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Getting Pregnant with Donor Eggs

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Written in partnership with Dr. John Frattarelli, Fertility Institute of Hawaii

For many women over the age of 40, IVF with egg donation offers the best chance of getting pregnant and having a baby. There are two options for donor egg patients: frozen donor eggs or fresh donor eggs.

Fresh Donor Eggs

Until 2012, all donor egg cycles were “fresh” cycles. The donor’s cycle and the intended mother’s cycle are coordinated, and the eggs are retrieved and fertilized as in a standard IVF cycle. One or two embryos are transferred and any additional embryos are frozen for future use

Frozen Donor Eggs

In 2012, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the experimental label from egg freezing. With the onset of the fast freeze and thaw technology called vitrification, egg freezing has quickly becoming the preferred method for egg donation for three reasons:

  1. With vitrification, eggs are surviving the freezing and thaw process and have the same success rates as fresh donor eggs
  2. Frozen donor eggs provide greater convenience because you can cycle at any time without coordinating with an egg donor.
  3. The cost for a frozen donor egg cycles with vitrified eggs is approximately half the cost of a fresh egg donation cycle.

Many fertility clinics now work with an egg bank, such as Donor Egg Bank USA, which provides patients access to a large and diverse database of donors that undergo psychological, medical and genetic screening. The intended mother chooses a donor from the egg bank’s egg donor registry, and can select characteristics such as race, hair color, eye color and height, as well as whether the donor is a first time donor or repeat donor.

You can also see how many eggs are available from each donor. In general, one in five eggs will develop into an embryo for transfer. Once a donor is chosen, the eggs are shipped to the partner clinic, thawed, fertilized and one or two resulting embryos are transferred. Egg banks enable you to purchase additional lots of eggs if you are interested in having full biological siblings.


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