How women can freeze eggs in Croatia

Women sitting on the beach in Split
Women sitting on the beach in Split, Croatia

PUBLISHED: 5.3.2024.

The process of freezing eggs in Croatia has been available since 2012. Women who want to prepare themselves for pregnancy later in life or do not want to depending on their biological clock often choose this treatment as a safe option.

Another reason for egg freezing is the process of medically-assisted fertilization with your partner. In this case, your eggs are frozen for IUI or IVF treatment.

This guide will explain both options and introduce you to the basics you need to know about the process of freezing eggs in Croatia.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Can women freeze eggs in Croatia?

Croatia is one of many countries where elective egg freezing is regulated by law. However, this process is still less popular than in countries like the USA or the UK.

The rules and costs differ from country to country, and you cannot do this treatment in every country in the world. Freezing eggs in Croatia is possible, and we will explain the entire process in the sections below.

What are the reasons for egg freezing?

Eggs may undergo freezing for the purpose of preserving fertility, driven by either medical or social considerations.

Women who work in unsafe working conditions involving exposure to radiation, chemicals, or varnishes may freeze their eggs due to medical grounds. Emergency medical procedures related to the treatment of conditions such as endometriosis or cancer, along with situations like radiation, chemotherapy, or ovarian removal, are also medical reasons for this fertility preservation technique.

On the social front, individuals may opt to delay pregnancy and resort to egg freezing. Lifestyle choices, educational pursuits, career advancement, looking for a suitable life partner, and similar factors contribute to the decision to defer the initiation of parenthood, resulting in a reduced number of offspring.

[Read: Birth control, IUD, abortion, plan B, and plan C in Croatia]

What is the law on freezing eggs in Croatia?

The process of freezing eggs in Croatia is regulated by Zakon o medicinski pomognutoj oplodnji (Law on medically assisted fertilization). This law is available here.

The law states:

(1) Spolne stanice, spolna tkiva i zameci uzimaju se uz slobodan ovjereni pisani pristanak te se pohranjuju i čuvaju za postupke medicinski pomognute oplodnje za koje su ispunjene pretpostavke određene ovim Zakonom, u zdravstvenim ustanovama koje su ovlaštene za njihovo pohranjivanje.

(2) Pohranjene spolne stanice, spolna tkiva i zameci čuvaju se primjenom suvremenih dostignuća medicinske znanosti, u pravilu do pet godina od dana pohranjivanja. Uz pisani zahtjev osoba od kojih spolne stanice, spolna tkiva i zameci potječu, rok od pet godina može se produljiti za još pet godina.

Which translates as:

(1) Gametes, gamete tissues, and embryos are taken with free, certified written consent and are stored and kept for medically assisted fertilization procedures for which the prerequisites determined by this Law are met, in healthcare institutions that are authorized to store them.

(2) Stored gametes, gamete tissues, and embryos are preserved by applying modern achievements of medical science, as a rule, up to five years from the date of storage. With the written request of the persons from whom the gametes, gamete tissues, and embryos originate, the five years can be extended for another five years.

This means you can freeze your eggs in certified institutions such as public or private hospitals and later use them for medically assisted fertilization. Medically-assisted fertilization is called medicinski potpomognuta oplodnja in Croatian.

The reproduktivne ćelije (gametes) or jajne stanice (eggs), also known as sex cells or reproductive cells, are kept for 5 years from the extraction date. This period can be extended for another 5 years, but keep in mind that quality deteriorates over time.

Who can freeze eggs in Croatia?

Any adult woman in Croatia can choose to freeze her reproductive cells until they turn 42. The requirement is that their gynecologist must determine if they are healthy and ready for the procedure.

If egg freezing is performed in the process of medically-assisted fertilization, the requirement is that previous infertility treatment was unsuccessful or hopeless. If a doctor considers this to be the only way for a couple to get pregnant or there is a risk of transmitting a severe hereditary disease to a child, the couple will get approved.

Croatian residents can freeze eggs in Croatia regardless of their nationality or citizenship. In addition, foreigners can come to Croatia from abroad to freeze their eggs. In this case, they don’t have to be Croatian residents.

What is the egg freezing process in Croatia?

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Is the egg-freezing process complicated?

The process of freezing eggs is not complicated, but it is emotionally and physically demanding. The experience is very individual.

View the basic steps for freezing eggs in Croatia in the following sections.

1. Meeting the requirements

To be able to freeze eggs in Croatia, you must first meet the requirements related to your health conditions determined by ginekolog (gynecologist) and endokrinolog (endocrinologist) and your age. If the requirements are met, the process can begin.

