For families struggling with infertility, donor egg in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a common route to conception. Each year, more than 8,000 babies are born in the United States as a result of donor egg IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. With recent advances in egg freezing technology and nation-wide donor egg banks such as donoreggbankusa.com, the use of frozen donor eggs is becoming increasingly common and more successful than ever. If you are considering the use of frozen donor eggs, it is important to understand what to expect from the process, as well as the rollercoaster of emotions you may experience during this journey.
Selecting a donor. The first step in the frozen donor egg process is to select a donor. Should you choose to use an anonymous donor, you will have access to information such as the donor’s physical characteristics, ethnic background, educational history, and other health information. Egg donors are between 21 and 33 years old and have undergone extensive medical, genetic, and psychological screenings to ensure they are great candidates and you have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.
Preparing your body. After a donor has been selected, the next step in frozen donor egg IVF is to prepare your body for conception. Unlike fresh donor egg IVF, there is no need to sync your menstrual cycle with that of a donor. This allows for more flexibility in your treatment. You will begin by taking birth control medication to suppress ovulation, followed by hormones—estrogen first, then progesterone. This process takes an average of four weeks.
Thawing the egg. Once a donor is selected and you are ready to cycle, frozen donor eggs are carefully thawed and prepared for fertilization. In order to increase the chances of a successful fertilization and transfer, it is important to choose a reproduction center that has experience working with vitrified eggs.
Fertilization. After eggs are thawed, they will be fertilized in a laboratory using the sperm of your husband or sperm donor. Three to six days later, the fertilized egg has become an embryo and is ready for transfer.
Transfer. Embryos are implanted into the uterus with hopes of continued growth. Doctors will generally transfer 1 to 2 embryos, depending on the age of the woman at the time of embryo creation. Any remaining embryos may be cryopreserved for future use.
Cost. Frozen donor egg IVF is an investment in yourself, your family, and your future. As such, the possible benefits outweigh the monetary cost for many. And because frozen donor egg IVF eliminates the need for ovulation-inducing medications, menstrual cycle syncing, and donor travel, it is more cost effective than traditional IVF treatments.
Time. A full IVF cycle lasts six weeks. Since frozen donor egg IVF does not require you to sync your menstrual cycle with that of a donor, it allows for greater flexibility in when to begin treatment.
Success rate. Because frozen donor eggs are extracted from women of peak fertile age, the chances of success may be higher than traditional IVF treatments.
While on this journey, it is common to experience a wide range of emotions. The emotions are fluid, with couples frequently moving from one emotion to another and back again through different stages of treatment.
Grief. Once the decision has been made to move forward with frozen donor egg IVF, many women feel a sense of grief for the biological child that she may never have. Taking time to mourn this loss is important for the health of the mother and future child.
Anxiety. In the time leading up to treatment, women often report experiencing worry and anxiety that treatments may be unsuccessful, especially if prior treatments have failed. It can be difficult to clear the mind of previous disappointments and allow yourself to feel hope for the future.
Hope. During fertilization and transfer, it is natural to feel hopeful about the potential success of the treatment. This is the time to trust the body to take care of the embryo on its own.
Relief. Once the embryo has successfully implanted in the uterus, there is a rush of relief at the result of a successful pregnancy.
Joy! If treatments result in the mother’s delivery of a happy, healthy baby, there is no limit to the excitement that will be felt when you get to hold your bundle of joy!
THE BEST ROUTE FOR YOUR FAMILY
As egg freezing technology advances, more and more couples are turning to frozen donor egg IVF to help start a family. From selecting a frozen egg donor, to fertilization and transfer, this is a journey with a wide range of possible emotions and information to consider.
Heidi is the Executive Vice President of Donor Egg Bank. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience and has worked extensively in the field of reproductive endocrinology. Having been unsuccessful at traditional IUI and IVF treatments, Heidi personally understands the struggles of infertility. After many years of trying to conceive, she ultimately built her family through adoption and donor egg treatment. She always believed that if she didn’t give up, her ultimate goal of becoming a parent would someday become a reality.