Many people are affected by infertility, which can make trying to conceive a child a stressful time in your life. If you’re struggling with oocyte-related infertility, using donor eggs may be a great fertility treatment to consider, especially if you wish to experience pregnancy and giving birth.
While many assume fresh donor eggs generate better results, continued advances in frozen egg technologies have led to an increase in their use and popularity. In fact, many fertility clinics have a pregnancy and live birth rate success with frozen donor eggs that rival or exceed fresh.
If you’re considering fresh or frozen donor eggs as a possible avenue to parenthood, below are the answers to seven common questions that can help you decide what option is the right one for you.
What’s the difference between fresh and frozen donor eggs?
While one or two steps within fresh and frozen donor egg cycles are similar, there are key differences that can determine which one is the better choice for your situation.
In a fresh egg cycle, you and your donor’s menstrual cycles must be synced, which can be very time-consuming and may involve complications or delays. If all goes according to plan, your donor’s eggs are retrieved and fertilized with your partner’s or donor’s sperm. After 3-5 days of maturation, one or two of your resulting embryos are transferred into your uterus. Due to the required cycle synchronization, fresh egg donation costs significantly more than frozen and your donor choices are further limited to a small regional pool of candidates within your local area.
On the other hand, a frozen egg cycle is significantly simpler. Your donor’s frozen eggs are ready at any time and can be used as soon as you’re ready. Your donor’s eggs have already been retrieved and can be thawed and fertilized with sperm when you’re ready to start the process. In contrast to fresh, frozen donor eggs come from women across the country – or internationally – and are about half the cost of fresh thanks to not having to synchronize your cycle with your donor’s. Further, a frozen donor egg cycle can take as few as four weeks from start to finish in comparison to the many months required for a fresh egg donation.
Is freezing donor eggs safe?
You may worry your frozen donor eggs might become damaged during the freezing process.
While that may have once been the case years ago, vitrification has contributed significantly to better-preserved donor eggs and improved pregnancy rates compared to the slow-freeze methods used in decades past. Vitrification is a method of preserving eggs by cryogenically freezing them instantly. With this process, water within the eggs can’t form ice crystals, which were the primary culprit in egg damage previously. With vitrification, you can trust that your frozen donor eggs will be preserved in a way that can give you a high chance of becoming pregnant.
Isn’t using fresh donor eggs more successful?
Pregnancy and delivery rates for fresh and frozen donor egg cycles don’t vary drastically, and delivery rates for frozen donor eggs are continuously improving.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics focusing on the effect of vitrification on pregnancy rates found that “clinical pregnancy rates were similar between vitrified and fresh groups.” This means the study found no significant difference between fresh and frozen pregnancy rates.
Given these findings, you can rest assured using frozen donor eggs can provide an equal or better pregnancy outcome than fresh donor eggs.
Doesn’t a frozen donor cycle produce fewer eggs than a fresh donor cycle?
You may possibly receive more eggs from a fresh donor cycle, but there’s no guarantee. For instance, your donor might produce many eggs, but they may not all be viable. Additionally, possible complications may arise during your fresh donor’s cycle. She may be forgetful about taking her medication or experience personal issues that negatively impact her cycle and ability to produce viable eggs.
If you choose to use frozen donor eggs to conceive, your donor bank provides a set number of healthy eggs. You can expect to receive between 5-8 eggs from your donor. Your donor egg bank ensures you’ll receive the required number of eggs necessary for your treatment.
Will I be the biological mother of my baby?
In short, yes!
However, wondering if you’ll be your child’s “real” mother due to a lack of genetic connection is a very real concern many women struggle with when they first consider using donor eggs.
If genetics were the precondition for close human relationships, nobody would fall in love. Think of the people you have close bonds with: are they all related to you?
You’ll begin creating a special bond with your child from the first day you know you’re pregnant. That bond grows stronger as you experience your baby growing inside you. By the time your little one is born, you’ve already started the nurturing process that seals the mother-child bond between you.
Won’t it be cheaper to ask a family member or friend to donate eggs for me?
Many individuals and couples are under the impression fresh donor eggs from a family member or friend are more affordable, but the opposite is often true.
Many extra costs are involved when choosing fresh donor eggs. These can include but are not limited to the donor screening cost, legal fees, donor compensation, medical treatment fees, and medication costs. The overall cost of one fresh cycle can add up to $25,000 and can go as high as $45,000 with recipient treatment. In contrast, a frozen donor egg cycle comes to approximately $14,500 and including recipient treatment may reach $21,000.
Further, while many individuals and couples first consider using a family member or friend as a donor, most choose not to go this route. Though at first it might be reassuring to personally know your donor and their genetics, there are complications that can arise down the line as your baby grows older. What will the relationship between your donor and child be like? To what extent will your donor be in your life? How will you explain that relationship to your child? All of these are valid questions. By using a donor from a frozen donor egg who has already signed away her parental rights to her eggs, you are eliminating these potential dilemmas. You will also have more choice in your donor from a database where the donor has already undergone a series of prescreening examinations and where you can receive a comprehensive overview of their medical history and their family’s medical and genetic history.
Isn’t this just a wild goose chase with no guarantees?
The short answer is absolutely not!
Thousands of people conceive every year using assisted reproductive technology. If you’re concerned about your finances or the possibility of not coming home with a baby, you may be able to choose a bundled package with a donor egg bank like Donor Egg Bank USA that offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you don’t bring home a baby.
Deciding between a fresh or frozen donor egg cycle is a very personal choice. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and while there are very clear benefits to using frozen donor eggs, only you can decide what is best for you and your family.