"How do you like your eggs?" is usually a question I am asked at my neighborhood Denny's by a waitress names Wanda. It's not the sort of question I expect to hear from my doctor. But then again, this isn't just any doctor. This is Dr. Hal Danzer, one of the leading fertility experts in the country at the Southern California Reproductive Center.
Hal and I have been hanging out together for the last three years (you get to call your doctor by his first name after the two of you have shared multiple ultrasounds). No man has worked harder to get me pregnant -- except perhaps my fiancé. But despite Dr. Danzer's expertise, there are no guarantees. There are also no refunds if I had another failed round of IVF. We had tried countless of time to put all of my eggs in my one basket... but it just wasn't working. Too old. Too cracked. (I'm referring to me, not Hal). So, it was time to seriously consider using someone else's eggs -- and preferably someone much younger.
Now, there are two ways you can order donor eggs: fresh or frozen. "Fresh" means you begin hunting for eggs at an Egg Donor Agency. Believe it or not, there is a long list of them across the country with fancy names like, "Extraordinary Conceptions" and "Donor Concierge." There are even agencies that specialize in certain kinds of eggs, like just Jewish ones or Asian ones. These agencies each have databases of women willing to donate. With some agencies, you pick your donor... others will choose for you.
Once you've met you match... the young woman will soon begin a round of in-vitro fertilization. You will pay for all her drugs, and for the entire IVF procedure. Keep in mind... you've also already paid her thousands of dollars just for the eggs, and the agency also gets their cut. After her eggs are 'harvested' (yes, that's what they call it... and, when you think about it, I guess that's better than calling it 'laid') the fertility clinic will fertilize her eggs and watch them grow for a few days. Then the best one or two (or eight, if you are Octomon) gets inserted inside of you. That part is referred to as the Embryo Transfer (I call it the turkey-baster procedure). When it's all said and done, you've spent at least $30,000.
Now, to the frozen egg option. There are probably fewer than ten recognized, commercially viable donor Frozen Eggs Banks in the country. They too, have databases, complete with profiles and pictures of your potential egg baby-mama. By the time you take a look at her, she's already undergone extensive genetic screenings. She's completed her IVF procedure... her eggs have been plucked and they are now comfortably resting in a state of deep freeze.
Here are some other stone-cold facts about selecting a frozen egg donor as opposed to a fresh one. You don't have to wait to be matched. Matching happens as soon as you make your selection. You don't have to worry about how many mature eggs the donor will produce. You already know exactly how many you are buying from the bank (usually, it's a half dozen). And, you don't have to sync your cycle with the donor's cycle (all your doctor has to do is essentially defrost them when you are ready).
Also, did I mention frozen eggs are half the cost, and according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, just as effective? That's right. The latest studies show pregnancy rates using fresh eggs at 60% . And for frozen eggs... a very comparable 57%. Also, there are fewer cancellations. Only 1% of frozen transfers were cancelled... compared to 12% of fresh egg cycles that were cancelled for one reason or another.
So what was a woman in my position going to do? I decided just to sit back, sip on an icy cold beverage and choose the option that was like the dinner I was preparing to eat... cheap, fast and frozen.