When you start down the path of assisted reproduction, your physician will explain some of the possible physical side effects of the medications and procedures you'll experience. Although I described those physical changes in Part One of this article, as an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) veteran, I felt it was important to address some of the less tangible, but equally important aspects of fertility treatments.
You know, things like money, sex, and gossip.
Before you even inject a hormone or harvest an egg, you'll experience the first side effect of assisted reproduction: a smaller bank account. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, "IVF typically costs $8,000 to $15,000 per cycle, and the national average is about $12,400." Extra procedures like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (or ICSI, where sperm is injected directly into each egg) cost an additional $750 to $1,000. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, a process to test for conditions such as Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis, adds another $3,500 to $5,000 to the bill. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for women under 35, about 37.3 percent of cycles result in a live birth; for women 41 and up, it's just 10.6 percent. That means that most women will undergo multiple cycles at $13,000 each before becoming pregnant. If those numbers sound daunting, consider these suggestions for making a baby without going bankrupt.
Many fertility clinics offer risk sharing or pregnancy guarantee packages for qualified patients. Patients pay anywhere from $16,000 to $25,000 for approximately three in vitro cycles. If you're not pregnant after a number of attempts, you'll receive a partial (usually around 75 percent) refund. It's like an insurance policy where you pay more up front for the guarantee of a baby later. I chose this option the first time I tried IVF. Because I got pregnant on my first cycle, the physician actually came out ahead on that deal! Since I had such good luck the first time, I chose to pay the standard fee and take my chances when it came time to try for another baby. And it worked!
Make a Baby Budget
Going through fertility treatments can feel a lot like playing the tables in Vegas because you're putting down money in the hope of a big payoff—a baby. And like gambling, the more money you lose the more you're tempted to try "just one more time" to get that prize. Before you find a fertility specialist, it's wise to assess your financial situation and make a baby budget to determine how much you're willing to spend before considering a different option to grow your family. Once you've set a limit, you should put that money in a separate account so you won't deplete your remaining savings with the spontaneous swipe of a credit card in a moment of weakness at the doctor's office.
If you don't have a spare $20,000 lying around, consider a payment plan offered by companies such as Capital One and FirstAgain, LLC. Patients who qualify get a low fixed rate, monthly payments spread over seven years, and money up front for procedures and medications. Many fertility specialists employ financial counselors who can advise you about available financing options too.