In 2021, the average cost of one cycle of IVF without insurance was between $15,000 and $30,000. The price variation is due to location and the patient’s specific needs. Many patients will require multiple cycles (up to 5-6) before they have a child, so IVF can cost up to $180,000. Assisted reproductive techniques, including IVF, can be costly for many couples and individuals.
Although it is considered a somewhat taboo topic, infertility is a very common problem, affecting 10-15% of couples of reproductive age. IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a process to help people conceive a child. IVF involves many complicated processes, but an IVF cycle can be simplified into the following steps:
- Testing on each member of the couple to understand exactly what the cycle will entail. Testing may include hormone panels on both members of the couple, sperm analysis, ultrasounds, and physical examinations, depending on the situation.
- If possible, a partner who menstruates will undergo egg stimulation so their eggs can be removed for fertilization. If this is not possible, the couple can use an egg donor. Multiple eggs are needed to improve the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy.
- The eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory.
- The fertilized embryos are tested for genetic issues, and the healthiest embryo is selected.
- The embryo is returned to the uterus of the person who will carry the pregnancy.
- If successful, the embryo implants, and pregnancy occur.
While this explains the basic process of IVF, there may be other steps or procedures involved, which will depend on the reason the individual or couple is undergoing IVF. There are a number of reasons why an individual or couple might need to use IVF, including:
- Male factor infertility: This occurs in over 50% of couples with infertility. Common causes include abnormal or low sperm production or a blockage in the passageway through which the sperm travel.
- Female factor infertility: This is the case in 33% of infertility. Common causes include egg production and release issues, anatomy issues, endometriosis (a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other places, commonly the ovaries), and other health problems.
The Cost of IVF
The costs of IVF include financial, health, and wellbeing costs. While the financial cost of IVF is very high, the often-overlooked costs of this process include the toll it takes on people's health and wellbeing.
Some insurance providers cover the cost of IVF but not all. Additionally, some providers will partially cover some or all of the procedures involved in an IVF cycle. The financial burden of a self-paid IVF cycle can be broken down as follows (figures from Chelsea Fertility, an IVF facility in New York):
Detailed Costs of IVF
|Medications||Up to $6,000|
|Total||Up to $19,750 for one cycle|
There may be additional costs during an IVF cycle depending on necessary procedures. The IVF clinic will charge additional fees for frozen embryo transfer, egg freezing, and genetic screening. These services depend on the patient’s needs and requests.
The cost of IVF will also vary based on your location. While some states, such as California, have legal provisions requiring insurance carriers to cover IVF, others have lesser requirements. For example, in Texas, insurance companies are required to let employers know that infertility coverage is available. Still, employers are not required to include these services as part of their employee health plan.
States With Infertility Coverage Requirements for Health Insurance
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Offsetting the Cost of IVF
While insurance coverage may vary, there are a few ways you can lower, offset, or cover the cost of IVF treatments.
- Fertility specialist loans: These loans usually come from lenders who work directly with the clinic, and will pay your loan directly to the IVF facility. An application fee and credit check are usually required.
- Credit union loans: This type of loan goes directly to you and is usually best suited to people with a fair or low credit score.
- Online personal loan: This type of loan can be applied for online through a variety of private companies and banks, and many people will pre-qualify. However, this type of loan is expensive and may have a high-interest rate, so use this option with caution.
- Insurance: Speak to your provider before going to the IVF clinic. See if they cover IVF, and if not, try to fund your treatment or make a financial plan to avoid paying entirely out of pocket.
- IVF grants: Organizations and treatment centers that offer grants for qualifying patients seeking fertility treatment. One example is the CNY grant, which will provide eligible individuals with the funding for one cycle of IVF. These grants do not need to be repaid and may cover some or all of your treatment.
- Multiple cycles: Some facilities offer discounts if you pay upfront for multiple cycles, usually at a lower fee. Ask the clinic if they have this option, or negotiate one for yourself.
