Around 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the United States suffer from infertility. This can be due to a problem with the woman not producing enough viable eggs or the man not producing enough viable sperm. When the problem is due to a woman not being able to produce viable eggs, one potential solution is to use donor eggs. Donor eggs are sometimes also used when there's an increased risk of genetic diseases if a woman's own eggs are used. Once this is decided upon as the course of action, the woman must decide whether to use fresh or frozen donor eggs.

Donor Considerations

Egg donors are between 21 and 35 years old and have been tested for medical conditions, sexually transmitted diseases, and being a carrier for a number of genetic diseases. They have to provide a complete medical history, including any family history of major health problems or mental health issues. There is usually a wider range of donors to choose from with frozen eggs than with fresh eggs.

Live Birth Rate

Of the approximately 11,148 IVF cycles performed in the U.S. in 2013, 80 percent of the women chose to use fresh donor eggs. The main advantage to this is that fresh eggs are slightly more than 19 percent more likely to lead to a live birth than donor eggs, with a live birth rate of just over 56 percent. 

IVF Cost

The main benefit of using frozen eggs from a previous egg donation is the reduction in cost. An IVF cycle using frozen donor eggs typically costs between $15,000 and $17,000, which is about half of the cost of using fresh donor eggs.

Timing Considerations

The other potential benefit of using a frozen egg donation is that the timing of the IVF cycle is much more flexible. Frozen eggs can be used almost any time a woman is ready, while people who want to use fresh eggs may have to wait as much as a year just to find a donor and then the women will need to have their cycles synchronized so the recipient's body is ready to receive the embryo as soon as it's ready.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that IVF itself involves a 20 to 25 percent chance of having multiple children, a 3 to 5 percent chance of birth defects, and a 15 to 20 percent chance of miscarriage. The more embryos that are implanted, the greater the chance of carrying a baby to term but also the greater the chance of having multiples. It's sometimes recommended that if a woman is under 35 and the embryo quality is good, she should try just a single embryo for her first IVF cycle. Having a failed IVF cycle and being older than 35 may indicate better results would be achieved by using more than one embryo.

Talk with a local clinic for more information about egg donation.