Understanding The Cost of IVF
A Comprehensive Guide by ARC Fertility
Embarking on the journey of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a significant decision for prospective parents longing to build their families. The cost of IVF in the United States presents a crucial consideration that must be understood and carefully evaluated. This price tag can vary greatly, influenced by factors including:
- Fertility clinic
- Specific treatment requirements
- Additional services
While the average base cost of a single IVF cycle falls between $14,000 and $20,000, this is merely an approximation. The actual expenses may differ. Moreover, additional costs including medications, genetic testing, cryopreservation, and storage fees must be taken into account. For patients who require multiple cycles, the cumulative cost can become considerably higher. In this guide, we will break down the cost of IVF, shedding light on the various factors that contribute to the overall expenses, and explore the potential avenues for managing financial burdens while pursuing the dream of parenthood.
The Cost of Fertility Medications
During an IVF cycle, several medications are typically used to do some or all of the following:
- Stimulate the ovaries
- Promote the development of multiple follicles (each containing an egg)
- Prevent premature ovulation
- Support embryo implantation and development
The specific medications and their dosages may change based on individual needs and the recommendations of the fertility specialist.
The cost of IVF medications can vary significantly depending on the specific medications used, the dosage required, the duration of the stimulation phase, and the clinic location. On average, the medication costs for a single IVF cycle can range from $3,000 to $6,000 per cycle. These are rough estimates, and the actual costs can differ based on individual circumstances, medication choices, and insurance coverage.
Consult with your fertility clinic or healthcare provider to get accurate and up-to-date information regarding the specific medications recommended for your IVF cycle and their associated costs in your particular situation. They can provide you with a more personalized estimate and guide you through the medication process.
Additional IVF Services, Procedures, and Add-Ons
Fertility care providers may offer additional services alongside the standard IVF procedure, each at an additional cost. Some of these services are essential for some patients for IVF to be successful. These could include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for severe male factor infertility or embryo cryopreservation and storage to preserve extra embryos.
Sometimes additional services are used in addition to standard IVF protocols in an attempt to improve pregnancy rates, but without being supported by high-quality evidence. These services have been referred to as “add-ons.” Some examples of “add-ons” include:
- Endometrial scratching
- Endometrial receptivity assay
- Growth hormone
- Assisted hatching
Some services like Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) might be very helpful in some patients but unnecessary in others, so it’s important to note that the availability, effectiveness, and costs of these add-ons can vary depending on the fertility clinic and individual circumstances. Here are some commonly offered additional services that might be completely appropriate and necessary in some IVF patients or might not in others, and so be considered “add-ons”:
ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)
Average cost: $1,000 – $2,500 or more
The key difference between traditional IVF and ICSI is the method of fertilization. In traditional IVF, the sperm and eggs are combined in a dish and the sperm fertilize the eggs on their own. In ICSI, a single sperm is manually injected into each egg.
ICSI is typically recommended in cases of severe male factor infertility, such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology. It can also be used when there are issues with the eggs, such as a thickened zona pellucida or failed fertilization attempts in previous IVF cycles.
Assisted Hatching (AH)
Average cost: $500 – $1,500
Assisted hatching is a technique used in IVF to enhance the chances of successful embryo implantation in the woman’s uterus. It involves creating a small opening or thinning the outer layer of the embryo, known as the zona pellucida, to facilitate the embryo’s hatching at the beginning of the implantation process. It is typically recommended in specific situations, such as advanced maternal age, previous failed IVF attempts, elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), or during a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).
Assisted hatching is not suitable for all IVF patients and should be recommended on a case-by-case basis after a thorough evaluation by a fertility specialist. The procedure carries some risks, including damage to the embryo and an increased chance of multiple pregnancies, which should be discussed with the healthcare provider before making a decision.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
Genetic testing for IVF is an advanced technique used to assess the genetic health of embryos before they are implanted into the uterus. It is important to note that genetic testing for IVF is an optional procedure and not a requirement for all prospective parents undergoing IVF. It is typically recommended in cases where there is a high risk of genetic disorders, or advanced maternal age which increases the likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities.
The cost of Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) varies depending on several factors, including:
- Fertility clinic
- Specific type of PGT
- How many embryos are tested
- Number of genetic disorders being screened
- Additional services or tests included in the package
It’s important to note that the following estimates are general and can vary significantly:
PGT-A for Aneuploidy (formerly PGS)
Average cost: $2,500 to $4,000 per IVF cycle
PGT-A is used to screen embryos for chromosomal abnormalities, such as extra or missing chromosomes (known as aneuploidy). Aneuploidy can lead to failed implantation, miscarriage, or certain genetic disorders (e.g., Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome).
