- Age and Fertility
- CDC Report on Fertility Clinic IVF Success Rates
- Chromosomal Abnormalities in Eggs
- Donor Eggs
- Egg Banking
- Egg Donation
- Egg Donation Cost
- Egg Freezing
- Egg quality
- Embryo freezing
- Embryo implantation
- Fertility Preservation
- Frozen embryo transfer
- IVF Clinic Success Rates
- IVF Cost
- IVF Poor Responders
- IVF success rates
- Low ovarian reserve
- Micro IVF
- Mild IVF
- Mini IVF
- Minimal Stimulation IVF
- Number of IVF Embryos to Transfer
- Oocyte Cryopreservation
- Ovarian Reserve
- Ovarian Reserve Tests
- Preimplantation Genetic Screening
- Single Embryo Transfer
Fertility, IVF and Egg Donation
Egg freezing has been used in reproductive medicine for many years for fertility preservation as well as for banking of donor eggs. In the last several years egg freezing technology has improved significantly. Therefore, in the fall of 2012 the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) removed the “experimental” designation for egg freezing.
Embryo freezing has been utilized very effectively since the 1980s and live birth success rates in some IVF programs (including ours) with frozen embryos at the blastocyst stage are as good or even better than the success rates seen in the same IVF clinics using fresh embryos. However, eggs are more difficult to efficiently freeze and thaw without damaging the cell.
Eggs are frozen using either “slow freeze” technology or vitrification which is ultra-rapid freezing. We believe that egg vitrification is superior and are using it successfully at the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.
The first baby from in vitro fertilization using fresh eggs was born in 1978. Not long after that egg donation was being done. Since then millions of babies have been born after IVF and many studies have been done to see whether there are increases in birth defects or other problems in the children.
Thousands of children have been born following thawing of frozen eggs. Thus far the results are reassuring regarding the health and well-being of children born using frozen eggs. Although there are not large numbers of children in the studies there does not seem to be an increased risk to the children for birth defects or other problems for babies from frozen eggs as compared to babies born after IVF with fresh eggs.
Egg banking done for egg donation is becoming more common. Egg donation success rates are higher when using fresh eggs as compared to frozen eggs but there are some potential advantages to using frozen donor eggs:
- With frozen eggs there is a lower cost per cycle (per attempt)
- With frozen eggs there is likely to be less waiting for a donor to be ready
- With frozen eggs there is more certainty regarding the number of eggs that will be available to use
- For example, problems with the donor’s ovarian stimulation process have already been dealt with when using frozen donor eggs
I believe that over time we will see a gradual shift towards doing more frozen donor egg cycles. Many factors will influence the rate of change including:
- The success rates with frozen donor eggs that will eventually be reported on a per clinic basis through the SART and CDC IVF success rate reports
- Availability of frozen donor eggs and availability of donors for fresh cycles
- Perceptions and preferences of couples needing egg donation about issues with fresh and frozen donor egg cycles
- Cost issues
At the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago we have been doing egg donation with fresh eggs for 17 years and now have frozen donor eggs available as well.
Egg donation has been utilized to help infertile couples since the early 1980s. Donor egg IVF utilization has continued increasing as more couples delay childbearing until their late 30s and 40s. In the United States in 2009 there were over 15,000 cycles using fresh donor eggs reported to SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies) from their member clinics. Links to the SART and CDC IVF and donor egg success rate reports
Until the last few years all donor eggs cycles were done with fresh eggs retrieved and fertilized the same day with the male partner’s sperm. Over the years egg donation using fresh eggs has become highly successful at some fertility clinics in the US.
Live birth rates with fresh donor eggs are over 70% per fresh transfer procedure at the best egg donation clinics. Success rates at these same donor egg programs using fresh eggs are over 50% for live birth per transfer using a single embryo for transfer. This approach almost totally eliminates the risk for multiple pregnancy.
In recent years the techniques for freezing and thawing eggs have advanced significantly. As a result of these advances, success rates at some frozen donor egg banks has increased from about 10% success in the past to approximately 50% – at least this is what they claim.
Accordingly, business models have developed for frozen donor egg banks. Egg banks sell frozen donor eggs on a per batch or per egg basis. This can make the cost of using frozen eggs seem to be less than the cost of egg donation with fresh eggs. However, there are some significant problems with this approach.
- Uncertain and relatively low success rates – with low success rates the cost per baby is actually higher
- Uncertainty about long-term health issues for the children born from frozen eggs
What are the issues with freezing eggs to preserve fertility?
Can you freeze eggs in an attempt to preserve fertility for a future pregnancy?
- Yes, egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is being done – some women freeze eggs to try to reduce the impact of aging on fertility
- Success rates for IVF with fresh eggs are high in young women
- Success rates for IVF using frozen eggs are generally much lower – but are improving. This technology is rapidly evolving.
There is currently controversy about:
- Who should be offered egg freezing?
- What should women of different ages be told about their chances for having a baby with frozen eggs?
- Are women who freeze eggs well informed about the chances to have a baby in the future with their frozen eggs?
What do recent studies show regarding pregnancy success rates using frozen eggs?
Egg freezing is relatively new
- IVF with fresh eggs has reportedly resulted in the birth of about 3 million babies worldwide
- IVF with frozen eggs has resulted in the birth of about 2000 babies worldwide
- Studies continue to investigate whether the older “slow freezing” technology or the newer method of “vitrifying” eggs will be better
- Studies from the 1990’s to early 2000’s showed pregnancy success rates with frozen eggs of about 2% to 10% (live birth rate per embryo transfer cycle).
- A recent study from an Italian group found similar fertilization and embryo development rates of vitrified versus fresh eggs. Vitrification is a relatively new freezing method.
- This study involved 40 cycles in women (average age 35.5)
- The ongoing pregnancy rate (beyond 12 weeks of pregnancy) with vitrified eggs was 30% per cycle.
- This is a good rate since only 3 eggs can be inseminated under Italian law.
- Study by L Rienzi, et al, Human Reproduction; January 2010
- A 2009 study of 23 IVF cycles using frozen eggs (average age 31.5)
- There were 14 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage and 13 ongoing pregnancies (57% per transfer)
- Study by J Grifo and N Noyes, Fertility and Sterility; May 2009
- There were 14 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage and 13 ongoing pregnancies (57% per transfer)
- A large multicenter Italian study compared IVF using fresh vs. frozen eggs
- Italian IVF clinics tend to have lower success rates because only 3 eggs can be inseminated per cycle (by law)
- They compared 2209 cycles with fresh eggs to 940 cycles with frozen eggs
- The success rate was halved using frozen instead of fresh eggs
- 748 thawing cycles in women less than 39 years old (average age 33.6)
- Live birth rate per transfer with frozen eggs was 13.3% (age < 39)
- 192 thawing cycles in women 39 and older (average age 40.5)
- Live birth rate per transfer with frozen eggs was 8.1% (age 39+)
- Study by A Borini et al, Fertility and Sterility; January 2010
Welcome to the
Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago Blog
Richard Sherbahn, MD is a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist.
Dr. Sherbahn founded the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago in 1997.
He will post regularly about fertility issues.
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- 2013 SART IVF Success Rate Report Released
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- Using Frozen Eggs for Egg Donation
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- SART Releases 2011 IVF Success Rate Report with Outcome Results for All IVF Clinics
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- Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- Center for Disease Control, CDC
- Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, SART
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