Embryo donation and egg donation are two distinct infertility treatment options, with advantages and disadvantages. These two options are often confused, so here is our brief explanation.
Egg donation is the process in which human eggs are retrieved from a carefully selected egg donor, and then fertilized with either partner or donor sperm. The resulting embryos are then implanted into the recipient’s uterus. In most cases, multiple eggs are retrieved from a donor, and multiple embryos are produced. At most two embryos will, however, be transferred in the initial cycle because we want a twin pregnancy at most. Extra embryos are frozen, and are the property of the recipient for future use.
The success of egg donation varies depending on diagnosis, age and other characteristics of the woman receiving the donated eggs. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) quotes success rate upward of 50 percent. Assuming no complicating factors that can negatively affect pregnancy rates (like addition of sex selection), pregnancy chances at CHR can be expected to be around 60 percent with transfer of two embryos with egg donation.
Embryo donation uses already frozen embryos from infertile couples, who donated their leftover embryos from their own infertility treatment cycles, after having completed their own families. These embryos, therefore, are frozen, which decreases chances of pregnancy. That embryos usually come from couples with infertility issues further lowers pregnancy chances. Pregnancy chances form donor embryos are, therefore, much lower than with donor eggs.
According to the SART, pregnancy success rates with embryo donations are around 16-20 percent. Rates at CHR may be marginally higher.
Cost per embryo donation cycle is significantly lower than cost for one egg donation cycle. This may, however, be the wrong way to look at the cost issue: at the end of the day, real cost of any fertility treatment should be defined by cost per health baby at home. Since egg donation has so much higher pregnancy rates, looking at costs in such a way, egg donation may be the more cost-effective treatment of the two.