With rising infertility rates, many couples are turning to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to aid in conception when planning for a future family. But it doesn’t come cheap. One IVF cycle in America usually costs between $12,000 and $25,000. Many variables can affect the price tag of this procedure.
Before you decide to invest in assisted reproductive technology (ART), it’s important to understand the factors that can contribute to IVF costs before deciding which path to take.
What Is IVF?
IVF, short for in vitro fertilization, is the process of fertilizing (joining) a woman’s egg with male sperm in vitro (outside of the body). During the IVF process, ovarian stimulation is performed to produce eggs. Once the ovaries have produced eggs, they are retrieved and fertilized outside the body to create fresh embryos. The embryos are then transferred into the uterus.
After a round of IVF has been completed, pregnancy testing determines if the implantation was successful. This process, also known as a fresh embryo transfer, is a solution that many couples have turned to for infertility struggles or to get pregnant faster.
While IVF cost is a deterrent for many, there are several ways to lower the out-of-pocket expense of the procedure.
Who Performs IVF?
Medical professionals, mainly reproductive endocrinologists, perform IVF. Reproductive endocrinologists are doctors specifically trained in reproductive medicine and fertility. They are OB/GYN doctors with additional medical training to diagnose infertility and perform treatments like IVF.
In addition to reproductive treatments, reproductive endocrinologists can treat fertility issues like endometriosis, menstrual disorders, uterine fibroids, secondary infertility, and PCOS. They can also treat male fertility issues like low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, and reproductive organ problems.
When fertility problems don’t have a treatment available, reproductive endocrinologists can move on to solutions like IVF, IUI (intrauterine insemination), surrogacy, and gamete intrafallopian transfer.
Along with reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists play a role in IVF by fertilizing embryos in their labs. They can perform embryo and egg freezing as well as ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Additionally, the IVF process is aided by nurses and support staff to ensure as much success as possible.
Is IVF Covered by Insurance?
While some countries require that health insurance covers invitro fertilization, the United States does not. Twenty-one states plus the District of Columbia have fertility insurance coverage laws, but only 15 of those state laws include IVF coverage.
Most people in the United States do not have insurance coverage for IVF and must pay most costs out of pocket.
How Much Does IVF Cost?
Many variables can impact the price of IVF, such as whether or not couples receive additional services like ICSI, assisted hatching, or endometrial receptivity.
Beyond the add-ons of IVF, there are also costs to consider that can be incurred pre-procedure:
- Injectable medications- Typically cost around $2,000-$7,000.
- Fertility assessment- Depending on whether your health insurance will cover your assessment or if you choose in-home testing or fertility testing at a clinic using ultrasounds, the price can range anywhere from $150 to $1,000. Though unlikely, assessments can cost much more if issues are discovered and subsequent scans, such as ultrasounds or MRIs, are required.
- Monitoring appointments- Generally included in the base fee of IVF.
- Sperm analysis- This may be covered by insurance or may cost around $250 out of pocket.
Below is a breakdown of how several other additional fertility services can drastically raise the IVF cost:
- Anesthesia- During the egg retrieval procedure, opting for anesthesia can add up to $750 to your hospital bill.
- Assisted Hatching- Assisted hatching is a procedure in which a special laser assists the embryo in hatching from the zona pellucida, known as its “shell.” This is typically only used if the shell isn’t already thinning before the embryo transfer and costs around $500 on average.
- Donor sperm- While the cost of a sperm donor varies from place to place, a vial of sperm typically costs between $400-$2,000.
- Embryo cryopreservation- Embryo cryopreservation, or freezing the embryo to preserve it, costs around $600, with one year of storage included in the fee.
- Embryo storage- Storage fees can range from around $350 to $1,000 per year.
- Endometrial receptivity- This testing can be done before IVF to assess the receptivity of the uterus. Endometrial receptivity, on average, costs $600-$1,000.
- Frozen embryo transfer (FET)- IVF doesn’t require fresh embryos. In many cases, embryos will be frozen to be preserved and used later. The cost of transferring frozen embryos can vary from around $650 to over $5,000.
- Gestational surrogacy- Some couples opt for gestational surrogacy, where the fertilized egg is carried by another woman (surrogate). Hiring a gestational carrier, on average, costs around $110,000.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)- This method of sperm injection costs around $1,500.
- Mock embryo transfer- This process helps the doctors better identify the patient’s specific needs during IVF and costs around $240-$500.
- Preimplantation genetic testing- This can be used to test the genetic profile of an embryo before it’s transferred to identify genetic disorders or to determine the sex of the baby. This testing can range from $200-3,000 for the initial biopsy and between $1,000-$3,500 for the actual genetic screening.
Are IVF Costs Tax Deductible?
Yes, fertility treatment costs can be tax deductible. According to the IRS Publication 502, “fertility enhancement” (including in vitro fertilization) is listed as a medical expense that qualifies as tax deductible. Any qualifying medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your annual gross income can be considered tax deductible. IVF costs are only tax-deductible to those who itemize their tax deductions.
