Making the choice between a frozen egg cycle and a fresh egg donor cycle can feel confusing. On one hand, it would seem as though using an egg that hasn’t been frozen and thawed would have better results. But on the other hand, the doctors are telling you that frozen egg cycles are just as successful as fresh ones. So which choice is right for you? Here is a look at how these two methods differ.
Fresh Donor Cycles
A fresh donor cycle is one that is completed in real time. Your donor will not have her medical cycle or egg extraction until after you choose her, so there will be more lead up time to get your eggs and, ultimately, to having your embryo transfer.
In a fresh donor cycle, doctors will work to stimulate your donor’s menstrual cycles with your cycle (or your surrogate’s cycle, if you’re one). The hope is that your donor’s eggs can be retrieved and fertilized just in time to be transferred directly to the uterus without having the need to be frozen. This can represent an additional amount of time between donor selection and transfer, and for some intended parents, that’s a deal killer.
While it is true that you’re less likely to lose embryos to the freezing or thawing process, the science shows that a fresh embryo transfer is not more successful, statistically than a transfer with a previously frozen embryo. So there is no disadvantage to choosing a fresh or frozen embryo transfer.
Financially, a fresh donor cycle will cost more than a frozen cycle. This is due in large part to the need to compensate your donor for her travel needs.
Finally, one perk of choosing fresh cycles is that you can freeze excess embryos. You’re more likely to wind up with more viable embryos as a result of a fresh transfer than a frozen one, which could increase the odds of a better, stronger embryo. Once you’ve selected the best embryos to transfer, you may freeze the remaining embryos for future transfers, or if all goes well, a future sibling. There will be no anxiety over finding the same donor in the future in order to ensure that future children share a biological mother and are related to each other.
Frozen Donor Cycles
The major benefit of a frozen donor cycle is that it is ready to go as soon as you are. If you work with an egg bank, all donors have been prescreened by the agency prior to their medical cycle and egg retrieval. This means that, once you select your donor, the frozen eggs are ready to go as soon as your surrogate (or your own uterus) is ready for transfer. There is no lag time spent trying to align menstrual cycles. This gives you a lot of flexibility in coordinating schedules and travel and could speed up the time spent between donor selection and transfer.
A major disadvantage to frozen cycles is that not all embryos or eggs will survive the thaw. That means that you could purchase a lot of 15 eggs, and wind up with very few viable eggs to create embryos and even fewer strong embryos for transfer. Don’t let this scare you, though. Frozen lots of eggs are still very high quality and you will wind up with strong embryos after thaw and fertilization. You just may have fewer than if you chose a fresh egg retrieval and transfer.
Frozen egg lots also tend to be less expensive than fresh eggs. This is due, largely, to the fact that you will not have to pay travel expenses for the donor. The eggs are all retrieved in the hometown of the donor. This could also limit your pool of applicants from which you may choose, however.
Finally, working with a frozen egg donor gives you perhaps the lowest level of information about your donor. While you can rest assured that the egg donation clinic has thoroughly screened and cleared her, you will not be able to speak with her and will have limited access to her personal background information. You will also likely only have access to childhood photos of your chosen donor. For many intended parents, having the option to know more about their donor offers peace of mind. The absence of this familiarity may be a deal killer for you.
As always, our goal at Family Inceptions is to give you the information that you need so that you feel empowered to make the right choice for your family. It’s not our goal to give you directions, but rather to offer guidance for whatever choices you make. We’re happy to speak with you more about the differences in fresh and frozen cycles if you’re still unsure which method is best for you.