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Egg donation using frozen eggs - pros and cons

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For the last 30 years egg donation has been performed almost exclusively using fresh eggs from young egg donors.

  • The donors were chosen by a recipient couple and stimulated to produce multiple eggs.
  • The eggs were retrieved and fertilized with the male partners sperm with the resulting fresh embryos transferred to the recipient female.
  • Remaining embryos would be frozen for future frozen embryo transfer procedures (if needed).

This is still the way most egg donation is done in the United States and around the world. However, recent advances in egg freezing technology have led to the option of using frozen eggs.

We now offer egg donation using frozen (vitrified) donor eggs. We have been providing fresh donor egg treatments since 1997. Now we do egg donation using either fresh or frozen eggs.

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Chicago egg donation success rates

Egg freezing has improved significantly over the past several years due to fine-tuning of freezing and thawing protocols. Thawed egg survival and viability is much better than it was in the past. These improvements now can allow for good pregnancy and live birth success rates using frozen donor eggs.

Recently there has been a proliferation of "egg banks" that recruit egg donors, have their eggs frozen and then sell them to recipient couples for their egg donation cycles. Some of these businesses are claiming to have high success rates from the thawed donor egg cycles.

However, buyer beware - egg banks are not yet required by law to report success rate data to the government like fertility clinics are. Their claims are not currently subject to on site inspection and validation. Some of the success rate claims made by donor egg banks on their websites are unlikely to be accurate (they are over the top).

Egg freezing is far from perfect but using frozen donor eggs instead of fresh donor eggs can have some potential advantages for the recipient couples.

  • Synchronization of the cycle between the donor and recipient becomes a non issue
  • The complexities of ovarian stimulation for the donor and any problems that may result during the stimulation were already dealt with and a now done deal
  • There can be a shorter time frame from choosing a donor until having embryo transfer when eggs are already frozen
  • Costs per treatment cycle are reduced using frozen donor eggs compared to fresh
  • However, the cost per baby born could be lower, the same, or higher - depending on the live birth rate per embryo transfer procedure at the clinic doing the procedure.

The national average for live birth success rates using frozen frozen donor eggs at this time are still somewhat lower than success rates with fresh donor eggs. However, egg freezing and thawing has come a long way in the last several years and success rates with frozen donor eggs are very close to those seen with fresh eggs in some clinics (including ours).

Success rates using frozen donor eggs are dependent on several factors:

  • The quality of the donor eggs
  • The ability of the clinic to perform effective freezing and thawing of the eggs
  • The number of eggs thawed
  • The number of embryos transferred to the uterus
  • The expertise and quality of the IVF program

At our fertility center, we are currently seeing pregnancy rates with our banked frozen and thawed donor eggs that are somewhat lower as compared to what we have with fresh donor eggs. However, the average batch size for a cycle using frozen donor eggs is 7 eggs, vs. about 16 using fresh eggs. There,fore, we should expect a slightly lower success rate due to the lower number of eggs to start with.

We believe that our ability to control all aspects of the egg freezing process gives us an advantage over other programs using frozen eggs from an outside egg bank. We choose which donors to freeze and we maintain excellent quality control by freezing and thawing all eggs in the same laboratory. Thus far we have not been using frozen eggs from outside egg donor banks.

Email us with questions about our donor program