usually have two options to use donor eggs – fresh or frozen. So, which of them is better? Let’s find out.
When Does a Woman Decide to Use Donor Eggs?
Every year, 1% to 2% of all newborns (out of the 40 million births) in the U.S. are the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF). There were 330,773 ART cycles completed at 448 reporting clinics in the U.S. in 2019, resulting in 77,998 live births. The percentage of successful live births utilizing the patient’s eggs is 51% for women under 35 years of age, according to data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.
However, when ovarian reserves are depleted due to advanced age or other medical conditions, the likelihood of IVF failure is significantly increased. You could have a sufficient number of eggs but poor egg quality at the same time. The viability of an embryo can be determined by the quality of the eggs. In such cases, donor eggs can be a great option.
Donor eggs may be recommended to individuals for the following reasons –
- An early menopause
- Premature ovarian failure
- Poor quality of maturing eggs
- Infertility due to advanced age
- Infertility brought on by medical procedures like chemotherapy
- A high likelihood of passing down an inherited or genetic problem
- Same-sex couples and gay men who wish to become fathers.
When choosing donor eggs, the recipient is at liberty to select from a large number of donors, besides the choice of picking between fresh and frozen donor eggs. The egg donor must be a young, healthy woman under 35 years of age and has had her ovarian reserves checked. Using a younger women’s donated eggs increases the likelihood of creating high-quality embryos with the potential to implant successfully and progress to a successful pregnancy.
Choosing between a Fresh vs Frozen Egg Donor – What does it Mean for You?
The choice between using a fresh vs frozen egg donor is highly personal as well as driven by many aspects. For instance, the possibility to use fresh eggs if the donor is known to the intended parents – a friend or close relative. If such a person is ready to donate her eggs, the process is different than when using banked eggs belonging to different women who chose to donate their extra eggs that were removed during their IVF procedures.
When choosing fresh eggs, to ensure that the menstrual cycles of both the donor and recipient are in sync, both women are put on hormone therapy. The recipient needs to have her body ready to receive the embryo formed after the eggs are removed from the donor’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in vitro, by mixing the sperm with the eggs or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
For a fresh egg donation cycle:
- There is no imminent danger that eggs won’t survive the freezing and thawing process.
- There could be a higher number of eggs to use for the transfer (typically, it takes about six eggs to determine the healthiest fertilized embryo.
- While the fresh donor egg cycles for treatment and donation are synchronized, there might be a delay in starting your cycle due to the donor’s lack of availability.
- There is a slightly higher percentage of success for IVF done with fresh eggs from donors than with frozen eggs.
If one chooses to use frozen donor eggs from a donor egg bank, there is no need to synchronize the donor and recipient cycles because the eggs are already in the donor bank and ready to be used so that treatment can begin right away. The only goal of the therapy is to get the recipient’s body ready for pregnancy so that the embryo can be transferred at the ideal time.
When using frozen eggs:
- Treatment can begin right away without synchronization. Hence, it is a much quicker course of treatment than using fresh donor eggs.
- No problems with the donor’s ovarian stimulation failing, because the eggs have already been collected before.
- Using frozen donor eggs also results in lower treatment costs.
Even though fresh eggs result in a marginally higher success rate – higher rates of embryo implantation, pregnancy, and live birth rate – clinicians usually consider the other advantages of using frozen eggs when advising patients on their best course of action. The choice of whether to use fresh or frozen donor eggs should be made on an individual basis after consulting with a doctor, given that frozen eggs offer several advantages such as ease, cost, and speed. Also, every couple may not have access to a fresh egg donor, and using frozen eggs is the most streamlined way to go.
How Much Does the Frozen Egg vs Fresh Egg from a Donor Cost?
Depending on the type of donor you select and the number of eggs you need for your fertility treatment, the cost of your donor eggs will vary. Because an ID Release Donor (directed individual, or whose identity can be known) or “proven donor” (an egg donor whose eggs have been used in a successful pregnancy and live birth) can be more expensive than a Non-ID Release Donor or first-time donor, your choice of egg donor type has an impact on the overall cost.
- The overall cost rises with the number of donor eggs. Typically batches of 6 eggs is offered for around $12,000 – $15,000.
- A batch purchase of 6–8 frozen donor eggs is frequently advised by medical professionals when recommending embryo transfer fertility treatment.
The initial cost of using a frozen donor egg is, without a doubt, lower. There are no IVF-related costs included in this. Before transfer charges, the price of a fresh egg donor cycle normally starts at around $20,000 in addition to donor compensation, psychosocial testing, and legal expenditures.
During IVF, the first step is the stimulation of the ovaries of the woman so that they produce multiple eggs. These eggs are then used to create embryos after being fertilized by sperm (either from the partner or from a donor). The success of an IVF cycle is partly due to the higher number of eggs and embryos used. Fresh eggs, while having a slightly higher success rate, are not possible for all couples to consider. They can, however, avail of frozen donor eggs and get started with the procedure as soon as possible.
Dreams Fertility is a premier fertility center in Palm Springs, CA, that partners with many egg donor programs to help you find the right donor – whether fresh or frozen. When you decide that it is time to proceed with a fertility treatment cycle, we will assist in matching you with the ideal donor. We also have a network of egg banks and sperm banks that store high-quality eggs and sperm that you can choose from. We also offer the opportunity for young women to freeze their own eggs for future use if they intend to use them to achieve pregnancy at a later stage in life.
At Dreams Fertility, we offer a wide range of fertility services for family building by an expert team of experienced fertility specialists. To start your fertility journey with us, schedule a consult with a Dreams Fertility physician today.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.