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Dear Patient Care Advocates: How Does Egg Donation Compare to Embryo Donation and How Much Do They Cost?

Dear Patient Care Advocates:

I just got the results of my AMH blood test and it was bad news! My fertility doctor recommends using donor egg for an IVF cycle, but I’ve also heard of couples using donor embryos. Can you explain the difference between egg donation and embryo donation? How much does embryo donation cost compared to the cost of egg donation? I think using a donor embryo would help me feel more at ease about not being biologically related to the baby (since my husband would not be biologically related to the baby either), but I need more information to make an educated decision.

Wanna-be Mama

Dear Wanna-be,

First, I am so sorry to hear about your low AMH level. It can be very discouraging, but rest assured there are reproductive options available for you and you WILL become a mom one day!

The easiest way to differentiate between donor egg and donor embryo is this:

  • Donor eggs are simply one half of the baby-making equation. Using an egg donor would mean you plan to receive eggs from another woman in her twenties or early thirties, fertilize them with your partner’s sperm, and transfer them back into your uterus. A fresh donor egg cycle ranges from $30,000-$40,000. A frozen donor egg cycle (eggs come from an egg bank) averages $16,000.

  • Donor embryos are the eggs and sperm created from another couple’s IVF cycle, then donated because the couple has decided their family is complete. The embryo donation process requires you to pay for screening and blood tests to verify the health of the donor couple. You may also have to pay for the embryos to be transferred to your clinic (if you are not using the same clinic as the donor couple), and any associated lab fees. Embryo donation ranges from $2,500-$4,000.

  • Another option would be to use an egg donor AND a sperm donor that you have selected separately. With donor embryos, you are limited to the “inventory” that has already been created. If you use an egg donor and a sperm donor, you will be able to select each donor based on the criteria most important to you. In that case, you could pick an egg donor that looks like you and a sperm donor that looks like your partner. You might have an easier time, emotionally, since neither of you would be biologically linked to the baby, but you have the most control in this scenario over which donors you are using. Donor sperm adds a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the cost depending on how many vials of sperm you would need.

Baby Dust

Watch as Dr. John Payne of PREG explains: "What is Embryo Donation?"

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