Donor egg IVF success rates

Last Updated on March 9, 2020

In a conventional IVF, a woman takes fertility medications to stimulate egg production in her own ovaries. However, there are times when donor egg IVF is recommended or required. Knowing how you can maximize the  donor egg IVF success rates and minimize risks during your pregnancy can save you stress and money.

Eggs or embryos, fresh or frozen?

A donor IVF comes in a few forms:

  • Fresh donor egg, fertilized, and transferred
  • Frozen donor egg, thawed, fertilized, and transferred
  • Frozen donor embryos thawed, and transferred
  • Fresh donor embryo, transferred

According to the latest reports by The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fresh donor eggs provide the best live births rate, which is the most important IVF outcome indicator.

Since SART calculates live births based on cycles (including cancelled cycles), it is lower than the rate given by CDC, which bases its calculations on the number of transfers. Nevertheless, the odds of success with fresh donor eggs is roughly 50-50. This means that half of the time, a fresh donor egg recipient can end up with a baby in her arms in 40 weeks.

Fresh donor eggs Frozen donor eggs Frozen donor embryos Fresh donor embryos
Live births rate per cycles 48.9% 39.3% 42.4% 40.4%
Implantation rate per cycles 54.8% 45.7% 47.0% 39.1%
Term delivery per live births 74.7% 75.5% 77.4% 75.4%

*SART 2017. A cycle is counted if an egg retrieval is performed or if the cycle is cancelled before the egg retrieval.

Fresh donor eggs Frozen donor eggs Frozen donor embryos Fresh donor embryos
Live births rate per transfers 54.6% 44.9% 44.8% 42.7%
Pregnancy rate per transfers 65.0% 54.7% 55.8% 53.1%
Implantation rate per transfers 53.9% 41.9% 46.1% 38.4%
% term, normal weight and singleton live births per transfers 32.5% 28.1% 29.4% 26.8%

*CDC 2016. A transfer is counted, but a cancelled cycle is not.

Despite differences in the ways of calculating success rates, SART and CDC’s datasets indicate fresh donor eggs being the best option, followed by frozen donor embryos.

Donor or non-donor IVF?

According to the 2016 National Summary Report on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) by CDC, donor eggs resulted in significantly more pregnancies, live births and single-infant live births as compared to frozen non-donor eggs.

This reflects the benefits of using donor eggs in couples that have difficulties conceiving due to:

  • Damaged ovaries post-cancer treatment
  • Congenital anomaly with ovaries
  • Repeated IVF failure
  • Low ovarian reserves
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency/ failure
  • Advanced maternal age, and thus poor egg quality
  • Genetic disease risk with the female
  • Gay couple having a child with a surrogate

However, it is important to note that this comparison is not carried out in the same patients using both donor and non-donor eggs. Thus, the benefits of non-donor eggs may apply to the patient groups listed above but not others that have more mild infertility problems.

Does recipient, donor, and partner age matter?

You probably know that age is one of the most important factors in fertility and infertility. Whose age is important when it comes to donor IVF? Recipient, donor, partner or all of them?

A large population study published on the Journal of Human Reproduction concluded that the donor’s age has the largest impact on pregnancy and live birth rates following fresh egg recipient cycles. Choosing a donor aged <35 years would increase the chance of pregnancy and live delivery for older recipients. In contrast, donor aged >35 results in significantly lower pregnancy and live birth rates.

This is because egg quality diminishes drastically after the age of 35, making it less likely to have a genetically healthy embryo that will implant and result in an ongoing pregnancy.

If you and your partner are approaching or in your 40s, you may be relieved to hear that older recipients/partners with younger donors do not have a poorer pregnancy outcome. Having said that, you may be at increased risks for certain pregnancy complications.

Age Pregnancy rate Live birth rate
Recipient’s age (years) <35 34.3% 25.6%
35-39 33.7% 25.4%
40-44 33.7% 25.6%
≥45 36.2% 25.8%
Donor’s age (years) <30 35.4% 27.4%
30-34 37.3% 28.1%
35-39 32.2% 23.4%
≥40 22.7% 13.5%
Partner’s age (years) <35 36.2% 28.6%
35-39 35.7% 26.4%
40-44 34.3% 24.8%
≥45 32.7% 24.7%

* Want et al., 2012, using 3889 fresh donor egg cycles.

How improve donor egg IVF success rates

  1. Choose fresh donor eggs as opposed to frozen donor eggs, fresh and frozen donor embryos.
  2. Use eggs from younger donors(<30 best). You may also want to check that the donor is all cleared from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and genetic diseases.
  3. Perform HLA-typing of donor and recipient in order to select the most compatible donor.

In an organ transport, different immune makeups of different people can result in an organ transplant rejection. It is a similar case when carrying a baby, except that in a natural pregnancy, the mother’s body has mechanisms that prevent maternal immune response against the fetus. However, things are more complicated for with an embryo from donor IVF, who carries foreign genetics from two strangers.

A systematic review revealed that donor IVF pregnancies put the mother at increased risk of:

  • Maternal morbidity
  • regnancy-induced hypertension (eg. Preeclampsia)
  • Placental pathology
  • Caesarean section deliveries
  • Post-partum haemorrhage
  • First trimester vaginal bleeding

Therefore, it is worthwhile to perform HLA-typing to find your best match.

  1. Check that your endometrial thickness > 8mm

A thick endometrium (uterine lining) is critical to support an embryo’s growth, which can be determined with an ultrasound in your IVF clinic. It has been shown that a thickness <8 mm was associated with a significantly lower probability of pregnancy.

  1. Keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) <30

Your weight makes a huge difference to your likelihood to suffer a range of pregnancy complications. Obesity (as defined internationally by a BMI > 30) has been associated with lower pregnancy rates.  Thus, implementing lifestyle changes that decrease your BMI to under 30 can benefit your donor IVF pregnancy.

  1. Avoid the use of GnRH agonists

Lastly, GnRH agonists are used in cycling women to favour donor-recipient synchronization at the moment of donation. But the use of GnRH agonists could negatively impact your pregnancy rates. Therefore, you might want to check with your fertility specialist whether you are prescribed with GnRH agonists.

Donor Egg IVF Success Rates by Clinic

*The following IVF success rate reports are base on the latest CDC data published in May 2020 (Final 2018 Data) with 20 or more transfers.

Fresh Donor Egg IVF Success Rates Using Fresh Embryos, Fresh egg

Clinic Name Fresh Egg Live Births Fresh Egg Singleton Live Births Fresh Egg Total Transfers
Sum 382
Avg = 69.0 Avg = 59.8 Avg = 38.2

Fresh Donor Egg IVF Success Rates Using Fresh Embryos, Frozen egg

Clinic Name Frozen egg Live Births Frozen egg Singleton Live Births Frozen egg Total Transfers
Sum 659
Avg = 57.8 Avg = 53.5 Avg = 65.9

Frozen Donor Egg IVF Success Rates Using Frozen Embryo

Clinic Name Frozen Embryo Live Births Frozen Embryo Singleton Live Births Number of transfers
Sum 1,057
Avg = 71.7 Avg = 62.0 Avg = 105.7

Donor Egg IVF Success Rates Using Donated embryo

Clinic Name Donated Embryo Live Births Donated Embryo Singleton Live Births Number of transfers
Sum 439
Avg = 58.7 Avg = 47.2 Avg = 43.9