March 27, 2018

Unconventional Conception: Frozen Donated Eggs and You

A growing number of people need reproductive assistance to conceive. Single mothers and fathers, same-sex couples, and those with ambitious career goals are all members of this hopeful parent-to-be group. Thankfully, there are more options for conception than many people realize. While some alternatives seem unusual, they offer suitable solutions for the multitude of lifestyles in today’s population. Approaches such as surrogacy, adoption, sperm donation, and egg donation through organizations like are all becoming more mainstream and accepted as time goes on. 

The Benefits of Donor Eggs 

IVF is an increasingly common practice thanks to later-life pregnancies. As more celebrities voice their infertility experiences, surrogacy and adoption are becoming more accepted avenues to parenthood. Even though donor eggs still remain a less-talked-about subject, the success rates don’t lie. A woman under the age of 35 has about a 40% chance of a successful pregnancy using traditional IVF. By the age of 42, her chances drop to just over 4%. Using a donor egg increases the chances of any childbearing-age woman having a successful pregnancy to nearly 50%. This is because donor eggs are acquired from young, healthy women with equally young, healthy eggs.

Fresh vs. Frozen 

Donor eggs are available as fresh or frozen, although frozen eggs have a few advantages over fresh. For a fresh donor egg cycle, the menstrual cycles of the donor and the recipient must be synchronized. More medications are used to achieve this, adding to the overall cost of the procedure and the eggs themselves. In addition, the donor and recipient must be in the same geographical area, potentially adding in travel costs. If any unforeseen circumstances affect the donor or the donor’s cycle, the entire procedure can be postponed for months. While fresh egg donors go through a pre-screening process, they frequently aren’t completely assessed until after they’ve been chosen by a recipient. The donation process has to wait until the full screening is complete before the process can begin. 

On the other hand, frozen egg donors are completely screened and have had their eggs retrieved. This makes it much easier to fit an IVF procedure into a busy schedule. There is no need to synchronize menstrual cycles, thus limiting hormonal medications needed to prepare the recipient’s uterus for implantation. Further, some egg banks offer several financing options, including money-back guarantees if pregnancy is not achieved. In the end, the overall cost of using frozen eggs is about half the cost of fresh eggs. 

Most importantly, whether choosing fresh eggs or frozen, the recipient gets the chance to carry her child to term and go through all the joys of pregnancy. 

The Donor Egg Process 

After registering with a donor egg bank, prospective parents search through full donor profiles and select the right one for them. Some parents look for traits similar to the future mother’s to ensure a family resemblance, while others simply look for qualities they feel are important. Once the donor is chosen, the eggs are expedited to the parents’ fertility clinic to wait in frozen storage until the mother is prepped for implantation. 

The recipient takes medication - usually estrogen and progesterone - for four weeks to prepare her uterus for implantation. The eggs are thawed and fertilized using her partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm. Then, the fertilized eggs are left to develop under the care of an embryologist who monitors their growth and development, ultimately choosing the best one or two embryos for implantation. Genetic testing can be done at this stage to minimize the chances of chromosomal abnormalities.

Using a long, thin catheter, one to two embryos are inserted into the uterus where they will hopefully implant into the lining and continue growing. A blood test is performed two weeks later to confirm pregnancy. 

Changing Realities 

Today’s families have a wonderful variety of structures and lifestyles. It’s fitting that reproductive technologies have given rise to new methods of conception, making the possibility of children a reality for many. Donor egg IVF is giving hope where there was none, and bringing joy into the lives of many who, not too long ago, could not have ever dreamed of having their own children.

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