7 questions to ask the IVF clinic before donor egg IVF

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If you are reading this article, you are probably in the process of choosing a clinic for your fertility treatment, and may have already contacted a few IVF clinics. If so, you will already know that comparing fertility clinics can be difficult.

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How to easily compare Egg Donation IVF Programme offers received from IVF clinics?

  1. Ask the fertility clinics the right questions. (see below)
  2. Ask the same questions to all the fertility clinics.
  3. Keep the same order and number questions or use bullets.
  4. Make sure the IVF clinics answer ALL the questions. If they don’t – reply and clearly mark which answers are not clear enough. It’s your treatment, do not leave things unexplained!
A young woman who is planning questions to ask about egg donation

E-mail the questions to the IVF clinic or ask them during initial consultation

Questions to ask IVF clinic

1. What is the clinic’s IVF outcome – donor egg IVF success rate? How is it measured?

Ask the fertility clinic if their egg donor success rates refer to:

  • Only one or a number of IVF cycles (e.g. cumulative indicators of 2-3 IVF attempts)
  • Clinical pregnancy – 6 week
  • Clinical pregnancy – 12 week
  • Take home baby – “live birth”

The evaluation of IVF treatment success is extremely difficult, especially when comparing one fertility clinic to another. For more information, go to the article on donor egg ivf success rates prepared by EggDonationFriends experts.

2. How many donor oocytes will I receive during my IVF programme?

The number of donor oocytes you receive determines the number of embryos you get after fertilization. From a medical point of view, it is always better to have more embryos than the bare minimum. You can always decide to freeze the remaining embryos and use them in the future. Ask your fertility doctor about the number of received oocytes. Is the minimum, average or maximum number of eggs guaranteed? This is one of the most important questions to ask before IVF – bear in mind that statistically speaking, you can receive on average 2 embryos from 6-8 fertilized eggs.

3. Does the clinic offer a guaranteed minimum number of received oocytes?

Clinics often guarantee a minimum number of oocytes the recipient receives. Important: if the IVF clinic offers “all oocytes from the donor”, common practice in IVF clinics in Spain, ask for more details.

  • Ask the fertility clinic what happens if only 3-4 oocytes are retrieved from the donor.
  • Ask about the average number of oocytes received from the donor.

4. Does the clinic offer a guarantee in terms of the number of obtained embryos?

If the clinic guarantees a number of embryos, make sure you ask if they are day 3 embryos or day 5 blastocysts. This is very important as statistically you get less day 5 blastocysts than day 3 embryos. On average, only 50% of day 3 embryos will survive and turn into blastocysts on day 5. For example, if you have four day 3 embryos you will probably end up with only two or one day 5 blastocysts. Embryo guarantees in most IVF clinics cover only day 3 embryos. Fertility clinics offer such packages as they know that on day 5 there will be less embryos left. They may stop developing between day 3 and day 5 and only about 50% of them are able to survive untill day 5. However, it is believed that day 5 embryo transfer can significantly increase the programme’s success rates. There are many medical publications showing higher success rates with day 5 embryo transfer.

5. Does the embryo guarantee depend on factors such as partner’s sperm quality? If so, what are conditions?

When the clinic offers an embryo guarantee, the basic requirement is for good quality partner’s sperm. Usually IVF clinics use WHO standards to assess the sperm parameters. If this is the case, make sure you ask the clinic which particular standards are being applied and what parameters are taken into account. Some fertility clinics apply their own standards. Find out from the clinic what sperm parameters are necessary to be able to benefit from embryo guarantee.

Make sure you have prepared all questions to ask a fertility doctor concerning what happens if despite good sperm parameters, you will not receive the guaranteed number of embryos. Can you get your money back if you do not receive any embryos? Can you get a discount on your egg donation program? Perhaps the clinic offers other solutions?

Bear in mind that even if your partner had his sperm tested before and his sperm parameters met the clinic’s criteria, during another testing at the clinic it may turn out that the semen has different parameters than it had before. This is completely normal: the parameters of your partner’s biological material can change with time. That is why it is always recommended to have the test done at the clinic, on the spot. If you have sperm testing done at your own cost at a different laboratory, the IVF clinic does not have to respect these results.

