Couples having trouble conceiving are not alone. Infertility is a common issue for couples, and multiple things could cause it, like age, a reproductive medical condition and irregular periods.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common ways to treat infertility, giving couples a greater chance of conceiving. In the United States, about 2% of the live births every year are thanks to assisted reproductive technology, primarily through IVF.
Even though IVF has become a popular method of conceiving, it can be costly. Couples hoping to utilize this amazing technology may feel burdened with the financial aspect of it. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize those costs so more couples can afford this life-altering technology that may help them complete their families.
What Is IVF?
In vitro fertilization is a procedure that facilitates the fertilization of an egg outside of the body. Typically, sperm fertilizes an egg in a woman’s body, but this method mimics that natural fertilization and allows for a normal pregnancy and childbirth. Once the egg is fertilized, it gets reimplanted in the woman’s body for pregnancy.
IVF involves a few steps. First, the woman will have to take medication that helps stimulate the ovaries so eggs can form for the procedure. Once the eggs are ready, a doctor extracts them, then places them in an incubator.
From there, the eggs can be inseminated by either donor sperm or that from the woman’s partner. The doctor will monitor the eggs to ensure successful fertilization and the development of an embryo. Once that has matured, a doctor can reinsert it into the uterus, and it has to implant in the uterus lining.
Who Can Use IVF?
Those who have had experience with infertility typically use IVF. Below are some of the causes of infertility that are usually treatable using in vitro fertilization:
- Genetic disease in either the mother or the father
- Low sperm counts or decreased sperm motility
- Problems with ovulation
- Irregular periods
- Poor quality of eggs
- Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
- Unexplained infertility
There’s a chance for IVF to help each of these issues so a couple can successfully have a child. Even though IVF works reasonably well, the success rates vary depending on different factors. For example, a woman or man with past reproductive problems or a particular cause of infertility may have little or no success in conceiving. Plus, pregnancy rates are not the same as birth rates — a woman may become pregnant but may not come to full term with her pregnancy.
The live birth rates are sometimes dependent on age, too. A woman under 35 years of age has up to a 43% chance of having a live birth. As a woman gets older, that percentage drops. For someone over the age of 40, the chances of live birth are anywhere between 13-18%.
The Cost of IVF
The cost of IVF depends upon various factors. Overall, the average price of in vitro fertilization is around $12,000 in the United States. Costs often vary between clinics, states, the amount of insurance coverage and the type of infertility a couple is experiencing, so a couple could pay as little as $5,000 or as much as $30,000 or more.
Added to those averages is the cost of medication. Medications can be another $5,000, too. Then, the couple may have to go through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which reduces the risk of any genetic disorders within the embryo. This can cost another few thousand dollars. For each try at pregnancy, a couple could spend about $20,000.
If a woman is unsuccessful in the first round but has more embryos, they can be frozen and stored for future use through a process called Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). A doctor uses vitrified embryos, which costs an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per cycle. There are also storage fees for the frozen embryos, which can be a couple of hundred dollars each year.
This may seem like a lot of money, and it certainly is. Fortunately, there are ways to lower the cost of in vitro fertilization.
Will Insurance Cover IVF?
Insurance coverage for IVF can be tricky. Some insurance companies will offer assistance, and others won’t. It’s best if each couple asks their insurance company regarding IVF. Certain states mandate insurance coverage for fertility treatments. Those states include West Virginia, Texas, Rhode Island, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Montana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Louisiana, Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut, California and Arkansas. Each of these states has different regulations regarding coverage, though.
Each couple should understand exactly what their insurance will cover before going through treatments. Insurance companies will have different costs and coverage regarding testing, monitoring, medications and retrievals. Besides insurance, couples may be able to apply for grants for their IVF treatments, which helps lower the cost.
Couples seeking fertility treatments should always research and get quotes for an IVF treatment. The goal is to have a baby, not just go through IVF. Some clinics may have extremely low costs, but if their success rates are low, it may be better to go with a higher-costing and high success rate clinic to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and live birth. Low success rates at a clinic may mean more cycles, which increases the price and may not save on costs.
Many clinics will offer some type of payment program to help make IVF more affordable. There may be refund programs where the clinic will refund money if the couple is unsuccessful a certain number of times. Additional financial help can come from credit cards, crowdfunding, borrowing from family members, loans and retirement savings.
The Cost of Fertility
The journey to having a baby via fertility treatment is long, but it’s so worth it once a couple has a successful birth. People are usually willing to do whatever it takes to help an infertile couple with finances to complete their family.