How Long Do Frozen Eggs Last?

ovascience_april_6_2012

Before answering this question you must first understand the difference between a human egg and an embryo. Eggs, or oocytes, are the female component of an embryo. An embryo is what is formed after a male sperm fertilizes the human egg. It is the embryo that will eventually turn into a fetus.

Most commonly your eggs will be turned into embryos within a couple of days following your retrieval. Those embryos will then be either transferred into the uterus of a surrogate, or frozen for future use. Once frozen, embryos can remain viable for many years, with cases of live birth resulting as long as 15 years after freezing!

The practice of freezing unfertilized human eggs for future use is not as well documented. The belief is that, like embryos, eggs will be able to remain viable for a number of years once frozen. Current research has highlighted frozen eggs being viable for up to 4 or 5 years, but the belief is that the eggs would maintain their usefulness as long as the freezing conditions remained consistent and optimal.

The cause for the lack of depth of knowledge in this topic is, in part, due to the fact that the practice of freezing human eggs is relatively new. While male sperm has been frozen and thawed for many decades, the first instances of human egg freezing only occurred in the 1980s. It was originally believed that the freezing of eggs would lead to an increase in chromosomal abnormalities. This original fear, observed in laboratory mice, caused researchers to postpone their studies.

Over recent decades, scientists have been able to dispel this concern and have witnessed healthy children born of embryos that were created using frozen eggs. The potential for egg freezing is only just beginning to be explored.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.