There are other options to access IVF at a lower cost. Some families will even choose to relocate or travel to a place where IVF is less costly or has better insurance coverage.
The cost of IVF is more than just financial - there are also serious health risks associated with the procedure. The medications used for IVF can cause mild reactions including the following:
- Bruising and soreness at the injection site
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild allergic reactions
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings and fatigue
However, the most serious adverse reaction leads to a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This occurs when a large amount of fluid builds up in the abdomen and sometimes the lungs. In severe cases, this can cause blood clots and even kidney failure which can lead to hospitalization and, in rare cases, death. Other risks include infection and mild pain due to egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures.
Pregnancy resulting from IVF has a higher risk. People who have conceived their children via IVF are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy (ie twins or triplets), which is inherently risky. The risk of birth defects is also slightly higher for people who have conceived using IVF.
Mental Health Cost
An often underestimated cost of IVF is the mental health toll it can take on couples and individuals. The IVF process has been shown to increase the risk of anxiety, stress and depression, especially after a failed cycle. There are also a number of issues associated with the perceived stigma of not being able to conceive, which may lead to anger, frustration, sexual dysfunction, and relationship problems.
In addition to causing mental strife for the individuals experiencing infertility, the mental health burdens may also be further linked to an inability to conceive; studies have shown that depression is linked to problems with reproductive functioning.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The IVF process is complicated, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the information available online. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions about IVF to help you better understand the process.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected IVF costs?
The Covid-19 pandemic has not affected the cost of IVF in a financial sense. However, due to the pandemic, many clinics have closed their doors to patients, leaving many people understandably upset and at a loss of what to do next. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing, many clinics have returned to normal functioning, albeit with some changes, including not allowing partners to attend visits.
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What can I do to avoid the mental health burdens commonly caused by IVF?
Group-style cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and support groups can decrease the stress and mood symptoms associated with going through IVF treatments. Other studies have found these treatments to also decrease anxiety, depression, and anger.
Another helpful tool for couples to consider is couple’s counselling during IVF. Couple’s counselling has been shown to both lower anxiety and depression, as well as increase the success rate of the IVF process. A final consideration is medication such as antidepressants. While many women are fearful that these medications may impact the success of their IVF and pregnancy, this is not the case, and many antidepressants can be safely taken during pregnancy. Be sure to talk to your provider if you are considering this option.
When is it time to see an IVF specialist?
Most heterosexual couples will conceive within 6 months of trying. That being said, younger women (those under 35) can usually wait 12 months before seeking professional help. Other reasons to see a specialist include having had 3 or more miscarriages, irregular periods, a history of STIs, or if the male partner has trouble achieving or maintaining an erection.
What is egg freezing and who should consider it?
Egg freezing is a process used to preserve fertility and allow individuals to become pregnant at a later date. In genetic females, eggs have a certain amount of time before they will die off. In order to maintain fertility until a later date, the eggs can be collected using a minor surgical procedure and preserved until a later time. There are myriad reasons for this, including:
- Medical illnesses requiring treatment that affect future fertility (for example radiation for cancer)
- Delaying pregnancy until a later time
- Undergoing IVF
Another option people may choose to utilize is embryo freezing, in which an egg that has been fertilized with a sperm to form an embryo is frozen, rather than just the egg itself.
IVF can be costly - between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on what procedures you need and where you seek care. To help pay for IVF, consider either taking a loan, receiving a grant, or negotiating the price with your insurance. The process of undergoing IVF can also impact your physical and mental health, so be sure to talk to an experienced professional if you are considering IVF.
If you’re worried about paying for IVF, Mira can help you offset other health costs. For just $45 per month, Mira gives you access to low-cost lab testing, urgent care visits, virtual mental health services, and discounts on prescriptions and gym memberships. Try Mira today and start saving!
Dvora is a recent medical graduate and current MPH student who is passionate about women’s health and health equity. She hopes to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is excited to join the Mira team in empowering people through healthcare. In her spare time she enjoys exercise, reading and spending time with her family and her dog, Dash.