Before we talk numbers here on how much IVF costs, I’m going to share a bit of my own experience with IVF. If you prefer to just see the numbers, you can skip to the next heading for those.
About 2 months after our son M was born, I told Danny I was ready for more babies. I know that sounds a little crazy but it’s really how I felt! I love being a mom and always imagined having a big family. A year passed, and no baby came. That didn’t worry us too much, I was still breast feeding, Danny was still in dental school, and I was really just getting started in my career as a lawyer. We had just gotten started paying off debt. But then another year passed. And then one more. And then it had been a little over 3 years and still no baby came. Danny and I saw a few doctors but no one could really give us a good explanation for why no more babies were coming, and everyone kept recommending IVF. I was completely freaked out by IVF. I kept hearing phrases like “harvesting your eggs” and talk about how many shots I’d have to take and get put under anesthesia and how much IVF costs and all these things that were hard to wrap my mind around.
I can’t even begin to describe the darkness and emptiness that is infertility. It’s lonely and crushing and overbearing and a feeling of complete lack of control over your life. It’s such a strange thing to want something so bad that you know is going to deprive you of all your basic needs– sleep, food, sometimes even mental health. And still, that desire consumes you and it’s hard to think about anything else. And it’s a hard thing to share with family or friends. In the first few years, we didn’t really talk about it with anyone– that makes it harder.
When the timing was right and when we found the right doctor (during this time, we were in the middle of making career moves and literally moving across the country), we decided that we wanted to try at least one round of IVF and just see what would happen. We didn’t make that decision lightly and knew it was going to be hard– and it was. We also considered how much IVF costs and were quietly socking money away for it.
It took about four months from the time we made the decision to do it to get started with the egg retrieval, and then after the egg retrieval it was 6 weeks until the actual IVF procedure. So roughly 5 1/2 – 6 months of a bit of agony. The thing about IVF is that you are already so emotional about not being able to get pregnant for so long, and then they pump you full of hormones that make you even crazier. For some parts of IVF, you are going to the doctor every single day for blood or other tests and ultrasounds.
Leading up to the egg retrieval, you do multiple shots in your stomach every day as well as a few bigger shots in your buns. Not the end of the world, but certainly not pleasant. You also have to take oral medication. For me, just remembering to actually take my medicine and do the shots was hard haha.
All of the medicine you take is designed to help your body release more eggs than it ever would naturally do on its own. That way, they can collect more and fertilize more, leaving you with a higher chance of actually getting pregnant. But, this can make your belly swell up as if you were 5 months pregnant and can be pretty dang uncomfortable (it definitely was for me). Once you’ve pumped yourself up full of hormones and everything looks good to go, your doctor will have you take a “trigger” shot (a big dose of the hormone HCG) to make you ovulate, and then they do the retrieval 24-48 hours (ish) later.
Right in the middle of pumping myself full of all these crazy hormones, and just before the trigger shot, I developed a UTI. I WAS SO MAD. I was worried I had just taken all those hormones for nothing and we’d have to start all the way over. Fortunately, I was prescribed an antibiotic and we proceeded as planned.
I was SO freaked out about the HCG shot because it was the first shot I had to do in my bum and the needle was kind of big and the timing of it was really important and it just felt like a lot of pressure. So I nervously drew everything up in the vial, and gave Danny the shot to give to me. In my nervous state, I had drawn up the entire vial of the medication when I was only supposed to do half! Because of that, I developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which is somewhat common and is pretty uncomfortable/miserable.
The day of the egg retrieval came. I went under anesthesia. It was about a 15 minute procedure. Waking up from anesthesia is always a good time, and here’s a video to prove it. 😉
“I want Chick-Fil-A!”
They were able to get 13 eggs from the retrieval which sounded great! Within a couple days though, we found out only 5 were mature enough to be fertilized. A couple more days later, we found out that only 3 of those were actually fertilized. And we later found out that only 2 of those made it to embryos (really blastocysts I think). We were pretty devastated that we went from 13 to only 2 in a short period of time. It started out seeming so great and then we wondered if we were even going to have any embryos at all to transfer. IVF = a lot of high highs and low lows. Fortunately, those 2 embryos held on tight and we were able to do a transfer.
For the IVF part of it, you’re getting shots in the buns with a freaking huge needle every day– but the hardest part for me was the timing. You’re supposed to do them at the same time every day. Just remembering to do them every day was hard for me and my spacey brain! 😉 Lots of women are more tough than me and can do them on their own without it being a big deal. There was one night where Danny wasn’t home to give me a shot so I had to do it myself. The medication (progesterone) is in oil, so when you do the shot, it comes out really slow and can hurt. Danny, being a dentist, is really good at giving shots. I, on the other hand, am not good at giving shots which I learned on this occasion. When I FINALLY was brave enough to give myself the shot, after nervous throwing up once and literally with sweat dripping down my face, I got it in, but couldn’t push hard enough to get the oil to come out! It took forever haha and was traumatizing. I’m not dramatic or anything.
