How long can human eggs be stored for and how much does it cost?

Report by Nitya Rajan

Campaigners are calling for change to the laws which control the amount of time women's eggs can be stored, before being destroyed.

Currently women have to pay around £8,000 to have their eggs frozen for ten years, as decided by law more than 31 years ago.

Human eggs can be frozen on the NHS, but only for medical reasons.

The number of women freezing their eggs has soared by 257% since 2012.

So how long can human eggs be frozen for?

The 10 year limit was set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in 1990.

Lucy Jenner, Senior Embryologist, CARE Nottingham.

Can the storage limit be extended?

The storage limit for human eggs can be extended for up to 55 years for people with medical reasons, such as cancer treatment, and premature infertility.

However, campaigners say they want to alter the law so that people without medical reasons will also be able to extend the storage limit for their frozen eggs, to help increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Catherine Hendy froze her eggs three years ago in South Africa, so that they would be frozen for a longer period of time than allowed in the UK.

She says the time limit creates an enormous amount of pressure for women.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that women have a better chance of a healthy pregnancy if they freeze their eggs in their 20s, when fertility is at its peak.

Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, says the "quality of your eggs diminish" the older you are.

The government carried out a public consultation in 2020 into whether the limit should be changed.

To account for the pandemic it's already added two years to the storage limit, but there is still no word yet on whether the change will be permanent. 

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