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Shared Egg Donation Cycles
Shared egg donation is exactly what it sounds like: a donor’s eggs are shared between two, or possibly three, recipients. Fertility clinics and donor egg agencies that offer this option advertise it as a cost-effective way to afford egg donation—recipients share the cost of treatment.
Donors who participate in shared cycles may be chosen because they have had a previous successful donor egg cycle. Some clinics designate donors specifically as shared donors.
The recipients of a shared donor cycle are often designated as “primary recipients” and “secondary recipients.” This designation may be a result of who chose the donor first or how long the recipients have been on the waiting list for an egg donor.
The cycle works like a standard egg donation cycle, and the resulting eggs are divided amongst the recipients. If there are an odd number of eggs, most likely the “primary” recipient will receive the extra egg.
Some clinics require that the donor produce a minimum number of eggs (eight is common) in order for the shared cycle to move forward. If fewer eggs are produced, they may all be provided to the primary recipient. In this case, the primary recipient may incur the full cost of the cycle.
Because the recipient has fewer eggs to fertilize in a shared cycle, there is a chance that they won’t have excess embryos to cryopreserve. If they want to do another cycle, due to a failed cycle or in order to have more children, they will need to do another donor egg cycle, as opposed to a frozen embryo transfer. Some, however, look at this as an advantage—potentially fewer cryopreserved embryos to store and determine how to use in the future.
The success rates for shared cycles are similar to standard donor egg cycles. Success depends on many factors including the age of the egg donor, retrieval process, quality of semen, and the recipient’s overall health.