I’ve heard frozen eggs can only be stored for ten years in some places. What’s up with that? Is there a limit to how long I can keep my eggs frozen?
Dr. Klein says:
Good question. In the UK, there is currently a ten-year limit on how long eggs can stay frozen. If you’ve heard about it, it’s probably because doctors, patients, and healthcare advocates are working to get that arbitrary limit changed.
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Scientifically speaking, frozen eggs have no “expiration date.” Cryopreservation involves rapidly cooling the eggs down to -196ºC, a temperature at which all biological activity, including aging, stops. So, once frozen, the health and viability of those eggs doesn’t change over time.
There have been numerous healthy babies born from eggs frozen for 10 years, with the longest successful thaw coming after 14 years. Embryos have been frozen for even longer—in 2017, a woman gave birth to a baby from an adopted embryo that was frozen 24 years earlier. Thankfully, in the US, there’s currently no legal limit on how long eggs or embryos can be stored.
The reason that advocates in the UK are taking on the ten-year limit is because it actually penalizes women who are making the smart choice to freeze eggs earlier in life. Many studies have shown that egg freezing is significantly more effective and efficient if done before age 35; younger is better in terms of egg health and how many eggs you’ll be able to freeze in one cycle. But in the UK, a woman who freezes in her late 20s or early 30s may be facing the disposal of her eggs before they become useful to her.
Here, that’s not the case, so women shouldn’t be afraid to freeze their eggs as early as they feel ready.