Where Is IVF Cheapest?
America is the most expensive place to receive IVF. Studies have shown that in the United States, one round of IVF is 271% more expensive than the mean cost in 25 other countries.
In the United States, CNY (Central New York) Fertility is one of the most affordable and reputable options for IVF, sitting at a base cost of $4,500.
Some Americans decide to travel overseas to seek more affordable IVF treatment. “Fertility tourism” travelers may head to countries like Greece, Czechia, Spain, Turkey, and Denmark, which all have comparably affordable rates.
How Many Cycles of IVF To Get Pregnant?
The number of cycles for IVF to succeed varies from person to person. In one study on live birth rates, it took an average of 6 rounds of IVF to conceive, with 65.3% of the women successfully giving birth by the sixth cycle of IVF.
However, IVF is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some couples may succeed with one round of IVF, while other couples may require more than one IVF treatment or find that infertility treatment is not successful for them.
Increased cycles may drastically increase the price tag of IVF. What was a $12,500 investment can quickly become over $100,000 with multiple rounds of IVF and expensive add-ons.
What Are the Success Rates for IVF?
The average success rates for IVF vary depending on age. Fertility data shows that in 2020, first-time IVF patients under age 35 had a 55% success rate. For ages 35-37, this number decreased to 40.5% and then lowered to 26.4% for women ages 38-40. For ages above 40, the first-time success rate dropped to 8.2%. Although research supports that age plays a role in IVF success rates, each fertility situation is different.
How To Save Money on IVF Costs
Here are some ways to lower the IVF cost and save money on treatments:
- Clinical trials– Some universities, hospitals, doctor’s offices, or clinics offer partial or full compensation for IVF treatments if you want to participate in a clinical trial or study. The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers a database where you can see if there’s a trial that you qualify for. Always consult a doctor before participating in any health-related trial or study.
- Do everything possible to make your first cycle successful– A major way to reduce IVF costs is to not have to undergo more than one cycle. There are many ways to increase the chances of successful conception. Eat nutritious foods that will support your and your partner’s fertility. Practice a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, limit caffeine, limit smoking, and reduce stress through mind-body work. Do everything you can to make implantation successful. While keeping a fertility goddess statue in your bedroom may not help, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
- Financial aid for those currently or previously battling cancer– Many organizations offer financial assistance for IVF medication, egg freezing, or embryo freezing for those with cancer or cancer survivors. Some of these organizations include the Heart Beat Program, LIVESTRONG Fertility, and Worth the Wait.
- Identify what is impacting your fertility– Consider NOT doing IVF, and instead, discover the root cause of your infertility and how to treat it. Consider working with a functional doctor, who will do additional testing to discover if you have any hidden health concerns that can be addressed. Additionally, there are many natural ways to improve your fertility and avoid the fees of IVF altogether. Eliminating toxins from your lifestyle, following a fertility diet, trying a fertility smoothie, practicing mind-body work, and taking fertility supplements may increase your odds of conception.
- Income-based help– Several organizations offer income-based programs that provide financial relief for those seeking IVF, including Family Formation Charitable Trust, the Compassionate Care Program, and INCIID.
- Insurance coverage– Many insurance policies offer fertility coverage to help with self-pay expenses and lower the IVF cost for many people.
- Known donor eggs– Some clinics allow a directed egg donor, or known donor, which is when a friend or family member donates eggs. Typically, known donors must have a medical screening, psychological evaluation, and a consultation with a lawyer.
- Military discounts– Some fertility clinics offer grants or discounted financing options for both active or retired military service members for IVF services or fertility medication costs. The National Fertility Association, Revolve, has a detailed list of IVF insurance coverage, military facilities that offer fertility treatment, and military discount programs. Additionally, many nonprofit organizations help military service members lower their IVF costs.
- Mini IVF– Mini IVF, or low-stim IVF, uses fewer medications than other forms of IVF. Although this reduces the cost of IVF, it’s important to note that fewer medications often lead to fewer eggs, reducing the chances of conception. While this is a great avenue for some, for others, mini IVF ends up requiring more rounds of treatment in the long run (which makes it more expensive).
- Refund programs– Some fertility clinics offer outcome-based pricing, which provides partial compensation for unsuccessful IVF treatments for eligible participants. It’s important to consider the varying terms of different money-back programs, including how much of a refund is provided, who qualifies, and what defines a “viable pregnancy” by the clinic.
- Medication discount programs– Depending on your location, some clinics or pharmacies offer discounts on fertility medications for those who qualify without coverage in their insurance plan.
Many variables can influence the cost of IVF. As fertility treatments continue to rise in popularity, make sure to consider all of the factors that can impact the price point and ways to reduce costs.
Depending on your situation and which fertility center you go to, there are many ways to navigate IVF costs. Ask your doctor in your initial consultation how you can save on fertility treatments and explore any available financial assistance or payment plans that may help make the process more affordable for you.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.