6. What happens if the IVF treatment programme fails? Will I get a refund if:

  • there are no oocytes for fertilization
  • there are too few oocytes (fewer than the required minimum the clinic offers)
  • there was no embryo transfer, in spite of the fertilization of the right number of oocytes
  • the number of embryos is fewer than was guaranteed.

Find out EggDonationFriends’ tips on what to do when IVF with donor eggs fails. 

7. What is the total estimated cost of a single donor egg IVF programme, including appointments, oocytes/donor eggs, required laboratory tests, IVF laboratory procedures, embryo transfer and medications?

  • Ask a fertility specialist or fertility clinic about the average cost of the IVF programme and find out if the following are included:
    appointment cost, ultrasound, preliminary and qualification tests of the egg donor, egg donor hormonal stimulation, egg retrieval, ICSI egg fertilization, other IVF laboratory procedures, e.g. blastocyst culture or AH (assisted hatching) and embryo transfer.
  • Choosing the IVF clinic: remember that in 90% of the clinics the IVF treatment cost will not include, such things as: embryo freezing (there may be a need to freeze the embryos even if you have not planned it), frozen embryo transfer in the patient’s next cycle, additional tests for the egg donor and/or egg recipient, e.g. carrier screening.
  • -even if fertility clinics or fertility specialists answers all your questions, you still may not know the full cost of the programme. An IVF programme is a type of treatment which, when performed in compliance with the medical code of practice and standard practices of infertility treatment, very much depends on the individual medical condition of the patient. Good IVF clinics should operate like this and offer personalized treatment plan.

Other questions to ask about IVF, e.g. IVF treatment plan?

We have talked about the most important questions to ask a fertility doctor about IVF. Although you can also ask for more details about the treatment plan. What is the optimal plan? Ask the fertility clinic or a fertility specialist how many visits you will need, how much time you should spend at the IVF clinic abroad, when you need to come with your partner, and when you can come on your own. Apart from questions to ask a fertility centre, you need to check what medical tests you can do in your home country and what tests should be done at the fertility clinic abroad. Finally, one of the most important questions about egg donation is whether you will need to pay the whole amount upfront or whether the clinic offers a payment plan according to the stages of egg donation treatment. First and foremost, do not be afraid to ask!

Every month, consultants from EggDonationFriends.com are helping hundreds of patients to find the best possible place for their treatment.

Given our past years experience in communicating with patients, we can tell that the main focus is on information regarding cost of the therapy and success rate provided by the clinic. In our opinion, those are not and should not be key factors in the process of clinic selection.

What we suggest is:

  • To pay attention to the particular clinic’s specialization – meaning – which aspect of IVF therapy is their field of expertise.
  • We emphasize checking if the clinic actually has experience in treating cases yours. Every patient is unique, the medical history and reasons of infertility are never the same, however some clinics have developed similar treatment protocols based on the numbers of similar cases they have worked with.

When asking clinic if they have experience in cases like yours, you are expected to share your medical history in detail.

  • The main focus will be, first of all, if you had previously failed IVF treatments?
  • How they were conducted (what was the doctor’s plan)?
  • Was there any additional treatment performed (PGS / PGT-A, MACS, AH, Embryo glue, Scratching etc)?
  • Were there any eggs retrieved (if yes how many of them and what was their quality)?
  • Was there a successful fertilisation?
  • How many embryos were developed and to which stage they were cultivated (day 3, day 5)?
  • How was the process of implantation?
  • If there was implantation and the miscarriage occurred, then on which week (up to 6th, between 6th and 12th or after 12th)?
  • All the additional information regarding surgeries and traumas suffered and other type of treatments will contribute to better understanding of each patient’s case.

In addition to this information you will still need a personal consultation at the IVF clinic to establish the right course of therapy. Prior the visit, we can anticipate information if the clinic were treating patients like me and with what outcome. It is always worth asking for any case studys of patients with similar issues.

If you want to know more about egg donation process, risks and options, we recommend reading Complete Egg Donation Guide.

questions to ask fertility specialist

Questions to as before you go for a donor egg IVF


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