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How Does the Frozen Donor Egg Process Work?

egg donorThe process of choosing a donor egg for in vitro fertilization (IVF) can seem overwhelming, especially since the choice comes at a time when emotions are high. However, donor banks make the donor egg process as simple as possible to minimize additional stress in an already stressful time.

The first step in the frozen donor egg process begins before a prospective patient even considers donor eggs as a fertility treatment, when donor applicants are screened and evaluated. This process varies from one bank to another but there are FDA required standards that include the following examinations and consultations:

Screening questionnaire

Initial consultation and interview

Physical exam including Pap smear and cervical cultures

Psychological evaluation

Consent forms

Genetic testing and counseling

Medication counseling

Ultrasound

Blood work (HIV1/HIV2, Hep C Antibody, GC/Chlamidia cultures, Hep B Surface Ag and Core Ab, and RPR)

The various screenings and examinations ensure that the donor is healthy and capable of handling the process of donating eggs.

Egg Banking Service

If a patient is considering donor egg IVF as a treatment method, they may sign up for a donor egg banking service. From there, they are able to review donor profiles including details such as work history, physical characteristics, aptitudes, education, and donor’s personal statements. Most egg banks have an extensive and diverse database of donors to choose from.

Once a donor has been selected, payment can be made and the eggs can be shipped from the egg bank to the treatment facility. While it may be necessary for the egg bank to request to transfer the patient to a clinic or reproductive center that has experience in thawing frozen donor eggs, most cases allow for patients to work with the reproductive center of their choice.

Treatment Process

When the donor eggs have been received, treatment for the fertility patient can begin. An embryologist will examine the eggs and fertilize them by combining them with sperm cells and incubating them. If fertilization has been an issue during other IVF cycles, a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is manually injected into each egg, may be employed.

After fertilization, the eggs must develop before they can be implanted. Embryologists culture the eggs for three to five days after fertilization. After three days, the fertilized eggs have become six to ten cell embryos, and after five days these embryos become blastocysts. A blastocyst contains a fluid filled cavity that is beginning to become a placenta and baby. Once the eggs develop to this point, the embryologist selects the most viable embryos for implantation.

Once the eggs are selected, the fertility specialist transfers one to two embryos into the uterus. If the treatment is successful (frozen donor eggs have a fairly high success rate), an egg will implant in the patient’s uterine wall and develop into a healthy baby.

There are many, many options available for patients who are trying to conceive. Fresh donor eggs are considerably more expensive and have a higher cancellation rate due to unpredictable life events. Those risks are eliminated with the use of frozen donor eggs. Some egg banks, such as Donor Egg Bank USA, have financial plans that guarantee a delivery or a full refund. This way, they haven’t thrown away money on a treatment that didn’t work for them. It is often significantly less expensive than fresh donor egg IVF, as well. But perhaps the most appealing aspect of the frozen egg donor process is that there are people there to help the patient through every step of the process.