Discussing fresh or frozen eggs sounds like something you’d do at the grocery store, not when you want to start a family! But this is actually a very important discussion that every Intended Parent should have.
First of all, let’s explain why anyone would discuss using donor eggs at all. There can be many reasons, starting with fertility. Diminished fertility can occur due to age, medical conditions, cancer treatment, or premature menopause. And sometimes, there’s just no explanation for why a couple or an individual can’t get pregnant.
In some cases, couples who risk passing on genetic diseases may prefer to use donor eggs. Single gay men or same-sex male couples will also require an egg donor if they wish to start a family.
Success rates of fresh vs. frozen eggs
Freezing methods have improved significantly in the past decade, and the difference in success rates between fresh and frozen eggs is actually quite small. In 2017 data from the Society for Assisted Reproduction Technology showed that the live birth rate from fresh eggs was 49.2%, while the rate from frozen eggs was 43.1%.
Fresh eggs are retrieved from the donor and immediately fertilized with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor. The embryos are then transferred to the Intended Mother or a surrogate.
Frozen eggs are not fertilized after retrieval but cryopreserved for future use by a frozen egg bank. This means they can be thawed and fertilized when the time is right. The Intended Parents can use the Intended Father’s sperm or the sperm of a donor to create the embryos for transfer.
In general, fresh eggs are more efficient at generating viable embryos. While the wait might be longer, more eggs will likely be retrieved per cycle, which may mean more embryos.
Having said that, it’s important to remember that success rates vary from clinic to clinic, depending on the clinic’s experience, technology, and expertise.
Cost of fresh vs. frozen eggs
Generally speaking, it costs more to use fresh donor eggs with IVF cycles than frozen. Depending on the clinic, the cost of the entire process when using frozen eggs may be around half the cost of using fresh eggs.
The reasons for this discrepancy are that the fresh egg process involves working with the donor within a set timeframe and the technology involved to keep the eggs fresh.
Another reason frozen eggs are more affordable is that Intended Parents don’t have to pay for the egg donor’s travel expenses. A fresh egg donor cycle also comes with many unforeseen circumstances – you never know what might pop up in the donor’s life.
In many ways, frozen eggs come with less risk for cost because you are guaranteed a certain number of eggs.
Diversity of donors
If you’ve decided to go with using donor eggs, it’s natural that you’ll want to have the option of choosing from a wide range of donors. That’s where frozen eggs win out. Because frozen eggs can be stored for longer periods of time, many clinics will be able to provide access to a diverse database of donors.
At Family Source Consultants, we know that Intended Parents choose their donor based on many unique factors, which is why our egg donor database provides a diverse selection of egg donors.
Another great advantage of using frozen eggs is that you can start when you’re ready, not just when the donor is available. There’s no rush to use your frozen embryos as they will be as viable as they were the day they were frozen.
On the other hand, using fresh donor eggs usually takes around three months. This is because you have to factor in the donor’s screening, as well as their natural cycle and schedule. The donor’s menstrual cycle will have to be in sync with the Intended Mother, which can take time. Then, once the process is underway, you’ll be waiting again to find out if the donor has produced the number of eggs needed for success.
However, frozen eggs are ready when you are, so you can create your embryos and transfer them as soon as you wish without waiting around for your donor’s cycle.
So, which should I choose?
Well – there’s no easy answer! You’ll have to weigh up your options carefully. Many Intended Parents will decide based on their available timeline and how much money they’re willing to spend. But you may be happy to wait until the perfect donor catches your eye – and that could mean fresh OR frozen.
If you’re having trouble deciding, get in touch with the friendly team at Family Source Consultants. Many of us have been in the same position, so we know exactly how delicate the process of selecting your egg donor can be.