Comparing fertility clinics and egg donation agencies: The 10 Essential Questions

For over 20 years CT Fertility has been achieving success rates that are among the highest in the world. Besides resulting in the births of over 5,000 babies, these years of experience have also allowed us to listen to thousands of clients about their needs and concerns, and to develop unique options and protocols to meet those needs. Medical talent, training and technology are not always enough to build the family of your dreams. At CT Fertility we guarantee that every family receives the most personal attention possible, a customized treatment plan to suit their goals and circumstances, and direct access to our top talent at all times

CT Fertility realizes that you have a choice when it comes to selecting the medical clinic or donor agency that will best assist you in finding your egg donor.  We hope that the following list of questions will allow you to make a more informed decision.

10 Questions To Ask a Potential Fertility Clinic / Donor Matching Agency:

  1. Is every aspect of your egg donors screening, matching and monitoring done personally by the clinic team, in their offices, or are any of these services outsourced across the county?

    CT Fertility works hard to avoid the “disconnects” that often arise when egg donors are recruited online and/or matched by outside agencies, then screened in outside clinics, receive their medications from other doctors who may or may not perform their monitoring, and finally arrive at their fertility clinic near the end of the process.

    For this reason, CT Fertility does everything on-site in their offices, from the beginning to the end. Nothing at all is outsourced. We believe that this enables us to really get to know your donor; to provide her with the utmost attention to quality control; to identify potential issues (big or small) and solve them before they become problems; and to offer you the assurance that goes along with that.

  2. Do the costs you quote include all donor screening tests, genetic counseling, medications, and monitoring (even if the donor is not local)? What costs are typically not quoted and end up extra?

    CT Fertility quotes every cost up front, openly and honestly. Clinics that outsource some or all of the egg donation related services often present “cheaper” costs because they are not performing or billing for so many of these essential elements. But when you add up all the bills you will eventually receive from each of these outside vendors, the total cost to you may be shocking. The uncertainty that this creates can be as stressful as the journey itself.

    CT Fertility has worked hard to develop transparent, full-disclosure cost sheets that enable you to plan accurately for all that lies ahead. There are never added on costs that are associated with other partnering clinics or agencies, medications, outside monitoring, travel/lodging or other associated laboratory fees. CT Fertility realizes that planning for your family is essential and that a key part of that is enabling you to understand up-front how all the finances work and what you can expect to encounter, to minimize surprises or unnecessary stress.

    The cost of donor matching at CT Fertility is $3,000, which is below the national average (some independent agencies charge as much as $7,500 or more).

  3. Do you provide the option to meet the egg donor, or do you require donor matches to remain anonymous?

    While most of CT Fertility’s donor will be willing to contract with prospective parents according to the conventional anonymous protocol, the clinic is unique in offering a large number of donors who are open to non-anonymous matching. CT Fertility strongly believes that non-anonymous matching offers numerous potential short- and long-term benefits. Specifically, knowing your donor can give you the confidence that you are making the right choice, as well as the later ability to track future medical issues that arise with her or her family. Known donations also help many families to best and most authentically explain to their children the realities of the journeys that led to them, engendering a psychological well-being and sense of “completeness” that can come from knowing as much as they can about their own origins. Over 90% of CT Fertility donors also feel that a non-anonymous match makes their donation more personally rewarding and are open to talking, Skyping or even meeting their potential matches. In any regard all of our parents are safeguarded by the Connecticut law that guarantees that all donors, known or anonymous, “shall not have any right or interest in any child born” through this process (Sec. 45a-775.). 

  4. Are the donors in your database exclusive, current and local? How many of them are repeat and proven donors?

    Every CT Fertility donor is an exclusive donor, available, and local. In contrast most independent egg donation agencies feature non-exclusive listings (sometimes a single donor is on 10 websites simultaneously) of donors they have never met, from all over the USA, many of them no longer available. At CT Fertility you will never be offered a donor who is committed elsewhere or who is not available at the time that you request her. Being local also means that they are responsible for all their own travel arrangements and that you will not face additional travel, lodging or food expenses that always accompany donors chosen from outside agencies.

    About 50% of CT Fertility donors have donated before. Whenever a donor is allowed to repeat a donation at CT Fertility, it is because her prior donation(s) resulted in a successful pregnancy and birth. CT Fertility never recycles unsuccessful donors and will always allow you to review the specific records of her previous donations, so that you can see how many eggs she has previously produced, how many fertilized, how many embryos resulted, whether a single or twin pregnancy resulted, and how many embryos were ultimately frozen for future use. Each of these factors can be essential for you to choose a donor who is most likely to achieve your immediate and long-term family-building goals. If an agency or clinic claims that a potential donor is proven or has a ”great” track record, you should insist that you want to see those records, and not accept that the details are unavailable for your review.

