What Is The Difference Between Using Fresh And Frozen Eggs?

There are many misconceptions around egg donation and IVF treatment. Unfortunately, too many mothers-to-be are discouraged by half truths and misleading wive’s tales. You want to give yourself the best chance of falling pregnant, which is why you’re probably searching Google for things like “What is the difference between using fresh and frozen eggs?” In this article we’re discussing the timing of IVF, when fresh eggs are used over frozen eggs, and how the egg freezing process (call vitrification) actually works:

IVF success is all about timing

The beauty of creating a human life is that it’s largely about timing. Getting this just right is vital to the success of any IVF treatment. This involves, among other things, synchronising the menstrual cycles of both the egg donor and the intended parent. Another aspect of the timing it takes to complete a successful IVF treatment is around when the eggs are fertilized, which doesn’t always happen immediately after the eggs are harvested.

When ‘fresh’ eggs are used

Using ‘fresh’ eggs implies fertilizing them within hours of their retrieval. These fertilized eggs are then cultured in a lab for 5 days until the blastocyst embryo state is reached. They are then either transferred to the intended parent’s womb, or frozen until the intended parent is ready for their embryo transfer.

When frozen eggs are used

Instead of being frozen at the blastocyst embryo state, eggs that have been retrieved are frozen within hours of being harvested through cryopreservation. As soon as the intended parent is ready for embryo transfer, the eggs are thawed, fertilized and cultured to blastocyst embryo state.

How does the egg freezing process work?

Harvested eggs are frozen using a process called vitrification. This fascinating process involves sinking the eggs into liquid nitrogen, instantly freezing and vitrifying them (they become glass-like). This rapid freezing process is important to avoid the formation of ice crystals within the egg. The formation of ice crystals will damage the egg and render it unfit for use in IVF.

3 benefits of using frozen donor eggs

  • There is no waiting period because eggs are frozen and ready for immediate selection. This means that recipients can start immediately with their next menstrual cycle. There is no synchronization required.

  • All egg bank eggs come from fully-screened donors who have already completed their donation. This means that the usual risks, like donors failing their screening, medication being faulty or not administered correctly, or insufficient eggs being produced are no longer concerns.

  • Frozen donor egg cycles are usually more cost effective as intended parents can purchase only the number of eggs they require, rather than have excess donor eggs which are never used.

South Africa’s leading egg donor program

Globally, the vast majority of IVF treatments are likely to depend on eggs sourced from an egg bank. This implies that most eggs used are actually frozen eggs. The biggest differences between using frozen eggs and ‘fresh’ eggs is that relying on frozen eggs gives an intended parent more time to prepare their body for pregnancy. If you’d like to speak about becoming an egg donor or sourcing eggs from our egg bank, contact Nurture Egg Donor Program today.

Read our intended parent stories.

Read our egg donor stories.

Explore our list of frequently asked questions.


Tertia Albertyn is the founder of Nurture - South Africa’s longest-running and most successful Egg Donation Program. An accomplished speaker and an award-winning published author, as well as an ex-infertility patient herself, she is highly regarded in South Africa and internationally for the work she does in infertility. Tertia was instrumental in establishing the first FDA-approved frozen donor egg bank in Africa. Tertia has an MBA from the University of Cape Town and lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her husband and three children.