I really wish I could say that getting pregnant was simple, but the reality is, my wife and I spent three years trying and required In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Infertility is something many couples don’t talk about, but it affects roughly 1 in 6 couples in Canada. Going in, we knew it would be an expensive venture, but we still wondered how much does IVF cost? After experiencing it first hand, I’m going to share with you what you should expect if you decide to go this route. Note that this is what I paid in Ontario, Canada. Prices vary by province and country.
|Initial tests & consultations||$600|
|IUI drugs||$3,000||$1,000 per procedure X 3|
|IUI procedures||$1,500||$500 per procedure X 3|
|IVF drugs||$3,300||Based on 3 embryo transfers|
|Egg retrieval||$9,000||Includes sperm washing & insemination|
|Freezing of eggs||$1,750||Not everyone has to pay this|
|Admin fees||$500||$250 each - retrieval & transfer|
|IVF transfers||$4,500||$1,500 per procedure X 3|
|Total estimated cost||$25,000||Budget $20,000 - $25,000|
I’m going to be clear, the above estimates are not EXACTLY what my wife and I paid. I had to use some averages just so you can kind of get a rough estimate of what you should budget and/or expect to pay. You may end up spending less or you may end up spending more. But a good number to budget is $20,000 – $25,000 (mind you I’m quite conservative so this might be a bit high).
I’m not 100% sure of this, but I also believe that not every fertility clinic charges the same amount. Prices should be similar, but they can definitely vary.
I should also note that the cost of drugs will vary. Sure a lot of them you will need to use, but dosages and the types of drugs you require will depend on the individual person. Not all employer drug plans will cover the cost of infertility drugs. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll get some of your drugs covered, but don’t bank on it.
The medical procedures can be written off as medical expenses, but not all your drugs. I recommend keeping all your receipts and keeping a detailed log so you can give it to your accountant come tax time.
What to expect when getting help
The general rule when you need to seek help with getting pregnant is to wait 12 months after trying (if you’re under the age of 35) and 6 months if you’re over the age of 35. However, speak to your family doctor as they may suggest you to come back before 12 months since it takes a couple months to get that specialist appointment. You will need a referral to a fertility specialist from your family doctor; you can’t simply just show up and expect a consultation.
During your first consultation (which is covered by OHIP), your doctor will ask you a ton of questions to try and figure out if there are any obvious issues to address first. A misconception about infertility is that it’s all female factor, however, there can be male factor issues at play, a combination of both or in some cases the infertility is unexplained.
To try and determine the reason you will be required to do a few tests e.g. blood work, ultrasounds, semen analysis, and other procedures to check the uterus and ovaries which aren’t all covered by OHIP. Before you do the tests, make sure you’re comfortable with your doctor otherwise ask your family doctor for another referral.
At this time, your doctor may recommend certain vitamins for both partners. Again, these aren’t expensive, but they will certainly add up over time.
Depending on the results of the test, you may require additional procedures (which you’ll need to pay for). Those additional procedures may require you to take even more drugs (which obviously aren’t free). For perspective, at this time, my wife and I were already out a few hundred dollars.
Getting started with your treatments
With all the results in, your doctor will be able to recommend you the next course of action. If everything appears normal, it’s a pretty simple process. But, if the tests showed something else that may affect your ability to get pregnant; that may require attention first.
Assuming everything is “fine,” your doctor will most likely recommend you try Intrauterine insemination (IUI) first which is less invasive compared to IVF. I won’t go into the details of IUI (you can Google that), but I can confirm that it’s significantly cheaper than IVF. Of course, you also need to add in the cost of drugs which are more expensive than the actual procedure.
The chances of being successful with IUI are lower than IVF, but since it’s less invasive and cheaper; it’s highly recommended if you’re a candidate. You get charged for every IUI procedure (about $500) in addition to drugs if required. You can technically do it as many times as you want, but doctors usually recommend trying three times before moving onto IVF.
Before your IUI treatments, your clinic will recommend you attend one of their IUI orientations. This session will go over what to expect, but almost always the first question is how much does it cost? I’ve already told you what to expect above, but during our session, we had couples break down in tears once they heard how much money they would need to spend.
You may need a support group
At this time, I want to remind anyone who’s struggling with conceiving that you’re not alone. It’s a very normal thing and it affects more people than you realize. You will run into a ton of idiots (sometimes family) who don’t understand (or don’t know) what you’re dealing with. It’s best to find a support group if you need that extra support and a safe place where you won’t feel judged. There are many out there that are free to attend if you do your research, and if you prefer individual counselling, sometimes benefits will cover it so look into it. We had great support with informedfertility.ca.
As a male, it was pretty easy for me to dodge questions about having kids, but at the same time, I did get annoyed whenever someone would just assume you’re going to or not going to have kids. I would write a post about RESPs or about the cost of having children and people would just assume I’m having a kid (and start asking about it). My wife had to deal with much more crap than I did.
It’s also okay to hate on everyone (within reason). I couldn’t help but want to hate people who appeared to have the perfect lives. Oh, you got pregnant by accident or on your first try? That’s Great! Excuse me while I cry in a corner. We never had to attend any baby showers during this time, but it’s something we had planned on avoiding if it came up.
