When I was approached by Heidi, the CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA, to write an informational piece about donor eggs I was pretty excited! I never used donor eggs in my journey but we were looking at it as our next step.
I know that it can be confusing and hard to find information on the process and so I jumped at the chance to add her insight to the blog! Here is her break down of fresh VS frozen eggs and how to decide what works best for you.
*A reminder that Donor Egg Bank USA uses frozen eggs, though I still found her understanding to be well rounded!
Fresh vs Frozen: Is There a Difference When It Comes to Donor Eggs?
Written by: Heidi Hayes
Aside from the cost of a donor egg, the top question on the minds of those considering their donor egg options is whether fresh or frozen egg donation is a better method. While some have weighed the options and come to a clear conclusion, it really depends on your individual situation, including budgetary and time concerns. Here’s a comparison between the two options and some considerations to look at when making your final decision.
How Fresh Egg Donations Work
Fresh egg donations involve a live donor that you’ve selected from an Egg Donor Agency. Generally you are entitled to the whole yield of her cycle, regardless of the quality, and pay for the entire IVF procedure. If 28 eggs are retrieved from the donor, then all 28 eggs are available for your use at any point – but if her cycle only yields 10 eggs, then only those 10 are available to you.
Pros of Fresh Eggs
- The donor’s eggs are going exclusively to you
- Higher success rate
- You can also choose to save unused eggs for a future cycle or for a biological sibling, which will come at no additional cost to you
There are some programs that also offer “split” lots between multiple recipients, where two or three families will share the donor’s eggs and therefore, the cost. However, the same rule applies – if there are only 10 eggs retrieved, you may not have the best shot at a pregnancy.
Cons of Fresh Eggs
- Your cycle must be synced with the egg donor, causing a longer wait
- Higher cancellation rate due to human involvement factor
- Fresh eggs are more expensive than frozen eggs
- You may have a smaller donor pool and a harder time finding the donor you want
- You do not know how many eggs you will receive
What Are Frozen Eggs?
Frozen eggs are unfertilized eggs from an egg bank, which are retrieved from donors through the same process as a fresh donation cycle, and then put into deep freeze. The egg is dehydrated, submerged in medical grade cryoprotectant, and placed into liquid nitrogen. This hardens the cryoprotectant around the egg. The eggs will are then stored and are ready for use immediately. Once you have selected a suitable donor online, you will receive the lot of 6-8 eggs at your fertility center, and the eggs will be defrosted for fertilization and insertion.
Pros of Frozen Eggs:
- There’s no need for donor and recipient cycle synchronization, so the process is faster
- Lower risk of cycle cancellation, since eggs have already been retrieved and stored
- A lower cost per treatment cycle as compared to fresh eggs
- A larger pool of potential donors
Cons of Frozen Eggs:
- The success rate for live births using frozen donor eggs is slightly lower than with fresh eggs
- You will receive only 6-8 eggs, and may have to pay an additional amount if you want to obtain more
- There is no guarantee that your donor will have additional eggs if you would like to have a genetic sibling
Overall, when deciding between fresh or frozen donor eggs, it comes down to personal preference, but it is important to look at the pros and cons of each method. The fresh egg option is the more traditional method of egg donation, but choosing this route requires a longer, slower process. Choosing a donor is typically restricted by availability and your location. You will also need to synchronize your menstrual cycle with the donor’s in a process that can take several weeks. This procedure also costs more, normally doesn’t offer any guarantee, and is unpredictable because of both parties involved. The results have shown higher success rates than frozen eggs so far, but frozen technology is continuing to improve.
The newer method of using frozen donor eggs makes the process faster, cheaper, and more convenient. Since location is not an issue, instead of searching through a limited local pool of donors, you can search a national database. Donors do not need further medical testing, as all are already verified and their eggs are proven viable. There is also the convenience of not needing to synchronize your cycle with someone else. The process is private and based on your own schedule. In this process, you know you are getting a set amount of eggs, and have a set cost – which is usually about half the price of fresh eggs. There may also be a guarantee on the eggs you receive. The rate of success is slightly lower than fresh eggs, but may be improved by choosing your frozen egg bank carefully.
So, will it be fresh or frozen? If you are looking for a quicker solution, and don’t want the additional worry and stress that comes with syncing your cycle with your donor, then it is clear that frozen eggs are your top choice.