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Donor Eggs Decoded: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Fresh and Frozen Options

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When couples start thinking about having a baby, egg donors aren’t always part of that plan. Yet, after a fertility diagnosis, an egg donor may be the best route toward their dream of starting a family. 

Using an egg donor comes with a number of considerations and choosing whether to opt for fresh or frozen donor eggs is one of those. 

Below, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of using frozen eggs from a donor versus fresh donor eggs and what to consider when opting for either of these options. 

What’s Involved with Using Donor Eggs?

Egg donation is often presented as an option for women who haven’t had any success with traditional IVF treatments. This may be due to poor egg quality or a low egg count. It may also be recommended for women who are struggling with secondary infertility, who are going through menopause early in life (before the age of 40), or who may be trying to reduce the risk of a genetic disorder. It’s also an option for male same-sex couples. 

Donor eggs are available in fresh or frozen form. Fresh donor eggs are retrieved from the donor and are fertilized by the sperm source to create embryos. Then, one of the embryos is transferred to the recipient around five days later or biopsied, frozen, and then transferred later during a frozen embryo transfer (FET). Other embryos are frozen for future transfers if needed. 

In contrast, frozen eggs aren’t fertilized within hours of being retrieved from the donor but are frozen until such a time as the recipient is ready for the transfer. When the parent-to-be is ready, a group of eggs is thawed, fertilized, and prepared for embryo transfer. These embryos may also be frozen for future embryo transfers (transfering a fertilized egg to a woman’s uterus. 

The advantages and disadvantages of using fresh donor eggs

Previously, fresh donor eggs were the only option available. Due to this, there is more research and there are more statistics available surrounding the use and/or success of using fresh egg donation. For example, some research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that a live birth occurs in 47.4 percent of frozen egg donor cases, while a live birth occurs in 54.7 percent of fresh egg donor cases. 

Opting for fresh donor eggs may also result in a higher number of eggs available for fertilization, which can be beneficial if you’re wanting to have more than one child. 

However, if you are using fresh eggs, this can increase the costs associated with this type of egg donation. This may stem from the coordination of yours and the donor’s cycles and having to be in the same place as the donor for some of the process. You may also face a higher risk of cancellation and the availability of donors within a specific geographical location can be limited. 

The advantages and disadvantages of using frozen donor eggs

As we have seen above, the disadvantages of using frozen donor eggs are potentially lower success rates (although this is always improving), more steps in the process that can have an impact on egg survival, and a smaller number of eggs available in an egg lot for frozen donor recipients. 

Nevertheless, frozen egg donation is a far more cost-effective solution thanks to the fact it is carried out at your convenience and without having to coordinate with the donor. There’s no need to schedule your plans around the donor’s and vice versa. This also reduces the risk of cancellation. 

When using a frozen egg donor bank you’ll likely have access to more potential donors, too. And finding the right donor for you and your family is imperative in this process. 

Choosing the Right Option for You and Your Family 

Ultimately, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing between fresh and frozen donor eggs. That’s why it’s important to take your time when making this decision. Speak to a specialist, consult egg banks, have a look at potential egg donors, and make sure all of the questions you do have are answered before you make your final choice.