Apr 30, 2021

Donor Egg IVF 101: An Introduction to Egg Donation

This blog post was written by our partner, Donor Egg Bank USA, a network of the most respected and premier fertility practices in the United States and Internationally.   In response to the growing need for a nationwide database of diverse egg donors, Donor Egg Bank USA was launched by Heidi Hayes, a donor egg mom herself to assist fertility patients in their dream of having a baby, with the added convenience of a quicker treatment process.


Infertility.

A feared diagnosis, one that seems final and absolute.

Fortunately, thanks to advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), infertility doesn’t need to be an insurmountable mountain. Rather, it could be a small stumbling block on your path to parenthood.

If common fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) haven’t been successful for you, it may still be possible to overcome your infertility and build the family of your dreams using donor eggs.

If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community, you may have known since childhood that one day this would be the path you take. For others, using donor eggs may represent earlier decisions in life that make typical fertility options more difficult to pursue.

What is Donor Egg Treatment?

Donor egg treatment is when the eggs of young women are used to pursue pregnancy. The donor eggs are obtained from young, healthy women between the ages of 21 -33 who are rigorously screened before their egg donation. The success rates using a young woman’s eggs are significantly better than with typical IVF cycles. [1],[2],[3]

As a woman ages, not only does her number of eggs decrease but so does the quality of those that remain. Some women’s eggs are no longer as viable as they once were. This can be due to age, premature menopause, decreased ovarian reserves, a history of medical treatments such as cancer, or other reasons. As egg quality decreases, there’s an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, and the chances of a successful pregnancy are slim, even with traditional IVF. [4]

Fresh vs Frozen Donor Eggs: What’s the Difference?

Donor eggs can be acquired in either a fresh or frozen state. While both boast similar success rates, there are distinct benefits to using frozen donor eggs over fresh ones. [5]

Cycle Synchronization

With fresh eggs, the menstrual cycles of both the donor and woman who will be receiving the embryos (recipient) must be synchronized. The donor’s eggs need to be retrieved at approximately the same time that the recipient’s body is ready to receive the embryo(s). This requires a significant amount of medication and time, and both participants must be within the same geographical area. Because it is difficult to share eggs with more than one woman, intended parents often pay more in additional costs when undergoing a fresh donor egg IVF cycle.

Cost

Comparatively, using frozen eggs is more cost-effective than fresh, as there’s no need for menstrual cycle synchronization or travel. Since the eggs have already been retrieved, they are ready when you are, and the procedures can easily fit into an already busy schedule. In fact, by choosing frozen donor eggs you can save over half of what you would have spent on a fresh cycle. The biggest reason for these savings is that one donor can share her eggs with multiple intended parents. This allows the intended parents to also share in the cost of the IVF cycle, donor screening, and donor compensation. Overall, you can expect to pay $14,500 for a frozen egg lot from Donor Egg Bank USA versus an average cost of $25,000 or higher for just one fresh donor egg cycle. [6],[7]

Donor Selection

Typically, fresh egg donation requires your egg donor to live within your local area or travel to your clinic for an extensive two-week period of time, which significantly limits your choice of donors and can increase your costs. In contrast, frozen egg donors don’t need to be confined to your geographical location, since their eggs can just be shipped to your fertility practice. Frozen donor egg banks have hundreds of egg donor candidates from across the United States and the world, providing you with more choices and the best possible opportunity to find your perfect donor match.

Number of Eggs Retrieved

With frozen donor eggs from Donor Egg Bank USA, you can rest assured that you’ll receive 5-8 mature eggs per cycle. If using fresh donor eggs, you may receive more or fewer eggs depending on how many eggs are retrieved from your donor.

Timeline

In a fresh donor egg IVF cycle, cycle synchronization between donor and recipient can last 6-8 weeks, with the entire treatment process taking 6 months or more. Conversely, a frozen egg donation cycle can take as little as 4 weeks from start to finish.

Why is there such a significant time difference? Since donors with frozen eggs have already undergone the egg retrieval process, their eggs are ready to be thawed and fertilized at any time.

