IVF with donor eggs has a much higher success rate than IVF with a patients' own eggs. However, it’s still not 100%. In this article, we will go over the reasons for using donor eggs, how long it takes to use donor eggs, the chances of it working, and why donor egg cycles sometimes fail.
Reasons for egg donation
According to the CDC, a substantial 12% of all IVF cycles in the U.S., over 16,000 a year, involve eggs retrieved from a donor. And donor-egg IVF has the highest success rate of any fertility treatment.
There are myriad reasons families turn to donor eggs to build their family. For heterosexual couples, the reason is usually due to poor egg quality or quantity, recurrent miscarriages, genetic mutations, or repeated IVF failure.
Read more in Seven Reasons Families Use Donor Eggs
How long does it take to get pregnant with donor eggs?
For someone who has spent a lot of time, effort, and money on failed IVF, you may be eager to move forward with donor eggs and have a baby ASAP. The good news is that the chances of success with donor eggs has more to do with the age of the donor than the age of the mother (or gestational carrier).
The time to match with a donor can be just days (we have hundreds of pre-qualified donors ready to match with your family). After that, a donor cycle with fresh eggs can take 60-90 days from match to completion of the cycle. Frozen eggs can be quicker, but it usually means you can’t meet the donor beforehand.
As you can see from the SART data above, the chances of getting pregnant per cycle is much higher with donor eggs and the gap increases with age of the patient.
Read Dr. Meera Shah’s article Donor Egg Success Rates: a Breakdown.
How many donor eggs do I need?
One 2015 study of 647 frozen donor eggs found that:
- 97.1% survived thawing
- 85.3% of the eggs fertilized
- 59.1% made it to blastocyst
- 84.2% of blastocysts were euploid (genetically normal)
So three donor eggs would yield a little over one genetically normal embryo on average while nine donor eggs would be expected to yield three to four euploid embryos on average. Keep in mind that this will vary depending on a lot of factors other than the egg, including the quality of the sperm and the quality of the clinic.
Another study found the average number of eggs retrieved from donors aged 25-29 was 18 eggs, and for ages 30-35 was 16 eggs.
At Cofertility, the average number of mature eggs a family receives and fertilizes is 10. Some intended parents want to do two egg retrievals with the donor which is definitely possible. We also ask each of our donors whether they are open to a second cycle as part of the initial application — many report that they are!
You can see how many eggs are retrieved in the first cycle and go from there. If, for any reason, the eggs retrieved in that round do not lead to a live birth, our baby guarantee will kick in and we’ll re-match you at no additional Cofertility coordination fee.
Does donor egg IVF work for the first time?
IVF cycles using donor eggs certainly have a higher success rate than using a patient’s own eggs, especially for patients who have had failed cycles or recurrent miscarriages. So while for many families, donor eggs work the first time, for others it does not work on the first try.
Why do donor egg cycles fail?
It can be very frustrating when a donor egg cycle fails, either due to fertilization, implantation failure, chemical pregnancy, or miscarriage. And unfortunately, most of the time, it’s hard to know exactly why.
We know that sperm plays a huge role in fertilization and embryo quality, but there’s so much we still don’t know about sperm. Even sperm that passes sperm quality and fragmentation tests with flying colors can be the cause of poor fertilization or even miscarriage.
There could also be implantation failure or miscarriage due to uterine lining issues, endometrial receptivity, or immunological factors. We still don't completely understand implantation, and unfortunately many patients never find out why they miscarried a genetically normal embryo.
Failure could also be due to the quality of the clinic you are working with. We know that IVF success rates vary from clinic to clinic. You can find the success rates of your clinic on the CDC’s SART website – however, keep in mind that some clinics have better success rates because they turn away patients with low chance of success, and other clinics have worse success rates because they work with anyone.
And sometimes, a donor egg cycle can fail simply due to bad luck. Even with improved chances of success with a transfer of a euploid embryo from donor eggs, pregnancy is not a 100% guarantee.
Cofertility’s Baby Guarantee
When you decide to build your family with donor eggs, you’re forced to contend with a lot of unknowns. You may be asking yourself questions like, “what if she doesn’t pass her screening,” or “what if the cycle doesn’t yield any healthy embryos?”
These concerns are compounded by the fact that any fertility treatment comes with a hefty price tag. We know that IVF and egg donation are huge expenses for families because we’ve been there. While we can’t promise perfection, we have devised the most parent-friendly guarantee on the market. We hope this brings you peace of mind and shows you how committed we are to helping you build your family.
Read more about our Baby Guarantee.
Meera Shah, MD, FACOG, is a double board-certified OBGYN and reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialist at NOVA IVF in Mountain View, California. She is a Founding Medical Advisor at Cofertility. Dr. Shah has authored numerous research articles on topics ranging from fertility preservation, pregnancy loss, reproductive genetics, and ethnic differences in IVF outcomes. Her medical practice incorporates the highest level of evidence-based medicine and the most cutting edge technologies to optimize outcomes for her patients. Dr. Shah applies this approach to her work with Cofertility, ensuring that Cofertility remains up-to-date on latest medical advancements and research in third-party reproduction and reproductive endocrinology in general. When Dr. Shah isn’t busy working with her patients at NOVA IVF, she enjoys playing pretty much any sport, learning new piano pieces on YouTube, and spending quality time with her husband and three boys. You can find her on Instagram providing fertility-related advice and education at @dr_meerashah.
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