If you prefer to choose a frozen donor egg IVF cycle the process itself is simpler and less expensive. Initial diagnostic evaluation of the recipient couple would be almost the same as in the fresh donor egg IVF cycle. (see above: Step 3 Initial Screening Tests) However, one time saving difference is that a mock stimulation cycle of the recipient’s uterus is not necessary since frozen eggs will not be thawed and fertilized if the actual uterine stimulation is suboptimal. This can save 2-4 weeks of the initial evaluation time.
Once the evaluation is completed, the next step for the recipient couple would be to choose from a list of donors that have ALREADY had their eggs retrieved and frozen. See Pricing for Frozen Donor Egg IVF. Once these eggs are selected, the female recipient will undergo a process which is identical to that of a fresh donor egg IVF cycle: hormonal suppression using hormonal contraceptives and Lupron daily injections followed by stimulation of the uterine lining with estrogen and progesterone. At the appropriate time in the uterine stimulation, the donor’s frozen eggs will be warmed and fertilized with the male recipient’s sperm (or donor sperm if necessary) and grown in the lab for either three or five days. Once the uterine lining has achieved the appropriate state for implantation, Advanced Fertility Care Physicians will perform the embryo transfer into the intended mother’s uterus. The moment of truth comes 10 to 12 days after the transfer when we perform the pregnancy test.
What are the benefits or drawbacks of a Frozen Donor Egg IVF Cycle versus a Fresh Donor Egg IVF Cycle?
Until the last few years, eggs, unlike embryos (fertilized eggs) could not be successfully frozen and thawed in the laboratory setting. Huge advancements in media and laboratory techniques have allowed specially equipped and trained embryologists to perform egg freezing with significant improvements in pregnancy success rates. At Advanced Fertility Care, we have been performing egg freezing studies since January 2009 and have seen very good results. We are also proud to have reported the first pregnancy in Arizona resulting from the use of frozen eggs. Despite this fact, in the eyes of many, egg freezing (oocyte vitrification) is still considered investigational without long term success and outcome data available. For many, this serves as a drawback for the use of frozen eggs. However, as more centers conduct studies and more data becomes available, we are confident that donor egg banks and egg freezing will become more common and likely take the place of the fresh donor egg IVF cycle in the future.
While pregnancy rates resulting from the use of frozen eggs are lower than that of traditional fresh donor egg IVF success rates, the potential benefits to a recipient couple of utilizing frozen donor eggs may still outweigh any potential risks. Some such benefits include significantly decreased time to achieving pregnancy and significantly lower costs over traditional fresh donor egg IVF. Another advantage is for couples who are concerned with having excess frozen embryos after successfully completing their family. By choosing to use frozen donor eggs, only a small number of eggs are fertilized thereby greatly minimizing the chance of having excess embryos to freeze. Ultimately, for many couples with diminished ovarian function, the cost of undergoing a fresh donor egg IVF cycle may make successfully starting a family impossible. However, having the possibility of successfully starting or growing a family using donor eggs, but at a much lower cost, may make that dream a reality.