Are Frozen Donor Egg Cycles The Best Option?

I’ve been fielding more questions from intended parents about finding frozen donor eggs. Many people have been told by their clinics that this is an easy, cheaper option in third-party fertility. It seems simple – frozen donor eggs are there for the taking – no need to go through a synchronized fresh cycle with a donor, right? In basic terms, yes, but there are many harsh realities of trying to find a cohort* of frozen eggs from a donor that you like.

I’m still determined to go ahead with using frozen eggs from a donor. What next?

Your first stop is your clinic, which may have a cohort of frozen eggs from a donor that appeals to you. If you can make up your mind on the spot you’re good to go. The reality of egg donation in general, and even more so with frozen egg options, appealing donors get chosen quickly!

So if you want to think about this life changing decision overnight she, or her frozen eggs, may not be there tomorrow.

Here are some things to consider when deciding to use frozen donor eggs:

If you are already working with a clinic you have 1-3 possible options:

  • Your clinic’s in house frozen egg bank IF it exists
  • An egg bank consortium, IF your clinic is partnered with one
  • Possibly one of two egg banks that will ship to any clinic, IF your clinic will work with one of them

If you go straight to one of the frozen egg banks, you can choose a clinic that has partnered with that egg bank. However, your decision will still need to be made quickly.

Let’s assume you’ve found your clinic, chosen a cohort of eggs from an egg donor you like. What next?

When you choose a cohort you have:

  • At most 6 eggs
  • They may not all thaw well
  • You usually have only enough for one transfer
  • Ideal for those wanting only one child

If it doesn’t work:

  • You may be able to choose another cohort at no charge
  • This will not be with the same donor since her eggs will most likely be gone
  • It may be difficult to find another donor that fits your family within the options available
  • You are not likely to have frozen embryos left to do a sibling cycle to have children who are genetically related to your first child
  • Success rates with fresh cycles (50-80%) is still higher than with frozen (about 30%)
  • Cost of purchasing a cohort of eggs $12,000 - $15,000
  • This does not include the cost of medications to prepare your uterus for the transfer
  • This does not include the cost of the medical procedure for transfer

Cost for a fresh cycle is higher but:

  • All of the embryos created are yours
  • Remaining embryos can be frozen for a future sibling cycle or if your cycle doesn’t work and you want to try again.
  • You don’t have to decide on another donor as you would with a frozen cohort of eggs

In my opinion, choosing an egg donor from a frozen bank may appear on the surface to be more practical and economical but only if you see donor eggs as an interchangeable widget or “just an egg”. Eggs are not ever ‘just eggs’ - this is one type of tissue that is so incredibly unique, this ‘egg’ will make up half of your child’s genetics. It can be excruciatingly difficult to pick an egg donor who you feel fit into your family. While your clinic may be filled with caring people, most have not had to face this decision while building their own families. While they want you to find what you want they may not fully understand your struggle. It could be that the frozen egg bank is the best way for you to create your family but we want you to know the realities of your options.

*cohort – is usually 6 frozen eggs

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Gail Sexton Anderson is the founder of Donor Concierge.

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