Have you tried traditional IVF using your own eggs and not had success? Many women in this difficult situation are turning to frozen donor egg IVF. By choosing to use donor eggs from a young woman under 32, you can increase your odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Frozen donor eggs have become an attractive option since the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the experimental label on egg freezing a few years ago. Success rates are now approaching those achieved through fresh donor egg IVF.
If you’re considering frozen donor egg IVF, it may be helpful to educate yourself on the following 7-step process of a typical cycle that takes about 6 weeks.
Enroll In A Frozen Donor Egg Program
After you’ve taken the first step and enrolled in a frozen donor egg program, this will be your chance to ask questions and explore the financial plans available to help with egg donor costs.
Select An Egg Donor
By viewing the egg bank’s database of donors, you’ll be able to find a donor who suits your individual preferences. You will be able to evaluate a wide variety of donor profiles that reflect the diversity of the United States.
The detailed profiles typically include medical history, genetic disorders, fertility history, college degree, employment status, and a few short-answer questions, including her reason for donating eggs. You will even have access to donors’ photo albums to assess their physical characteristics if desired.
Prepare For the IVF Transfer
In order to prepare the endometrial lining of your uterus for implantation, you will need to take fertility medications, including estrogen and progesterone, for approximately four weeks prior to the embryo transfer. According to Baby Center, an endometrium of at least 7 mm is critical for a successful donor egg IVF cycle. Your doctor will do an ultrasound to measure your uterine lining prior to your transfer to ensure that the optimum thickness is reached.
When you are ready, the egg bank will send the frozen eggs to the fertility clinic of your choice via priority overnight shipping. You will receive a minimum of 5 mature eggs, the number deemed optimal to produce one healthily-developing embryo for transfer.
Thaw and Fertilize Eggs
Once your uterus is ready for the embryo to be implanted, the embryologist will start the fertilization process. Eggs are removed from the storage vat and quickly rehydrated or warmed. The embryologist will examine the eggs and grade them based on their quality level. Then the eggs will be combined with your partner’s or donor’s sperm and incubated overnight. During frozen donor egg IVF, doctors typically recommend fertilizing the eggs using a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). With ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into each mature egg with a needle, instead of allowing sperm to penetrate the egg in a Petri dish.
Undergo IVF Transfer
After fertilization, the embryos will begin to develop. Three days after the egg retrieval, some of the eggs that were successfully fertilized become 6- to 10-celled embryos. By the fifth day, some of these embryos will develop into blastocysts with a fluid-filled cavity and tissues that are starting to separate into a placenta and baby. The embryologist then selects the most viable embryo or embryos, depending on various factors discussed with your doctor, to place into your uterus 3 to 5 days after fertilization. The doctor will transfer the resulting embryos into your uterus by inserting a thin tube called a catheter through your cervix.
In some cases, there may be more than one or two viable embryos, in which case the additional embryos can be cryopreserved and used for a potential future cycle.
Take A Pregnancy Test
Two weeks after the embryo transfer you will receive a blood pregnancy test that measures the level of hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, also known as the pregnancy hormone) in your system. The clinic will continue to measure your hCG levels until you’re released to a traditional OB/GYN at around 7 weeks.
When a woman is told that using her own eggs to get pregnant is impossible, the emotional results can be devastating. But by considering frozen donor egg IVF, her sense of hope and her dreams of having a family can happily be restored.