Are Frozen Donor Eggs Better Than Fresh ?
It is a life-changing process to go through IVF, but it can also be incredibly daunting. There is a whole rollercoaster of emotions you may feel while going through an IVF cycle, from hope and expectation to anxiety and grief. But it helps to know ahead of time the benefits and risks of your selected fertility option, as well as what you can expect during the process. Here’s a practical guide to help you choose between frozen and fresh eggs, as well as factors to consider that can impact your costs and convenience.
Fresh vs. Frozen Donor Egg Process
The fresh donor egg process selecting a donor (either anonymous or known), then coordinating with your fertility practice so your uterus will be ready for transfer at the same time the eggs are retrieved. You will receive the entire yield of your donor’s cycle, whether it’s 8 or 26, mature or less developed eggs. With a frozen egg cycle, the donor’s eggs have already been retrieved and stored through an egg bank. You will get a set number of mature eggs (generally between 5 – 8) which you can fertilize.
In a fresh cycle since you are receiving an entire lot, you are more likely to end up with several embryos. However, egg retrieval from donors can be an unpredictable process and usually involves a long waiting time. Frozen eggs are more consistent but come in smaller batches of eggs, meaning fewer potential embryos (something to consider if you want to grow your family in the future). However, success rates are just as high as with fresh eggs.
Compared with fresh eggs, it is the more affordable option – the costs per treatment cycle are lower. The entire process also takes less time, from choosing a donor to having the embryo transfer take place. There is no need to synchronize the menstrual cycles between the donor and the recipient, and frozen egg donors have already been prescreened, so there will be no medical surprises. Any complexities in the process of ovarian stimulation for the donor have already been handled. If time is of concern to you, frozen eggs may be a better option.
Frozen egg cycles are not covered by insurance, so you will have to pay out of pocket. Egg banks tend to have a larger, nationwide pool of donors, but they also have a larger, nationwide contingent of potential recipients, so donors are matched very quickly. If you have your eye on a particular donor, you will need to act quickly or they could be snatched up by someone else.
You will also not have the option of meeting the frozen egg donor, and you won’t have the option of asking more questions or getting more photos. There’s also no way of finding out the number of other couples who were or will be successful with your chosen donor, meaning your child may have genetic half-siblings. This may be a concern for some.
Generally speaking, with a fresh cycle a donor and recipient will be matched one-to-one (although shared cycles do exist). All the eggs retrieved will be going to you, so any excess eggs you do not use in one treatment cycle can be frozen and thawed for use at any point in the future you if desire to have a biological sibling for your first baby. Fresh egg cycles can also be covered by insurance, so if cost is a factor, your insurance may be able to offset it.
There is a lengthier wait time when it comes to fresh eggs. The process of syncing the donor’s menstrual cycle with the recipient’s can be a long process. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the donor will be able to produce enough eggs for a successful outcome. The amount of risk involved is high.
There are many resources out there weighing out the pros and cons, but the best choice for you really depends on your specific needs. We wish you all the best on this journey!