The cost covers the biopsy, genetic analysis, and interpretation of results.
PGT-SR for Chromosomal Structural Rearrangements (formerly PGS)
Average cost: $5,000 to $7,000 per IVF cycle
PGT-SR (PGS) is specifically designed to detect structural abnormalities within individual chromosomes. It is used when one or both parents have known chromosomal rearrangements, such as translocations, inversions, deletions, or insertions. PGT-SR typically has a higher cost than PGT-A due to the additional complexities involved in detecting structural rearrangements within individual chromosomes.
PGT-M for Single Gene Disorders (formerly PGD)
Average cost: $7,000 to $12,000 per IVF cycle
PGT-M (PGD) is used to identify specific genetic disorders or mutations in embryos before implantation. It is typically recommended for prospective parents who carry genetic disorders that they may pass on to their children (e.g., Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s Disease, and Sickle Cell Anemia).
The cost estimate includes the biopsy, genetic analysis focused on the specific genetic condition, and interpretation of the results.
A frozen embryo transfer (FET) is required when preimplantation genetic testing is requested.
After the retrieval of eggs and fertilization with sperm in the laboratory, resulting embryos can be cryopreserved for later frozen embryo transfer (FET) without needing to repeat ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval.
When Is Cryopreservation Needed?
Cryopreservation is primarily performed when more than one high-quality embryo results from an IVF cycle. Almost all embryo transfers should be single embryo transfer (SET) to minimize the risk of a multiple pregnancy which carries significantly increased risks to both mother and babies. Cryopreservation is also needed when preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) is performed because it can take from one to several weeks to get the results of the genetic testing that enables the selection of which embryo to transfer back into the uterus.
Cryopreservation of all embryos (called a freeze-all cycle) can also be performed in situations where it is not desirable to do a fresh embryo transfer. For example, a patient’s progesterone level could be elevated before ovulation, reducing success rates, or if there is a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) from the medications used in the IVF cycle. Freeze-all cycles are also performed when embryos are being stored for later use in the case of impending cancer treatments or for other fertility preservation reasons.
Here are some approximate cost ranges for embryo cryopreservation:
On average, the cost of embryo cryopreservation in an IVF cycle can range from $2,000 to $4,000.
This average cost typically includes the following components:
- Embryo Freezing Procedure: This covers the process of freezing the embryos, which involves specialized techniques and equipment.
- Embryo Storage Fees: Once the embryos are cryopreserved, there are usually annual storage fees to keep them frozen and stored in a secure facility. These fees can range from $500 to $1,000 per year.
- Thawing and Transfer: When you are ready to use the embryos in a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle, there may be additional costs associated with thawing the embryos, clinical management and monitoring of the FET cycle, and transferring the embryo(s) back into the uterus. Some fertility clinics include the cost of FET in their IVF packages.
The Cost of Anesthesia for IVF Egg Retrieval
The cost of anesthesia for IVF egg retrieval can vary depending on the specific anesthesia type, the location, and the fertility clinic or facility. Anesthesia is typically administered during the egg retrieval procedure to minimize any potential discomfort or pain.
Here are some general cost considerations:
- Local Anesthesia: In some cases, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the area around the ovaries, and the cost for this type of anesthesia is usually included as part of the overall IVF procedure cost. It is relatively less expensive compared to general anesthesia. The patient is conscious during the procedure.
- Monitored Anesthesia Care: Commonly, a light anesthesia with intravenous drugs that eliminate pain and awareness is used. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist monitors the delivery of the drugs and an airway, but there is no intubation, and the patient breathes on their own.
- General Anesthesia: General anesthesia involves administering medications that induce a state of unconsciousness during the egg retrieval procedure and requires intubation (a breathing tube). The cost of general anesthesia can vary and may range between $500 to $1,500 or more.
It’s important to note that the cost of anesthesia is often bundled into the base cost of the IVF procedure, including egg retrieval. Therefore, anesthesia may not be listed as a separate itemized cost.
Additional IVF Procedures and Costs
IVF costs can vary depending on additional services or circumstances involved. Here’s an overview of some of the additional costs associated with certain aspects of IVF:
- Egg Donation: If an individual or couple requires donor eggs, there will be costs associated with recruiting and compensating a donor that are passed on to the person who pays for the eggs. Eggs are commonly purchased from a frozen egg bank. The cost of egg donation can range from $20,000 – $45,000 or more, which typically includes the donor’s compensation, medical screening, medications, and the egg retrieval procedure.
