How long can I store my embryos for use in treatment?
If your embryos are not used immediately in treatment, you may wish to store them so they can be used for treatment in the future. To be stored embryos are frozen. You will need to think about how far in the future you might want or be able to use stored embryos and the potential costs of storing. This is something you should discuss with your clinic.
You should be aware that embryos can only be stored if both you and the egg or sperm provider have given consent. This may be your partner, or it may be a donor (if donor sperm or eggs have been used in your treatment).
On 1 July 2022, the rules on how long you can store eggs, sperm or embryos changed. Before 1 July 2022, most people could usually only store their embryos for up to 10 years. Only if they had premature infertility or were going to be having medical treatment which could affect their fertility, could they store for up to 55 years.
The law now permits you to store embryos for use in treatment for any period up to a maximum of 55 years from the date that the embryos are first placed in storage. However, crucially for storage to lawfully continue you will need to renew your consent every 10 years. You must give your consent on the relevant consent form. You will be contacted by your clinic with relevant information and they should also provide you an offer of counselling before you give consent to storage of your embryos. Your clinic will contact you and provide the consent forms that you need to complete at the appropriate time. It is therefore essential that you keep your contact details up to date with your clinic as you will need to be contacted. If your clinic is unable to contact you your embryos will be at risk of being removed from storage and disposed of.
You don’t have to match the length of storage to any contract for paying for the storage (whether you, or the NHS, is paying). However, if you don’t pay for storage as agreed, the clinic may be within its right to dispose your embryos. Your clinic should have explained this to your clearly when you stored your embryos.