The cost of IVF and what to expect
If you do plan and need to move onto IVF later on you will need to meet with your specialist again and in our case, we were provided with an online orientation to understand the steps and costs involved. You may also need to do some more repeat tests as a good length of time has likely elapsed since you did your initial tests, it could be as far out as a year ago.
There are also unexpected complications that can arise along the way when undergoing any infertility treatment which incurs more costs. For instance, unexpected cycle cancellations result in lost money on wasted drugs and when you’re ready to resume again you’ll be purchasing those same drugs all over again. There is also time off to consider for procedures and upon a successful IVF completion, some doctors recommend taking 5 days off which for some people, taking time off work will cost them money.
Now that we were in full IVF mode, this is where things started to get expensive. To prepare for the retrieval process, my wife had to buy more drugs that were not cheap. At this stage, she was on quite a few pills and daily injections which is normal for anyone going through IVF. The actual retrieval process cost us $9,100 which included admin fees, sperm washing and the procedure. We were hit with an additional cost for frozen embryo storage due to an unexpected IVF complication. Separate to the retrieval you will then need to pay for the transfer which is when they put the embryo(s) back in you, which cost us $1,750.
How many embryos taken from your eggs and sperm, and actually make it to the stage where they can be put back varies per cycle, but for the argument of this article, I’m going to assume three embryos in one IVF cycle (for reference, we had less than that). Every time you do the IVF procedure, you’re paying for it. If you run out of embryos, you’re going to need to pay that massive fee again and start all over. Hopefully, you’re successful with the first batch of embryo(s) since your cost at this time will be around $12,000 – $18,000. Remember there is also the risk that none of your eggs and sperm will make viable embryos.
There are also a lot of add-on options like embryo genetic testing and other procedures before your IVF transfer in an effort to help your chances, however as far as I know these aren’t all scientifically proven so we opted out.
Assuming, you’re successful, you will still need to factor in a few extra costs. Since it was an IVF baby, your doctor will most likely recommend you keep taking a few drugs. It’s also recommended you do a few extra tests such as the Harmony test (at a cost of $500) just to make sure your baby is healthy. There are also other options that OHIP will cover if you’re 35 and over and don’t want to pay out of pocket.
The Province of Ontario pays for fertility treatments
Ontario residents with a valid OHIP card are eligible for Ontario’s Fertility Program. To qualify for the one-time cycle per lifetime for IVF, women must be under the age of 43. You also must be recommended by your healthcare provider to ensure IVF is appropriate for you. If you live in a different province, you’ll need to check what fertility benefits are available to you.
The program covers the following (taken right from the Health Ontario website)
- Artificial insemination (AI), including intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
- One in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle per eligible patient per lifetime, including:
- The one-at-a-time transfer of all viable embryos to allow for the possibility of multiple chances for pregnancy
- One additional funded IVF cycle, if acting as a surrogate. This can occur either before or after receiving a funded IVF cycle for the purpose of building your own family
- One fertility preservation (FP) cycle, including sperm and egg freezing for medical reasons, per eligible patient per lifetime.
Obviously, most people are interested in taking advantage of IVF since it cost the most but note that this government program does not include the cost of drugs. As you’ve seen from my above estimates, you still be on the hook for about $5,000.
Some people ask, why not just go for the free stuff? If you elect to go for the sponsored method, you’re put into a queue where the wait is about 12 months (at least it was when we were trying in early 2016).
If you can afford the treatments, you’re better off paying for it so you don’t have to wait. Alternatively, you can take part in the program if you’re starting to run out of funds.
Is IVF worth it?
At the start, people want to know how much does IVF cost? But assuming they’re successful, they say that the process is priceless. I can see why people say this, but in reality, there is a hard cost you need to consider.
Some people are willing to spend any amount to get pregnant, and I certainly understand that. But, I’ve also heard of people who have mortgaged their homes, borrowed from their parents, or gone into debt for it. Only you can decide how much you want to spend, but speaking strictly from a financial perspective, going into debt to have a child could cripple you.
What many people don’t factor in is the emotional and physical toll infertility has on couples. Going through this process is very emotional and can put a real strain on relationships or do the opposite and make it stronger. Women will also have to pump their bodies full of drugs which can wreck them physically, emotionally and take away from their social lives since the administration of the drugs requires a strict daily schedule to adhere to.
My wife and I personally had set a cut off date for our fertility treatments. We were fortunate enough to be able to afford treatments, but we had to set a “date” so we could get on with our lives. We knew that if IVF didn’t work, there were other ways for us to become parents, so we had to prepare for that.
Going through infertility and IVF is a very stressful time and there are going to be a lot of insensitive people you come across. As a male, things were relatively easy for me to deal with, but I can imagine what my wife and many women have to go through.
As for how much does IVF cost? We personally spent about $14,000 since we only had to do one IVF procedure and some of our drugs covered. However, going into it, you should budget $20,000 – $25,000. Costs can go up or down depending on the circumstances and what options you decide to do. Don’t give up hope and best of luck to you.