The process of IVF with frozen donor eggs is similar to fresh donor-egg cycles, although the differences between them may have an impact on the success rates. Egg freezing may compromise the structure of the egg cells, thereby lowering the pregnancy success rates. However, fresh donor-egg cycles are not simple, as they require synchronization between the egg donor and the recipient.
For hundreds of couples with fertility problems, having a baby is a long way filled with disillusionment. Egg donation, the most commonly employed method from age 45 onwards, is a fertility treatment that enables a number of couples achieve their dream of becoming parents.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
When to use donor eggs
The number of treatments using donor eggs is increasing due to the delay of maternity as well as to the excellent results of this treatment. In the case of women older than 40, the chances of pregnancy are multiplied by 7. This is an important figure, and even more so in an age in which complications to have a pregnancy are greater.
It is also recommended in the following cases:
- After the failure of more than five in vitro fertilization cycles
- Genetic alterations in one of the members of the couple
- Premature ovarian failure (POF)
Women over 38 desiring to have a baby have been shown to have problems in 1 out of every 3 cases. For this reason, the most feasible option is using donor eggs. Female donors should be healthy women aged between 18 and 35, compatible with the recipient couple, and able to pass a strict specialized medical screening.
IVF process using fresh vs frozen donor eggs
The recipient woman receives fresh eggs from the donor the same day they are retrieved, or after a certain time being frozen. In case you are about to receive fresh eggs, the menstrual cycles of both women have to be synchronized. These are the steps to follow:
- The donor undergoes ovulation induction to trigger egg production and increase the number of mature eggs.
- Preparation of the endometrium, a simple and non-invasive treatment with progesterone, monitored by ultrasound scan.
In case it is done with frozen donor eggs, the donor is stimulated until it is determined by sonogram whether her follicles have grown enough, and then egg retrieval is scheduled. Eggs will be harvested and frozen in liquid nitrogen until a compatible recipient should need them.
Eggs are removed or defrosted and fertilized in the laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using partner-donated sperm. Two or three days after that, the best embryos (one or two, depending on each case) are inserted into the uterus of the receiving woman in order for them to continue developing and thus lead to a pregnancy.
Taking into account that its success figures per cycle range between 40-70%, this is the way every day more women succeed in becoming pregnant and winning their struggle against infertility, even those who have been trying to conceive for a long time already.
Do frozen donor eggs work?
Egg freezing or egg vitrification is a revolutionary assisted reproduction technique through which the eggs, once harvested, can remain stored indefinitely. After the retrieval of the donor eggs, they are frozen up until a recipient needs them for an IVF cycle.
The main advantage is that egg quality is not compromised even before the thawing process. In other words, it is a way for the quality of the eggs to be preserved as it was before being frozen. On average, the survival rate of frozen eggs is around 90% nowadays.
Also, the benefits of using frozen donor eggs or fresh donor eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) are significant taking into account the timeline: egg donor synchronization is not required in frozen egg donor cycles, thereby reducing the cost of egg donation.
In the case of donor-egg IVF cycles, the success rates are almost equal, regardless of whether frozen or fresh donor eggs are used. Pregnancy rates with frozen donor eggs are around 43% versus 49% with fresh donor eggs.
Some years ago, the egg donation process was rather complicated from the logistical point of view, as synchronization between the cycles of the egg donor and the recipient was necessary to guarantee a minimum level of egg quality.
The frozen donor-egg IVF process is way simpler, as it allows for egg retrieval to be carried out in the right moment, and then freeze the eggs until they are needed. The eggs are stored for an indefinite period without reducing their quality levels.
Egg vitrification is what has allowed the creation of frozen donor eggs banks all around the world. This way, donor eggs are stored till matched with an ideal recipient, so that the IVF process can be started, as it happens in the case of sperm banks.
It should be kept in mind that most egg banks provide their eggs in bundles of 6 or 8, though it depends on the country and the legal issues governing the process there. An advantage is that patients without insurance coverage can lower the cost of the treatment. In the majority of cases, a cycle with frozen donor eggs is half the cost of fresh donor-egg cycles.
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