Thanks to recent advances in technology, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a very effective treatment for infertility – but it’s also expensive. In this article, we’ll go over the cost of IVF, the different elements you should financially plan for, and your financing options.
What’s the real cost of IVF?
The cost of IVF varies from state to state and from one clinic to another – it is also highly dependent on your own specific case, the nature of treatments required, and how many cycles you’ll need.
According to RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, the average cost (in 2017) of one IVF cycle in the US was $23,000. However, at $12,400, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) quotes a much lower figure. This is because the ASRM estimate relates to the costs billed directly by the fertility clinic for the most basic of IVF cycles – it does not include any other accompanying procedures or the required medications billed by pharmacies, which the RESOLVE figure does include.
Regarding number of cycles needed: statistics by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) show that the success rate of an IVF cycle is above 30%. This is a better rate than historical averages – but it still means one will likely need multiple IVF cycles. Physicians who spoke to RESOLVE note that most patients need 2-3 IVF cycles before they’re successful. Studies also show that, at 65.3%, the greatest success rates are recorded in the sixth cycle. However, it helps to know in advance that, because of the procedure’s financial, emotional, and physical toll, many IVF patients do not proceed past a second or third cycle. Finally, given that many couples who go the IVF route end up paying more than they expected out of pocket – it certainly helps to have accurate expectations to avoid surprises.
All of that said, each step of the IVF process has associated costs – the below outlines the different procedures you will (or may) need, with estimated costs for each.
Pre-IVF Consultations: $225 – $1050
Cost of initial consultation varies widely from clinic to clinic, depending on the facilities available and doctors’ experience.
Blood Work: $800 – $1500
There are differences between clinics as to what kind of testing they require with some also referring patients to third party labs for testing. The most common is ovarian reserve testing where a blood sample is taken to measure the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), providing insight into the size and quality of your eggs. Testing is also done to identify possible genetic disorders, diseases, and viruses, as well as to check if there are incompatibilities between the blood types of the mother and father.
Injectable Medications: $4000 – $8000 per cycle
Medications, commonly known as fertility drugs, are prescribed to boost egg supply prior to egg retrieval.
Monitoring appointments are scheduled to track the cycle and to time the egg retrieval. This cost is usually included in the basic IVF package but there are additional costs for a frozen transfer as this will require an additional monitoring cycle (hormone medication will be prescribed to prepare the uterus to accept the embryo for implantation).
Egg Retrieval + Anesthesia: $600 – $1500
This, too, varies from one clinic to another, with some clinics including the charge of anesthesia in the total cost and others billing it separately.
It should also be noted here that using your own previously frozen eggs will change your overall IVF cost as the egg retrieval stage is already accounted for.
Sperm Retrieval: $3,000 – $12,000
Men with no sperm in their ejaculate will need to have sperm medically retrieved. There are various sperm retrieval procedures available, including:
Each of these is explained in more detail in this article by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Your doctor will recommend which procedure is best for your specific case.
Fresh cycle donor egg: $25,000
For women of advanced maternal age or who do not have viable eggs for other reasons, donor eggs may be needed.
Frozen donor egg: $12,500
While fresh cycle donor eggs have slightly higher success rates, frozen donor eggs are a good option as well when it’s not possible to use one’s own eggs. Learn more about the differences between fresh and frozen eggs in this article.
Donor sperm: $1000 per vial
Donor sperm is required in some cases of male factor infertility or if you’re going through IVF as a single person.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): $1000 – $2000
When the sperm cannot penetrate the egg’s outer layer on its own, ICSI is required. Instead of allowing the sperm and egg to randomly meet, with ICSI a single sperm is placed directly into a mature egg.
Frozen Embryo Transfer: $800 – $4,000
Frozen embryo transfers are rarely included in the base cost of IVF, but some IVF cases do benefit more from a frozen embryo transfer – this includes women with PCOS or endometriosis, and those with high progesterone at the time of egg retrieval.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing: $1,500 – $5,000
The cost varies greatly on this one – it depends on the testing method used and the number of embryos tested. Testing is done to check for specific genetic abnormalities or to determine if the embryos are chromosomally normal. For more insight into different genetic testing methods, check out The IVF Process: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Assisted Hatching: $450
This is an additional procedure where the shell of the embryo is artificially weakened to help the embryo ‘hatch’ and implant into the uterine wall. Studies suggest the procedure improves success rates in women with failed IVF cycles and those with a poor prognosis.
Embryo Storage (Cryopreservation): $350 – $1000 per year
A number of clinics offer the first year for free, with additional billing from then on.
To sum up then, total costs can range from the basic $12,000 to $60,000 if additional procedures are required.
How can I pay for IVF?
Jennifer Palumbo, writer, and infertility and women’s health advocate says, “The way I look at it is “fertile people” only have to ask, “Should we have more children?” whereas those who struggle to conceive either have to ask, “Am I able to have more children?” or even more complicated, “Can we afford IVF treatment to try to have children?”
It’s no secret that IVF is expensive – and the fact that the process is also unpredictable (there’s no way of knowing upfront how many cycles you’ll need, or the specific procedures that will be required), doesn’t help matters. But IVF does help make many family building dreams come true.
There are financing options available: loans and grants can help you cover most if not all of the costs associated with IVF. Each financing program has its specific requirements and thresholds, and in the case of grants, you will have to meet stringent criteria to qualify. But they’re worth looking into!
Some fertility providers also offer customized payment plans and other in-house financing options to help facilitate the process even further.
You may also be one of the lucky ones who has an employer that offers fertility benefits. Even if your benefits don’t cover all costs, it’s of course helpful if they get you off to a good start. If you haven’t already, speak with your Human Resources / Benefits contact about options available to you. It also doesn’t hurt to encourage your employer to add fertility treatment coverage if it’s not offered yet – fertility benefits are becoming more commonly expected by employees, regardless of industry.
For more detailed information on financing IVF, you can check out our article Options for Financing Surrogacy – many of the financing options listed can also apply for other fertility treatments, including IVF.
Will my insurance cover IVF?
Most insurance plans do not cover the costs of IVF or other fertility treatments. That said, one of the first steps in your financial planning process would be to check in with your health insurance provider regarding what is covered and what isn’t. Coverage depends and varies based on the insurance company, state-specific legislation, age, reasons for infertility and relationship status. Some states mandate that insurers ‘cover’ infertility treatments by providing coverage as a benefit in every policy. Others only mandate that companies ‘offer’, that is, to make available for purchase policies that cover infertility treatment. As laws continuously evolve and can vary substantially from one state to another, it’s best to check the NCSL website for more up-to-date information related to your state.
The cost of IVF can feel like a barrier, but with some good planning, you can make it a surmountable one. Think your costs through based on your specific case and circumstances, make a plan for how to save up for the procedure, identify your financing options and have a good talk with your insurance provider. As always, GoStork is here to help you out as you research IVF providers.