November 17, 2022
3 Minutes

Where Are My Eggs!?

Where Are My Eggs!?
Written by
Dr Fatema Mustansir Dawoodbhoy
Amilis makes fertility digestible, accessible, and affordable to help you take charge of your reproductive health and live on your own timeline.

In an eggshell...

  • Eggs are flash-frozen using liquid nitrogen at -196⁰C.
  • The eggs are stored in specialized tanks with multiple monitoring systems and daily inspections to ensure safety.
  • The average cost for egg storage in the UK is approximately £350 per year.
  • With recent changes, eggs can now be stored for up to 55 years without quality deterioration, thanks to the advanced vitrification process.

So you’ve gone through the whole egg-freezing process, the endless hormones, ultrasounds and finally the retrieval but what happens now? How are your eggs frozen and where do they go?

How are my eggs frozen and stored?

The egg-freezing process is as simple as it sounds. They are frozen, or more specifically flash-frozen, via a process called vitrification. Your eggs are placed on the tip of special straws and labelled individually before they are plunged into liquid nitrogen and kept at -196⁰C. Brr how cold! 

Not all of your mature extracted eggs make it into the nitrogen tank, but the odds are reassuring. Around 90% of mature extracted eggs survive the vitrification process.

Where are frozen eggs stored?

Eggs are stored in specific tanks designated to withstand the cold temperatures of the liquid nitrogen. The tanks are placed in a secure egg-freezing room, usually in the clinic itself, with restricted access to specific personnel. 

You might be worried about your eggs and what happens if the cooling system malfunctions or the tank fails. Worry not, each tank usually has its own separate monitor and multiple monitoring systems in place. This all ensures the tanks are at proper temperatures and liquid nitrogen levels. It can be hard to leave everything to technology, so to ensure a human element, tanks are inspected daily by a staff member. There are usually multiple fail safes in place such as backup generators or extra liquid nitrogen tanks in case of a power failure.

How much does it cost to store my eggs?

As with any storage, it comes with a cost. To ensure you have all the information, we have collected the average storage costs of clinics in the UK and which is around £350 a year. Each clinic will have its specific egg storage costs! You can easily compare storage prices for each clinic on your simple platform here

How long can frozen eggs be stored?

We recently experienced a win in May 2022, when there was a change for egg/embryo storage rights. In the past, social egg freezing (not for medical reasons) could only be stored for a maximum of 10 years before being destroyed but now, all eggs can be stored for up to 55 years! 

If you are scared that the quality of eggs deteriorates as they stay frozen, let the technology reassure you. As they are frozen in a particular way at extremely low temperatures, the liquid nitrogen ensures no biological changes happen within the egg. So this means the eggs are kept at exactly the same quality as when they are extracted, so no deterioration in quality. Essentially this means they could technically be frozen forever! The benefit of the vitrification process is that it freezes the eggs pretty much instantly which increases freezing survival rates, reduces cell damage and minimises detrimental effects of thawing of the eggs compared to the old slow-freezing method.

Amilis - who are we?

Here at Amilis, we are looking to break down the barriers to information women struggle to find on fertility - we are talking stats, costs and everything else the internet hides from us. You can find a clinic with us on our website and through us secure a free initial consultation with them.

Written by
Dr Fatema Mustansir Dawoodbhoy

Academic Foundation Doctor at Barts Health NHS Trust