To freeze eggs or embryos?

If you already know who the biological father of your child(ren) will be or are planning on using a sperm donor for your frozen eggs, it’s worth considering freezing embryos instead of eggs. However, there are also compelling reasons to only freeze eggs instead of embryos. We’ve made both treatments more affordable through Ovally and have listed compelling reasons for either option below so you can make a more informed decision together with your doctor:

Why some decide to freeze embryos instead of eggs: 

  1. Embryos tend to survive freezing slightly better than eggs: Labs report that between 90-99% of embryos typically survive freezing and thawing compared to about 80-95% of eggs (these rates can be higher or lower depending on your clinic’s lab).
  2. Embryos provide better predictability of later IVF success than eggs: Embryos have already survived fertilization and the first few days of development, giving you a better idea of your chances that they’ll lead to a live birth than frozen eggs (e.g., you may have retrieved 10 eggs, 8 of which are fully mature, 6 become fertilized embryos, and only 3 of those grow to be blastocysts). It’s hard to know how good the quality of an egg is until it’s been successfully fertilized and become a blastocyst. The likelihood that a frozen embryo results in a live birth has been shown to be as high as that of a live embryo, so freezing embryos does not decrease your chances of successful IVF should it be necessary later on.
  3. Embryos can take advantage of higher-quality, younger sperm: If you already know for sure who your potential offspring’s father will be, you might want to take advantage of the better quality of younger sperm, which also declines with age.
  4. Embryos allow for early genetic screening : If you’re concerned about serious inheritable genetic disorders, embryos can be screened before freezing, and you’ll know the number of viable embryos that could lead to a healthy baby.

Practically speaking, the biological father’s contribution to freezing embryos is pretty straightforward: He will have to complete some blood tests and a spermogram to make sure there are no red flags. On the same days that the eggs are retrieved, he’ll provide a sperm sample that will then be used to fertilize the eggs.

Why some freeze eggs instead of embryos:

  1. Freezing embryos is risky unless you’re absolutely certain who the biological father would be or know you’re definitely going to use a sperm donor: If one party no longer wanted to use the embryos, they couldn’t be used by either party. The legalities can get very complex here and differ by country.
  2. Freezing embryos instead of eggs is significantly more expensive: Since freezing embryos includes fertilization, embryo development in the lab, and genetic testing (if you choose to add that testing), there’s a significantly higher upfront cost for freezing embryos instead of eggs.
  3. Some people feel very differently about the ethics of freezing fertilized embryos instead of eggs and may not be comfortable potentially donating or disposing of embryos if they are not used.

The decision to freeze eggs or embryos is very personal and affected by many different factors. We hope the above can be helpful in a discussion with your doctor who’ll ultimately help you make that decision.





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