There are at least several IVF with donor eggs treatment options depending on your health situation, budget and time you have. Fertility clinics’ offers for IVF with donor eggs may also differ in various countries and regions. Commonly infertile couples can choose between a few IVF programs and they may encounter options mentioned below:
Complete egg donor cycle (exclusive donor)
- Fresh or frozen cycle – you receive all eggs from a chosen donor which means no other recipient will be getting them. This might be a good solution if you have certain expectations for physical characteristics and other features of a donor. In case of first attempt failure, you don’t need to wait for another donor who matches your phenotype requirements. Pros – more eggs, no problems concerning a second recipient, has the potential for more embryos to be frozen; lesser chance for cycle cancellation. Cons – only the price.
- Egg sharing or shared egg donor cycle – this program may have at least two variants: in some clinics it means that you will share eggs from a donor you picked with other patients, but it may be also a program where one infertile couple shares their eggs with another infertile couple if it is possible and safe. Pros – a lot cheaper option making it available for more people; less eggs are wasted.
Cons – statistically 10% lesser pregnancy rate, fewer embryos, cycle can be cancelled for the second recipient if there is not enough of eggs for both recipients, coordinating both with other recipient and donor.
- IVF with fresh donor eggs – recipient’s cycle is synchronized with the donor cycle through medication. After retrieving, donor’s oocytes are fertilized with sperm obtained from recipient’s partner or a donor (laboratory needs to receive fresh or frozen sperm on the retrieval day). During embryo culture recipient’s endometrium is prepared and after a couple of days embryos are transferred. Pros – wide selection of donors, potentially multiple embryos, high pregnancy rates.
Cons – must coordinate with the donor (her menstrual cycle and availability), whole procedure takes more time then with frozen eggs and usually is more expensive, sometimes donors are not immediately available.
- IVF with frozen donor eggs – frozen cycle – cycles of donor and recipient are not synchronized. After hormonal stimulation and pick-up, collected oocytes are frozen. The recipient decides when she is ready for her treatment. On the day of eggs thawing the partner donates sperm (or a couple may use sperm from a donor). After fertilizing oocytes, embryos are cultured and after a couple of days they are transferred. Pros – it is a quicker process compared to fresh eggs cycle. There is a wide selection of donors with immediate availability. You don’t have to coordinate with the donor, it is usually less expensive than the fresh egg cycle. Cons – lower number of embryos, around 50% of oocytes, are thawed properly, slightly smaller success rates than in fresh cycles, however, it depends on the experience of the IVF lab staff.
- IVF with frozen embryos (embryo donation) – an infertile couple undergoing the IVF process sometimes has more embryos than they need, so they can give those embryos to the bank to be passed on to another couple. Pros – it is not expensive, pregnancy rates are same as in fresh IVF cycles but with better rates for women aged between 35 and 37 and just before 40, about half the price of IVF with fresh eggs with less medication and less stress (no stimulation response, egg development and embryo growth issues)
Cons – very low accessibility of embryos in banks and clinics.
There is also the matter of choosing the type of donor. A donor could be anonymous or known or semi-known (when you know his identity but you don’t know them personally).
When you choose an anonymous donor you both need to sign an agreement and the donor renounces her rights towards the child. The child will not be able to know about their origins and about the donor until they are 18. Once they are 18 they can legally learn about their conception process. It is highly recommended to be straightforward and truthful with your child and gradually make them aware of your fertility journey, IVF treatment and their conception. It is not recommended to burn all the bridges between you and the donor. Why? It is especially important when an accident happens and your child may need a rare blood type transfusion.
If you decide to have a known donor, you need to establish some sort of relationship between the donor and your child. It is probable that your own relationship with the known donor will change. If it is your close friend, think about the impact it could have on your friendship and relation. In the case of a donor being someone very close to your family like your sister or cousin, it is very probable that she will have frequent contact with the child. It could be very emotional for all of you.
Carefully think all the options through, discuss them with your partner and, most of all, speak to your fertility doctor about your possible chances of pregnancy and live birth, potential risks and costs involved before you make your final decision. Sometimes even psychological consultation may be really helpful. Do not be discouraged and seek help and support wherever possible. Especially if you wonder what implications IVF with donor eggs may have for your family and future children.