How Long Do Frozen Embryos Last? By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on March 15, 2019

Frozen embryoThere is hope for those dealing with fertility problems. At Houston Fertility Center, Dr. Sonja Kristiansen offers infertility treatments to give patients a greater chance of becoming a parent.

One of the most successful fertility treatments is IVF. During the IVF process, an egg is fertilized in vitro or outside of the body, and then later transferred to the uterus.

In some cases, implantation takes place right away, but in others, embryos are frozen for later use. Similarly, if a woman has one or two embryos implanted immediately, she may have other viable embryos that she chooses to freeze.

When embryos have been frozen, patients have greater control over family planning. However, there is a question of viability. Here, Dr. Kristiansen discusses how long frozen embryos last. Read on, and then contact our Houston, TX practice to learn more.

The Viability of Frozen Embryos

There is no research to show exactly how long a frozen embryo will last, but many scientists theorize that frozen embryos should remain viable indefinitely.

In 2013, the Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine presented their findings of a study looking at how the length of storage affected the viability of frozen human embryos.

During their 36-month study, they observed the results of 651 transfer cycles using thawed eggs. They broke data down into five groups of patients using embryos that had been stored:

  • Less than 90 days
  • 90 to 365 days
  • 365 to 730 days
  • 730 to 1,095 days
  • More than 1,095 days

At the conclusion of the study, they found that the duration of storage had no negative impact on implantation success rates.

Further supporting the data published in this study, CNN reported in 2017 that a 25-year-old woman had given birth to a baby that was the result of an in vitro fertilization procedure using a donated embryo that had been frozen for 24 years, just one year less than the woman had been alive. It is believed that this is the record for the longest frozen human embryo to result in a birth.

Storing Frozen Embryos

What seems to matter more than the duration of the storage of a frozen embryo is how it is stored. Embryos must be stored at the correct temperature to remain viable.

Once the embryo has been frozen, it is kept in a tube that is surrounded by liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen keeps the embryo around -320 degrees. Embryos must remain at this temperature until they are ready to be thawed for implantation.

What if I Choose Not to Use My Frozen Embryos?

Although embryos can be kept frozen forever, most patients reach a point when they need to decide what to do with unused embryos. There is always the option to discard frozen embryos.

However, for those who wish their embryos to be put to use in some other way, they may be donated to science, or to another couple that wants to have a baby.

Learn More

If you have questions about freezing embryos, or would just like to learn more about the fertility services offered at the Houston Fertility Center, contact us at your earliest convenience. You can schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Sonja Kristiansen by calling (713) 862-6181.

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Dr. Sonja Kristiansen

Houston Fertility Center

Dr. Sonja Kristiansen is the founder and Medical Director of Houston Fertility Center. She is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist Infertility (REI) specialist who is proud to help hopeful parents fulfill their dreams of having children. Our center is affiliated with the:

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • Texas Medical Association

We provide convenient care for patients from greater Houston and visitors from out of town. For more information about our services, contact our office online or call (713) 225-5375 today.

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