2. Hormonal stimulation of ovaries

Following consultations with both an endocrinologist and a gynecologist, the ovarian hormonal stimulation procedure is initiated. This process results in acquiring a larger number of follicles containing egg cells on each ovary. It is a notable contrast to the hormonally unstimulated, natural cycle wherein only one egg cell is obtained in one of the ovaries.

In medically assisted fertilization procedures, the practice of freezing eggs comes into play when the hormonal stimulation of ovaries yields a surplus of mature, high-quality eggs exceeding the legally permissible limit for fertilization. In Croatia, this limit stands at 12 eggs per cycle.

3. Egg removal and freezing

Upon reaching a satisfactory size, the hCG injection is administered, paving the way for egg aspiration. The harvested oocytes undergo a meticulous cleansing process, ridding them of granulose cells.

Subsequently, high concentrations of cryoprotectant are added in small volumes at room temperature. To prevent ice crystal formation, an expedited freezing method is performed, inducing a rapid temperature drop from room temperature to -196 °C (liquid nitrogen).

4. Medically-assisted fertilization

If you are undergoing the process of keeping your eggs frozen until you need them, you don’t have to take this step.

However, if you are immediately ready for medically-assisted fertilization, then your eggs are used for the creation of embryos and then embryo transfer in IUI or IVF treatment.

Where can women freeze eggs in Croatia?

In Croatia, many authorized institutions can perform the procedure of freezing eggs, including public and private hospitals. Most clinics are located in Zagreb, but some are in other cities too.

Here are some institutions where you can freeze eggs in Croatia:

  • Osijek
    • Klinički bolnički centar Osijek – website
  • Rijeka
    • Klinički bolnički centar Rijeka – website
  • Samobor
    • Poliklinika “Škvorc”, Samobor – website
  • Split
    • Poliklinika “Cito” – website
    • Klinički bolnički centar Split – website
  • Zagreb
    • Klinički bolnički centar Zagreb – website
    • Klinički bolnički centar Sestre milosrdnice – website
    • Klinička bolnica Merkur – website
    • Klinička bolnica Sveti Duh – website
    • Poliklinika “IVF” – website
    • Poliklinika “BetaPlus” – website
    • Specijalna bolnica “Podobnik” – website

The full list of Croatian institutions where you can freeze your eggs is available here.

What are the costs of freezing eggs in Croatia?

If you are freezing eggs within medically-assisted fertilization, the procedure is covered by Hrvatski zavod za zdravstveno osiguranje (Croatian Health Insurance Fund) – HZZO. They cover the costs of 4 intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures and 6 in vitro fertilization (IVF), with the obligation that two attempts are in a natural cycle.

However, you must have obvezno health insurance if you want your costs to be covered. Every resident of Croatia has this mandatory health insurance, so the process does not depend on nationality or citizenship but only on your health insurance status.

View our Croatian health insurance guides:

If a woman wants to undergo the egg-freezing process in Croatia for social reasons, they must pay for the procedure. Many private clinics provide the procedure, as well as state hospitals, and they have their own price lists.

If you are coming to Croatia from abroad only to freeze eggs and don’t have a residence in Croatia, you can do it at your own expense in private clinics.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

How to donate eggs in Croatia?

A woman who is in the process of fertility preservation or medically-assisted fertilization can consent for her eggs to be used for the medically-assisted fertilization of another woman. It is also allowed to donate sperm or embryos to couples who have problems conceiving. However, donations rarely ever happen.

Five years after your eggs, sperm, or embryos are frozen, you can decide if you want to donate them, destroy them, or continue paying for their storage for 5 more years. It is prohibited to be paid for the donation of eggs, sperm, or embryos. Also, surrogacy is illegal in Croatia.

Note: Donating eggs, sperm, or embryos is allowed exclusively for people who are being treated for infertility in the Republic of Croatia.

View other articles related to women in Croatia

Sources:
Zakon o medicinski pomognutoj oplodnji
Hrvatski zavod za zdravstveno osiguranje


Frequently asked questions

Is there an age limit for egg freezing in Croatia?

The limit for women is 42 years of age for egg freezing, while the limit for men is 50 years for sperm freezing. If a doctor determines that a woman is biologically ready and healthy after she already turned 42, egg freezing and medically assisted fertilization can be performed.

Is surrogacy possible in Croatia?

Surrogacy is forbidden in Croatia. The law states that carrying a child for someone else or getting paid for surrogacy or donation of gametes is not allowed.

Can you get paid to donate eggs or sperm in Croatia?

No. The law prohibits the donation of reproductive cells, including eggs and sperm. You are not allowed to be paid for donations, although donations as such are allowed. Also, there is no sperm bank in Croatia.

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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