  5. What percentage of your egg donor applicants are accepted, and are all of the donors screening tests (medical, genetic, and psychological) completed prior to their inclusion in the donor database or offering them for a match?

    CT Fertility receives over 50 applications per week from potential egg donors and accepts roughly 1 in 25. Applicants will never be proposed to you unless they have already survived the rigorous screening of our medical, psychosocial, genetic, and legal requirements.

    Many other agencies or clinics claim that they have many donors from which to choose, but often these are profiles of women who have applied but have not yet been screened, which means that if you pick one of them it is very possible that months later the match may need to be broken due to unforeseen issues. CT Fertility does everything it can to prevent this sort of disappointment and waste of time, money and emotional energy.

  6. For egg donation cycles, do you guarantee a minimum number of eggs, or have back-up plans like a frozen egg donor egg bank or embryo donation program to avoid cycle cancellations?

    Given the tremendous investment of time, emotional energy, and finances that we know that you must make, one of the hardest scenarios to encounter is the unexpected cancellation of any aspect of your treatment, including an unexpectedly low response to medications on the part of you, your egg donor or your gestational carrier.

    You will completely avoid such pitfalls with CT Fertility since we guarantee the number of viable eggs you will receive in each of our egg donation and IVF programs. We are able to provide this guarantee because of our experience, the high quality of our carefully screened egg donors, and our advanced vitrification (freezing) technology and protocols that allow us to use the Donor Egg Bank to supplement any shortfall in the number of eggs you receive from your designated egg donor … all at no additional cost.  Even if you are using a family member or friend as a donor, or have chosen a donor through another approved donor agency, our Egg Bank provides a flexible back-up option that you can access for a fee on the day of the retrieval. An additional backup option we offer is our embryo donation program which provides access to embryos that other people have chosen to donate after their own family building journeys have been completed successfully.

  7. What is your average wait time to match to an egg donor?

    In almost every instance, donor matches at CT Fertility are immediate, with absolutely no waiting, often within a few days of starting the selection process.  This is the result of extensive donor recruitment efforts that provide constant access to the top donors in the region, and the availability of our Frozen Donor Egg Bank. If your needs or requirements for your egg donor are highly specific (such as a unique ancestry, Ivy League background, or particular “look” or skill) CT Fertility can easily accommodate that through focused recruiting, but this may add a few more weeks to the process.

  8. How long have you been in business, and how many families have you helped create, including families like ours?

    CT Fertility was founded in 1991, which makes it one of the oldest and most established fertility clinics in the US. The CT Fertility staff has helped over 5,000 families, including over 400 LGBT families and international families from over 25 countries. We have worked with hundreds of highly screened egg donors and gestational carriers who regularly return to the clinic for repeat family-building journeys.

  9. How many staff members do you have… and who will be primarily and consistently in touch with us during the process?

    CT Fertility’s staff consists of over thirty highly trained professionals led by Dr. Michael Doyle, a fellowship-trained Reproductive Endocrinologist and leader in his field. At CT Fertility you will never be seen by any other doctor, including a medical student or resident in training. Dr. Doyle will always personally oversee and manage every medical decision and choice that you make from the beginning to the end of your experience, and he is committed to remaining available to you on a daily basis for consultation, e-mail and Skype.
    Other members of the CT Fertility team include a Ph.D. Laboratory Director and other embryologists and technicians with extensive experience in advanced IVF/ICSI, embryo culture and freezing, egg freezing, embryo biopsy for PGD; four skilled fertility nurses; a genetic counselor; four financial support people; a surrogacy coordinator; two egg donor coordinators; a social worker; and numerous other patient care advocates who will support you through the process. While you may interface with each of these people at some time, you will also be assigned a primary nurse or IVF coordinator who will personally handle your process and guide you through every step of your journey.

  10. Are advanced IVF laboratory services like vitrification and embryo biopsy for PGD routinely performed on-site by the clinic’s embryologists, and does the clinic support the use of PGD for gender selection?

    All eggs and embryos that are frozen at CT Fertility are frozen with rapid- freeze “vitrification” protocols and techniques which result in over 98% embryo post-thaw survival, which is far superior to the rates seen with the “old school” slower freeze techniques that are still used in many other clinics and have much lower success rates associated with them. How you freeze your embryos may not seem like an essential decision at the beginning of your journey, but it is because most of our intended parents return in the future to create siblings and in those instances, having high-grade viable embryos to use creates for a far more efficient and cost-effective process. Having to start over with new fresh embryos is associated with much greater expense, and usually the original egg donor that you used is no longer available.
    Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS), which is an advanced form of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), is another option available to you at CT Fertility and can be used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities as well as to determine the gender of your embryos.  We would be happy to speak to you about the benefits and limitations of this testing process. If you are interested in PGD, be sure to ask about your prospective clinic’s experience and skill with embryo biopsy.