Eggs, sperm and embryos not used in a treatment procedure can be stored for future use. Eggs and sperm (gametes) can be stored for 10 years and embryos can be stored for five years. If you wish to keep your embryos in storage for longer than five years, you will need to consent to a further storage period with your clinic. You are able to store embryos for up to five years longer than the initial five-year storage period (i.e. total of 10 years).
If you wish to keep your gametes or embryos in storage for longer than this time, you will need to apply to the Patient Review Panel for approval of a longer storage period. Details about how to make an application for an extension of storage time for gametes and embryos are available on the Patient Review Panel website.
Clinics may remove gametes and embryos from storage if written consent has been given for removal. In the case of embryos, both of the people who produced the gametes to form the embryo must consent to its removal.
If your gametes or embryos reach the end of their storage period and you have not applied for an extension of storage time, the clinic is required by law to remove your gametes or embryos from storage. The clinic will contact you before the end of the storage period to determine your wishes in relation to the gametes or embryos you have in storage. It is important that you keep your contact details up-to-date with the clinic to ensure that they can contact you.
People who have embryos in storage for use in assisted reproductive treatment often find it difficult to decide what to do with the embryos when they are no longer receiving treatment.
Gamete and embryo storage provisions
The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic) regulates the length of time gametes and embryos may be stored for treatment and provides circumstances in which storage periods can be extended.
Regulation of gamete and embryo storage is intended to ensure that gametes and embryos do not remain in storage without the consent of those who provided the gametes, and to limit the build up of unwanted stores of gametes and embryos.