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How long can embryos be frozen?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Family Law

Embryos are sometimes frozen to assist with different types of reproductive technology, such as IVF, or in vitro fertilization. These embryos can then be stored while they are frozen, and the vast majority of them will survive. In fact, according to John Hopkins Medicine, the survival rate is about 95%.

While that rate is good, you may wonder how long embryos can actually be frozen. Is it an indefinite process that can last as long as needed? Or are there certain deadlines that have to be met in order for the embryos to still be viable when needed? Could storing them too long reduce the survival rate?

At least a decade

John Hopkins notes that embryos can safely be stored for around a decade. They do know that some embryos can survive for even longer than 10 years. Storage is done at the lab, and the lab technicians should be able to tell you exactly what options you have at that specific location. This changes as technology evolves. 

Moreover, scientists who have studied this process have determined that there is no negative impact when embryos are stored for a long duration of time. It doesn’t change how effective they are or alter the odds that the eventual pregnancy will be successful.

In fact, back in 2010, a successful live birth occurred after an embryo had been stored for around 20 years. So, while some medical professionals may refer to 10 years as a typical duration, it’s clear that embryos can be stored successfully for much longer than that if the proper procedures are used.

Because this is such a long-term process, it can become very complicated. Those involved must understand all of their legal options.