More than 70 percent of women older than 45 who try assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) use donor eggs to try to conceive a child. Over 8,000 babies are born in the United States each year to women of all ages as a result of egg donation and ART. And with advances in egg-freezing technology, using donor eggs for fertility treatment is likely to become even easier.
Egg donation agencies and egg banks are now found throughout the United States. At an egg bank, donor eggs are collected and frozen for purchase, similar to the way a sperm bank operates. Some fertility clinics have even started their own egg banks.
But many clinics still provide ART treatments using “fresh” (nonfrozen) donor eggs, which means the reproductive cycles of both donor and recipient are synced, and eggs are produced and used right away.
Donor embryos – which are always frozen – can also be used with ART. Many fertility clinics and embryo-matching agencies have programs that offer frozen embryos donated by couples who have a surplus after completing ART treatment.
Embryo donation as a family-building option isn’t as common as egg donation so many people don’t know about it, but awareness is growing through federal promotional campaigns and the efforts of infertility advocacy groups such as Resolve, the National Infertility Association.