Donor egg/donor sperm cycles are fertility treatments that involve using donated eggs or sperm to help a patient or couple who are unable to conceive using their own eggs/sperm.
In a donor egg cycle, a donor is put through the IVF stimulation process to retrieve her eggs, which are then either frozen to be inseminated at a later time, or inseminated after retrieval to make fresh embryos. After fertilization of the donated eggs with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor, the resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus of the intended mother or gestational carrier in a fresh or frozen transfer.
There are many reasons why a woman or couple might choose to use donor eggs. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Age: As women get older, their eggs are poorer quality and their chances of conceiving with those eggs decrease. Donor eggs can help older women or those who have premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) to get pregnant.
- Genetic disorders: Some women or couples may choose to use donor eggs if they have a genetic condition that they do not want to pass on to their children, such as mitochondrial disorders.
- Infertility: Some women or couples may choose to use donor eggs if they have failed other fertility treatments.
There are many reasons why a woman or couple may choose to use donor sperm:
- Male factor infertility: Men with severely low sperm counts/no sperm may need to use donor sperm to conceive.
- Same-sex female couples: Female partners use donor sperm to conceive, either through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF cycles.
- Single mothers: Those that wish to build a family without a male partner use donor sperm in an IUI or IVF cycle.
- Treatment failure: Patients or couples may be recommended donor sperm if other treatments have failed.
Success rates for donor egg cycles depend on the type of donor eggs used. If frozen eggs are purchased from an egg bank, they usually come in a lot of 6 or 8. The overall success rate from one lot of donor eggs is about 50-60%. Many companies have a “blastocyst -guarantee” in which the intended parent(s) are guaranteed at least one blastocyst or they get another lot of eggs for free. The pregnancy rate for blastocyst transfer from donor eggs is 60-70%. If intended parents put an egg donor through a fresh stimulation cycle, they often have more eggs available to them, resulting in more embryos available for transfer. Fresh egg donor cycles have an overall success rate of 90-95%. However, fresh cycles are more expensive and take a longer period of time from cycle start to embryo transfer.
Success rates for donor sperm cycles depend on the indication, type of cycle (IUI vs IVF), and the age of the egg donor or female partner. IUI cycles have a lower success rate than IVF cycles but are also less invasive and costly. Success depends on the age of the patient providing the eggs for insemination. On average, IUI cycles have a 15-20% success rate and IVF cycles have a 50-60% success rate when using eggs less than 35 years old.
We would love to discuss donor egg and/or donor sperm cycles in more detail with you. Please contact us today if you are interested in learning more about your family building options.