The True Cost of Infertility
Which costs more: treatment bills or emotional damage?
The desire to conceive and to have a baby can be very strong. So strong, in fact, that there is an entire industry built around that dream.
I once thought fertility treatments were about helping couples overcome medical barriers to natural conception. It seemed like a great (though costly) resource for those who need it.
But there’s another side–a side that makes me wonder if it’s possible that infertile couples are being preyed on for profit. Their pain point is easy to target and the costs are high. Fertility treatments average more than $5,000, while couples receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF) can expect to pay over $19,000 on average. Fertility fairs and advanced reproductive technologies promise babies if couples can just hang in there. If they just try this or that product. If they go one more round. And have the money to afford it all. Unfortunately, the failure rate of fertility treatments were 77% globally in 2012.
And then there’s the emotional price-tag.
I feared fertility treatments. Every OB-GYN visit throughout the three years we struggled to conceive our first child left me with unanswered questions. Why couldn’t I get pregnant? How could the tests come back “normal?” Who’s fault was it—which of us was the broken one?
I started to feel like my doctor wasn’t listening to my concerns or trying to solve the mystery that was my irregular cycle. When I received a phone call telling me my Clomid prescription was ready to be picked up at the pharmacy, I found a new doctor. We hadn’t discussed it. I hadn’t agreed to it. She mentioned it as a possible course of action in an appointment with only me. Shouldn’t we discuss fertility treatments with my husband, too? Why was it prescribed so casually?
With each passing year we wondered if we needed medical intervention. I was scared of the financial burden it posed and jumped to the “what ifs” of treatments failing. Was I mentally and emotionally stable enough to endure it? What would happen if everything we tried failed?
It took a lot of time and tears before I started to accept the possibility that we couldn’t conceive on our own. When we finally sought out a specialist, I found out I was pregnant. Those three years of trying were emotionally draining, but many others have a longer and harder journey to parenthood.
Being infertile sends you on an emotional roller coaster with no certainty of stopping. Feelings of sadness can turn into depression. Relationships can become strained. Failed treatments and external pressure can make women feel ashamed. Continuing to chase the dream is like gambling with the hope of success if you go one more round—except additional rounds of fertility treatments do not increase the odds of success.
“The more extensive the intervention when trying to have a baby, the greater the sense of shame when it doesn’t succeed. Then when medicine fails us, we feel doubly broken,” Pamela M. Tsigdinos, the forum’s co-producer and author of “Silent Sorority,” a memoir chronicling her decade-long struggle to conceive, told Women’s eNews in an interview.
Not getting pregnant is seen as failure. And giving up on treatments can intensify feelings of failure and as well as grief. Yet many people believe fertility clinics, science and technology hold the answer and the solution when couples are unable to conceive on their own.
Fertility businesses continue to sell us hope, but at what cost?
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN