Egg Donation Using Frozen Eggs
Using cryopreservation technology, patients now have the option of undergoing an egg donor cycle using frozen donor eggs. With frozen donor eggs, the eggs are retrieved from the donor as standard and then frozen through a method known as vitrification, allowing them to be stored for future use. This is the same technology that is used in fertility preservation and elective egg freezing.
Vitrification is a technique that involves adding cryoprotectants to the eggs and then cooling them at an ultra-rapid rate. The cryoprotectants help to prevent the formation of crystals and preserve the egg’s structural integrity. Once frozen, the eggs are stored in our egg bank. When ready, the donor eggs are removed from storage, thawed, fertilized with sperm, and prepared for uterine transfer.
Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago offers both fresh and frozen egg donation cycles. We have been providing fresh donor egg treatments since 1997 and frozen donor egg cycles since 2014.
Advantages of Using Frozen Donor Eggs
Egg donation was originally developed using “fresh” eggs. The process involved stimulating the egg donor’s ovaries into producing multiple eggs. The eggs were then retrieved and fertilized using sperm from the male intended parent or a sperm donor. The resulting fresh embryos would then be quickly transferred to the recipient female. Any remaining embryos would be frozen for future use.
Although fresh egg donation cycles are still a popular option for many recipients, more and more patients are turning to frozen donor eggs as an alternative option. In fact, in 2017, there were 3,324 Fresh Donor Egg Cycles and 3,452 Frozen Donor Egg Cycles reported in the USA.
As egg freezing and thawing technologies continue to improve over time, there are some notable advantages when considering frozen donor eggs for embryo creation:
- There is no need to have synchronization of the cycle between the donor and recipient
- Because ovarian stimulation and retrieval have already been done, you know how many eggs are available before beginning a cycle.
- 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 donor eggs at this time are still somewhat lower than success rates with fresh donor eggs. However, egg freezing and thawing have come a long way in the last several years and success rates with frozen donor eggs are not very different from those seen with fresh eggs in some clinics (including ours).
Frozen Donor Egg Success Rates at AFCC
Egg freezing has improved over the past several years through fine-tuning of freezing and thawing protocols. Thawed egg survival and viability are much better than in the past. When these eggs are frozen and thawed at high-quality IVF clinics, we see high pregnancy success rates using frozen donor eggs.
How much do frozen donor egg IVF success rates vary? Quite a bit – as shown below
Our 2017 live birth success rate per transfer was 71.7% for 2017 for frozen donor eggs
USA national average for 2017 was 39.3%
Understanding Frozen Donor Egg Success Rates
The success of a frozen egg donor cycle depends on several factors, including:
- 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, it’s important to note that the average batch size for a cycle using frozen donor eggs is about 6 eggs, while fresh donor cycles use an average of about 17 eggs. Therefore, we would expect a slightly lower success rate due to the lower number of eggs to start a cycle with.
By maintaining our own inventory of frozen donor eggs and controlling all aspects of the egg freezing process, Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago offers a distinct advantage over fertility programs that only work with third-party egg donor banks. We are also able to maintain excellent quality control by freezing and thawing all eggs in the same laboratory. We also offer partnerships with MyEggBank for embryo creation with frozen donor eggs.
Frozen Donor Egg Guarantees at AFCC
For the convenience and peace of mind for any patient who is using frozen donor eggs to become a parent, Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago offers an embryo development guarantee. If all frozen donor eggs in your lot are thawed and fertilized, we guarantee you will have an embryo available for transfer on either day 3 or day 5.
If there is not at least one embryo available for fresh transfer on day 3 or day 5 (which is a rare occurrence in our program), then a free lot of eggs will be provided to the patient for another attempt if they are in a single cycle financial plan. The cycle will not count as one of the 6 attempts for patients in our shared risk or 100% refund plans. This guarantee does not apply in severe male factor cases because severe impairment of fertilization and/or embryo development could result.