Fresh vs. Frozen Donor Eggs: Which to Choose? Aug 08, 2023 | by Donor Nexus

Choosing Between Fresh or Frozen Donor Eggs for IVF

If you have made the leap to using donor eggs, choosing between fresh or frozen eggs for IVF is one of the first steps in the process. In this blog, we dive into a detailed comparison of fresh vs frozen donor eggs; categorized by success rates, cost, timeline, and other factors. At Donor Nexus, we provide recipients with access to a variety of fresh egg donors and we also have a top-rated frozen egg bank

Fresh vs. Frozen Donor Eggs: Introduction

Originally the only option available, using fresh donor eggs is still a popular option today. However, using frozen donor eggs has been growing in popularity over the past decade due to advancements in egg freezing technology using the vitrification process. 

How Does a Fresh Donor Egg Cycle Work?

In a fresh egg donor cycle, the eggs are retrieved from the egg donor and immediately fertilized by sperm (from the male partner or donor) in a laboratory. Next, in about 5-6 days after the egg retrieval, 1-2 of the resulting embryo(s) are transferred into the uterus of the recipient or the embryos are biopsied and sent for preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A). Alternatively, the resulting embryo(s) can be frozen for later use. The recipient is typically the intended mother but in some cases may be a gestational carrier, also known as a surrogate.

How Does a Frozen Donor Egg Cycle Work?

In a frozen donor egg cycle, the eggs are retrieved from the egg donor then frozen using the vitrification process and stored until they are needed. Frozen eggs can be stored indefinitely. Once a recipient is ready for the frozen eggs, the eggs are carefully thawed and fertilized by the designated sperm to create embryos. The embryos are grown in a laboratory for 3-6 days and then transferred into the prospective mother or designated gestational carrier.

Whether using fresh or frozen donor eggs, the goal is for the embryo to implant in the lining of the uterus to create a pregnancy. 

Frozen vs. Fresh Donor Eggs: Comparing the Most Important Factors

1. Success Rates

Let’s get right into what matters most: having a baby! It’s important to research the success rates of your chosen fertility clinic, egg donor agency, and/or egg bank, particularly with frozen cycles, to make sure that the clinic is well equipped in handling frozen eggs. 

Generally, using fresh donor eggs has a higher success rate than using frozen donor eggs.

Fresh Donor Egg Success Rates

The most recent CDC data from 2020 reported the national average success rate (live birth rate) for IVF using fresh donor eggs at 54.7%. The most recent data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) from 2021 reported a 41.4% success rate for fresh donor eggs. Donor Nexus' cumulative fresh donor egg cycle success rate (live birth rate) as of January 2022 is 67.6%. 

Frozen Donor Egg Success Rates

The most recent CDC data from 2020 reported the national average success rate (live birth rate) for IVF using frozen donor eggs at 47.4%. The most recent data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) from 2021 reported a 39.1% success rate for frozen donor eggs. As of 2022, the Donor Nexus frozen donor egg cycle live birth rate is 48.5%. 

If you are considering using donor eggs for IVF, we’ve outlined fresh vs. frozen egg donors to compare your options. Learn more and browse our database now!

2. The Amount of Donor Eggs You'll Receive

The amount of donor eggs received in both fresh and frozen cycles varies across clinics, egg banks, and agencies. Generally speaking, selecting a fresh egg donor cycle usually provides the intended parent(s) with a larger amount of eggs than a frozen donor egg cycle. At Donor Nexus, the intended parent(s) receive all of the eggs retrieved in a fresh cycle. The average number of eggs retrieved in one cycle is 24, with 21 being mature, usable eggs. Surplus embryos can be frozen and stored for future use, donated to be used by other patients, or discarded.

Comparatively, our Frozen Donor Egg Cycles includes a cohort of 6 mature eggs which we can ship to your designated IVF clinic. The number of frozen donor eggs shipped are dependent on the number of donor eggs available and the number of eggs you request. Most of our frozen egg donors have 10-20 frozen donor eggs available. If the donor has more eggs available and the recipient is interested, more eggs may be shipped. 

2. Financial Investment

It’s no secret that there are many costs invested into donor egg IVF, whether using fresh or frozen donor eggs. At Donor Nexus, our Fresh Egg Donor Cycle starts at $20,300 USD and the cost for one cohort of frozen donor eggs starts at $19,500 USD. These fees cover the cost of using an egg donor and IVF costs to your fertility clinic are separate. We partner with CapexMD to provide our patients with access to fertility loans. 

3. Timeline

The length of time it takes from start to finish may be an important factor to consider, depending on your situation. Generally, using frozen donor eggs is a more straightforward, and therefore quicker, process than using a fresh egg donor. A frozen donor egg cycle typically only takes 6 to 8 weeks whereas a fresh cycle takes 2 to 4 months. 

Traditionally, a fresh donor egg cycle would require the egg donor and recipient to take specific hormones to synchronize their menstrual cycles to ensure that the recipient’s uterus is ready for the eggs as soon as the donor has reached ovulation. Nowadays, only a small portion of recipients have a fresh transfer. Most clinics cycle the egg donor, create embryos, and freeze the good embryos before starting the recipient mother or gestational carrier (GC) on medications. However, the timeline is longer because a fresh egg donor cycle requires the donor to complete her prescreening evaluations (which generally takes 1-2 months) before starting her stimulation medications to retrieve and freeze her eggs.

During a frozen donor egg cycle, the donor has already completed and passed her prescreening evaluations, taken the medications and completed the egg retrieval. This means there is less time spent waiting and the cycle can begin almost immediately.

4. Cycle Completion 

As stated above, in a frozen donor egg cycle the donor has already completed her part, and so, there's minimal risk of delay or cancellation. However, in a fresh egg donor cycle, there are a few external factors that could cause delays or cancellation of the cycle. These unforeseen scenarios, although rare, can and do occur:

  • Donor not passing prescreen evaluations
  • Donor decides not to move forward
  • Donor not genetically compatible with the designated sperm provider
  • Donor has a cyst on her ovary which delays the cycle
  • Donor gets COVID and has to cancel
  • Donor does not respond well to cycle medications
  • Donor fails to take the trigger shot at the right time

With a frozen donor egg cycle, the donor’s work is already done. Since she has already successfully gone through the egg donation cycle and retrieval, there is no need to worry about the above external factors. From our experience, about 20% of egg donors do not make it through the screening process. 

Shipping Frozen Donor Eggs Worldwide

At Donor Nexus, we are able to ship frozen donor eggs throughout the US and internationally. In order to provide superior outcomes to our patients, we are selective in which fertility clinics we partner with and will only allow frozen donor eggs from our egg bank to be sent to the best clinics worldwide. Once the eggs are received by your IVF clinic, they will handle the thawing process before fertilization and transfer. 

Should I Use Fresh or Frozen Donor Eggs?

Ultimately, choosing between fresh or frozen donor eggs is dependent on your specific situation. If you are unsure which is best for you, we recommend consulting with your IVF physician. We hope you found this comparison helpful in understanding fresh vs frozen egg donors. If you have any additional questions, our team is here to help.

Find Additional Resources and Inspiration in the Donor Nexus Blog

The information provided in this blog is intended to provide a generalized overview and is not to be considered medical advice. Please consult with your physician for actual medical advice specific to you.


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