Guarantees

While fresh egg donor programs rarely offer guarantees to donor egg recipients, frozen donor egg programs often do. Most egg banks provide a blastocyst guarantee, and some offer a full refund if a baby is not brought home from the hospital. For example, our partner, Donor Egg Bank USA, offers an Assured Refund Plan of up to six cycles of egg lots and treatments — and the promise that you will bring home a baby or receive a 100% refund.

Success Rates

Thankfully, IVF using donor eggs has success rates of up to three times higher than traditional IVF.[8],[9] Besides being an ideal option for women with low egg quality or quantity, using an egg donor can be a great alternative for those who have experienced:

●   Prior miscarriages

●   A genetic disease they don’t want to pass on to their children

●   Chemotherapy or similar medical treatment

●   Premature ovarian failure

●   Unexplained fertility or secondary infertility

●   Are part of the LGBTQ+ community

Beginning the Donor Egg IVF Process

Choose an Egg Bank

Both fresh and frozen donor egg banks can be found throughout the United States. Most egg banks offer several financial plans, and a few, like Donor Egg Bank USA, offer money-back guarantees, making donor eggs financially attainable for families from all walks of life.

Find Your Egg Donor

After registering with your fresh or frozen egg bank, you’ll be free to browse egg donor profiles and find your perfect match. Some intended parents look for characteristics they feel are valuable or advantageous, while others look for physical traits that match the intended mother, so the child may bear some physical resemblance to her.

Next Steps

The next steps in the process differ depending on whether your donor eggs are fresh or frozen.

If fresh, you’ll need to ensure your donor is fully screened. This can take a few months to complete. Once your donor has been screened, you will begin cycle synchronization before the fertilization and embryo transfer.

If you choose frozen donor eggs, you can simply select your donor’s egg lot, because the screening will already be complete. The egg lot will be shipped to your fertility clinic for thawing, fertilization, and embryo transfer.

Undergoing Embryo Transfer and Implantation

Preparing for Transfer

To prepare the recipient’s uterus for potential implantation, you’ll be prescribed fertility hormones (progesterone and estrogen) for approximately 4 weeks. If you have ever completed an IVF cycle, you will find this part easy in comparison. In a donor egg treatment, the donor does the heavy lifting and takes the follicle-stimulating injections.

Once your uterus or your gestational carrier’s uterus is nearly ready, your donor’s eggs are thawed and fertilized with your partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) using a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This process inserts a single sperm into each egg to ensure fertilization.

Newly fertilized eggs are allowed to develop and divide under the care of an embryologist, who observes the growing embryos and chooses the most favorable ones for implantation. On Day 5 or 6, they may perform genetic analysis to look for any chromosomal defects.

Transfer and Implantation

Once the recipient is ready for implantation, a catheter is used to insert one or two embryos into the uterus, where they’ll hopefully implant into the uterine wall. Roughly two weeks later, a blood sample is taken to test the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone indicating pregnancy.

If successful, you’ll receive a positive test result and be able to experience a pregnancy.

Building Your Family with Donor Eggs

Couples facing infertility once had only very limited family-building options, the most common being surrogacy or adoption. Fortunately, with education and professional support — along with ongoing advances in reproductive technologies like donor egg IVF — hopelessness is being replaced with optimism.

You have a greater likelihood of experiencing pregnancy by taking advantage of the benefits of donor eggs.[10] You can look forward to seeing your baby develop and grow, savoring all the joys that new parenthood has to offer.


Thank you Donor Egg Bank USA for breaking down the ins and outs of donor egg IVF for our community! For more information about Donor Egg Bank USA, you can visit their website.


[1] https://www.sart.org/patients/third-party-reproduction/

[2] https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?reportingYear=2017#

[3] https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/third-party-reproduction-sperm-egg-and-embryo-donation-and-surrogacy/

[4] https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/age-and-fertility/

[5] https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=2410#donor-fresh-egg

[6] https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/blog/affording-care/shared-egg-donation/

[7] https://www.whattoexpect.com/getting-pregnant/fertility-tests-and-treatments/donor-egg/

[8] https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx [Accessed 2016]

[9] https://www.cdc.gov/art/

[10] https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/third-party-reproduction-sperm-egg-and-embryo-donation-and-surrogacy/


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