Once you have decided to build your family through egg donation, the next major decision you will likely face is whether to do a fresh cycle with a donor through an agency or use frozen eggs purchased through a clinic or an egg bank. While egg banks will often market themselves as the more convenient, less costly option, there many other factors to consider, some of which have the potential to impact your future children and your family many years down the road.
At Egg Donor Solutions (EDS), we are committed to ethical standards and doing what’s best for all parties involved – intended parents (IPs), donors, and the donor-conceived individuals who are created through egg donation. Below are some things to consider when choosing between fresh versus frozen.
Someone to guide you through the process
Our EDS team is dedicated to educating IPs and donors, as well as guiding and supporting both parties through the egg donation process. For IPs, this involves everything from helping you find the right donor for your family to navigating the legal agreement with your donor to coordinating with your clinic to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Number of eggs
When you choose a donor through an agency like EDS, you will receive all the eggs that are retrieved – typically 10-25 eggs, depending on your clinic’s protocol. The eggs can be fertilized immediately to create embryos for a fresh transfer, and the remaining embryos can be frozen for future family building. A fresh cycle is often the best option for IPs who want more than one child.
When using an egg bank, you will purchase frozen eggs in a “lot” or “cohort,” which usually includes six to eight mature eggs. The eggs must be thawed before they can be fertilized, which may reduce the number of embryos that make it to the blastocyst stage. Many egg banks will guarantee that at least one embryo will make it to the blastocyst stage, so frozen eggs may be a good option for families who only want one child.
Families with the same donor
At EDS, egg donors are allowed to complete a maximum of six cycles, the standard recommended by the ASRM, and the IPs receive all the eggs from a single cycle. This means that no more than six families will receive eggs from the same donor. With frozen banks, the eggs from a single cycle may be split between multiple IPs, increasing the number of families with the same donor, and thereby the number of potential donor siblings, exponentially.
Contact with your donor
When working with EDS, you have the ability to customize your desired relationship with your donor both now and in the future. This can include an in-person meeting or video conference with your donor (facilitated by a member of our team), options for ongoing or future contact, and the option for your future children to meet the donor one day if that is their choice.
“When you go to a frozen egg bank, you lose the ability to have direct communication with your donor and control over things that may be important to you,” says Lauren Gaydos Duffer, a Dallas-based attorney who has been partnering with EDS for nearly 10 years to draft legal agreements for IPs and egg donors. “The protection an agency gives you cannot be replaced.”
EDS requires a direct agreement between IPs and donors to protect the legal interests and rights of both parties. Our team will guide you through the legal process and ensure that both you and your donor have legal representation from an attorney who specializes in third-party reproduction. The agreement will establish your parental rights and terminate any rights or responsibilities the donor has to the children created through egg donation. It will also define the guidelines for future contact and communication, such the donor keeping her contact information current with the Donor Sibling Registry.
With a frozen egg bank, egg donors are almost always exclusively anonymous, so you will not have the option to have a customized legal agreement with your chosen donor. You will sign consent forms with the egg bank, but it does not carry the same weight as a legal agreement between you and your donor.
Length of time
The timing for a fresh cycle is slightly longer than when using frozen eggs because medical screening and legal contracts must be completed before the donor begins the cycle. From match to retrieval, the average length of time for a fresh cycle is about three to four months. Donors at frozen egg banks have been prescreened, so the timing is shorter at about one to three months on average.
The typical cost for a fresh cycle at EDS is $17,000 to $27,000 with most families spending an average of $20,000 versus approximately $14,000 to $17,000 for a “cohort” of six to eight frozen eggs. These fees do not include costs associated with the fertility clinic for the donor’s medication and monitoring, egg retrieval and fertilization, and embryo transfer to the intended mother or a gestational surrogate.
The success rates for embryo transfers and live births are higher with fresh eggs than frozen. With a fresh cycle, the average success rate for a positive pregnancy is 53% to 57% versus a national average of 35% to 50% with frozen eggs. The live birth rate using fresh eggs is 49.2% versus 43.1%.
Are you an intended parent trying to decide between a fresh versus frozen egg donation cycle to help you grow your family? You can learn more about our program at www.eggdonorsolutions.com or contact us at Match@CreateAHappyFamily.com. We would be happy to answer any questions you have and honored to support you in your journey to parenthood.