What is gamete storage?
Freezing sperm, eggs or embryos for future use.
It's also known as Sperm banking, Egg storage, Embryo storage, Fertility preservation, or Cryopreservation.
What does gamete storage do?
Reduces risk of infertility
How long does gamete storage last?
Gamete storage requires a regular payment each year you continue to store gametes.
What should I be aware of?
Storing gametes does not guarantee the ability to later have children. Use of stored gametes only sometimes results in pregnancy.
Why might I want gamete storage?
A number of treatments and surgical procedures to change things related to gender may have infertility as a possible risk or a certain consequence.
Some people who intend to have children after their treatment will store gametes (sperm or eggs) before they start treatment. These can later be used when they are ready to have children. The gametes are frozen and can be later defrosted and used at a time when they are needed.
Are there other options?
Instead of storing gametes, it is also possible to store embryos or reproductive tissue. The techniques for using reproductive tissue are currently experimental 1, p.137.
Alternatives to using stored material are adopting or fostering children, using donated sperm or eggs from another person, or using a surrogate.
How much will it cost?
If you have a formal diagnosis and the NHS will be providing medical treatments relating to gender that could affect your fertility, you may be able to access funding for gamete storage:
- NHS England: funding varies by local area based on rules set by your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), with many CCGs now funding treatment.
- NHS Wales: gamete storage is funded for 10 years 2, p.2
- NHS Scotland: information can be found on the NGICNS website
The Human Fertilisations and Embryology Authority have details of costs and funding of gamete collection and storage, including options that may help you reduce costs such as egg sharing and treatment abroad. You also can use their search tool to find a clinic that will help you.
There are also a number of private options. This will generally cost several hundred for storing sperm, or several thousand for storing eggs. There will be extra costs per year you want to store them for.
Where can I learn more?
There is detailed information about gamete storage and fertility treatments for trans and non-binary people on the Human Fertilisations and Embryology Authority website and on the Wales Fertility Institute website.
- 1.De Roo, Chloe, Tilleman, Kelly and De Sutter, Petra (2017) “Fertility Options in Transgender People,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 133–146. Link
- 2.Wales Fertility Institute (2020) Fertility Preservation for Trans and Gender Diverse People, NHS Wales. Link
This page is illustrated using a photograph by Dr. Vereczkey Attila available at Wikimedia.
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