- Sperm Donation: When donor sperm is needed for the IVF process, the cost can vary, and includes sperm donor recruitment, screening, processing, and storage. These are paid by the sperm bank and then passed on to those who purchase the sperm. On average, the cost of donor sperm can range from $400 – $2,500 or more.
Gestational Surrogacy Costs
Gestational surrogacy is a complex and highly individualized process, and costs can vary significantly depending on factors like location, specific arrangements, legal considerations, agency fees, medical expenses, and compensation for the surrogate. On average, the cost of gestational surrogacy in the United States can range from $100,000 to $200,000 or more.
Here are some of the common expenses associated with gestational surrogacy:
- Agency Fees: Many prospective parents choose to work with surrogacy agencies to help facilitate the process. These agencies provide services such as matching intended parents with a surrogate, conducting background checks and screenings, coordinating legal and medical processes, and providing support throughout the journey. Agency fees can range from $15,000 to $30,000 or more.
- Surrogate Compensation and Expenses: Surrogates are typically compensated for their time, effort, and the physical demands of carrying a pregnancy. Compensation for surrogates can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and any potential additional expenses they may have. Surrogate compensation can range from $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
- Legal and Administrative Fees: Gestational surrogacy involves complex legal processes, including drafting and reviewing contracts, establishing parental rights, and addressing any legal requirements specific to the state or country involved. Legal and administrative fees can vary but are generally $5,000 or more.
- Medical Expenses: Medical expenses can include fertility treatments, fertility medications, embryo transfer procedures, and comprehensive prenatal care for the surrogate throughout the pregnancy. These expenses can range from $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
- Insurance and Medical Risk Management: Depending on the surrogate’s insurance coverage and its specific requirements, intended parents may need to obtain additional insurance or medical risk management policies. The cost for these policies can vary significantly.
It is important to consult with surrogacy agencies, fertility clinics, and legal professionals who specialize in surrogacy to get a more accurate estimate of the costs associated with gestational surrogacy in your specific situation.
Health Insurance and Employer-Provided Fertility Benefits and Family-Forming Benefits
Health insurance coverage for IVF varies by insurance provider and policy. In many cases, health insurance plans do not offer comprehensive coverage for IVF treatments. Some insurance plans may provide partial coverage, while others may exclude it altogether. It’s essential to review your specific insurance policy or contact your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage for IVF.
Employer-provided fertility benefits are a valuable resource for prospective parents seeking fertility treatments, including IVF and related services. These benefits are designed to assist employees in managing the financial burden associated with infertility and assisted reproductive technologies.
Employers offering fertility benefits may cover various aspects of fertility treatment, such as diagnostic tests, medications, IVF procedures, egg and sperm freezing, embryo adoption, and even gestational surrogacy arrangements. The extent of coverage may vary depending on the specific benefits package provided by each employer. It is recommended to inquire with the HR department or benefits manager at your workplace to understand the available options.
While insurance coverage and employee fertility benefits for IVF may be limited, individuals and families can explore fertility-specific financing programs.
IVF Loans and Fertility Financing
The cost of IVF can be significant, often making it unaffordable for many prospective parents seeking fertility treatment. With a single cycle of IVF costing thousands of dollars, along with additional expenses for medications and related procedures, the financial burden can be overwhelming. Fertility financing options are available to help mitigate the costs through affordable payment plans. These programs provide loans specifically tailored for fertility treatments, allowing individuals to manage costs through affordable monthly payments.
ARC Fertility Affordable Options
ARC Fertility offers comprehensive financing options specifically designed to help prospective parents afford IVF and other fertility treatments. Through their program, individuals can access loans tailored to fertility treatments, allowing them to spread the expenses over manageable monthly payments. These financing options offer flexibility and convenience, enabling individuals to pursue the fertility care they need without undue financial strain.
Discounted IVF Packages and Fertility Medications
In addition to financing, ARC Fertility provides discounted IVF packages and medications when individuals choose a doctor or clinic within the ARC Network. This network comprises a wide range of board-certified fertility specialists across the United States, ensuring individuals everywhere have access to high-quality care and expertise. By utilizing the ARC Network, individuals can benefit from discounted rates for IVF treatments and medications, helping to reduce the overall cost of their fertility journey.
The ARC Network
With ARC Fertility’s financing options and discounted packages, prospective parents can pursue IVF with greater affordability and confidence. The program aims to alleviate the financial burden associated with fertility treatments, making it more accessible for those seeking to build their families. By selecting treatment at a fertility clinic within the ARC Network, individuals can access discounted rates and specialized care, ensuring they receive the best possible support throughout their fertility treatment process.