(Danny giving me a progesterone injection)
Since we only had 2 embryos, we decided to go ahead and put both of them in. If you put 2 in (at least at the clinic we went to), I had about a 65% chance of achieving a single pregnancy. The actual IVF transfer was kind of amazing and surreal. You are conscious for all of it, and get to watch your little embryos get placed in your uterus via ultrasound. After that, it’s just a waiting game like a normal person trying to get pregnant. About 10 days after the transfer, we went in for a pregnancy blood test. My HCG levels were through the roof– more than three times as high as they anticipated.
(Just before the IVF transfer! It’s a cute look, I know.)
A week or so later, we went in for an ultrasound and lo and behold, TWINS! Both embryos stuck around. It took me several weeks to accept that we were really having twins– I just didn’t want to get emotionally invested if they weren’t sticking around, and since we’d been trying to get pregnant for so long it just all seemed to good to be true.
Something that I didn’t expect was the fact that you have to continue doing progesterone shots for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, and they are the kind you have to do at the same time every day. That felt like eternity. But it’s a lot easier to take shots when you know you are pregnant, rather than at the beginning when you are wondering whether all of the IVF process was worth it.
We were SO lucky that IVF worked for us on the first try, especially since we didn’t have a lot of embryos to work with (we would have had to go through another egg retrieval instead of just doing another transfer). Not everyone is so lucky, and if you know someone going through IVF, seriously go hug them and bring them chocolate and cry with them. It’s hard and lonely.
(Right after we found out I am pregnant!!)
If you are going through IVF or thinking about it and need someone to talk to, please reach out! I’m happy to answer questions based on my own experience or just cry with you on how frustrating the whole thing is. You are not alone!
HOW MUCH IVF COSTS
On to how much IVF costs– specifically, how much it cost us. I went to an extremely busy clinic in Arizona that is known for its high success rates and low costs. We do not have traditional health insurance. Instead, we use a health share ministry that specifically does not share the cost of IVF/fertility treatment. If you have health insurance, check with them to see what aspects of IVF (if any) they will cover. A lot of insurance companies will at least cover things like your initial consultations and sometimes more.
Even though we didn’t have insurance covering any portion of our IVF and infertility testing, we felt really fortunate to have found this clinic where the doctor really tries to keep his costs fairly low. We were also fortunate to get pregnant on the first try. After reviewing these numbers, it’s not hard to see how these costs can really add up. And for context, the first fertility clinic we sought out would have charged about $20,000 for the same procedures.
Here is exactly what we paid:
Initial Consult: $100. A lot of clinics won’t charge you for an initial consult and or frequently insurance will cover it. Not for us, but check with the clinic you are considering.
Testing: FSH testing, semen analysis, HSG testing, uterus exam with ultrasound $500. My OB only ran one test on us before recommending IVF. The fertility doctor wanted to do a lot more testing to make sure IVF was really our best option before we spent thousands of dollars on it. All of these tests are very common and you can expect to do them before getting IVF, if you haven’t done them already.
Extra Ultrasounds: $200 each. A few days after I had an ultrasound confirming pregnancy, I started bleeding and had to have an additional ultrasound to make sure the twins were doing OK.
Extra Bloodwork or urine testing: $25 each. I got a UTI in the middle of my egg retrieval and had to pay for an extra test that wasn’t covered under my general IVF bill.
Egg Retrieval, Anesthesia, Embryo Transfer, Bloodwork, and some Ultrasounds: $5000
ICSI: $500. In traditional IVF, sperm are placed near an egg in a petri dish– fertilization occurs when one of the sperm penetrates the egg. With ICSI, the sperm is injected into the egg. There are a variety of reasons you might choose to do ICSI, including when you have unexplained infertility like we did.
Medication: $3,800. I honestly could not believe how expensive the medication for IVF was. I highly recommend downloading the GoodRx app! It’s free to use and it saved us literally thousands of dollars on all of the medication.
TOTAL COST = $10,125. That is how much IVF costs on the cheap end. This was our total out of pocket cost. And like I said, we were very fortunate. IVF is not cheap. For us, it was 100% worth it, and even if we hadn’t gotten pregnant, it would have been worth trying for me. I just strongly felt like I wasn’t done having babes yet!
Other costs to consider: In addition to the above costs, there are other costs to consider in your calculation of how much IVF costs. Acupuncture before the transfer, multiple transfers, multiple egg retrievals (which also mean more medication costs), embryo storage. Some doctors recommend getting acupuncture before the IVF transfer. The research seems spotty to me, I personally did not do it, but some people swear by it. You’ll also need to think about whether you are willing to try IVF multiple times if it doesn’t work the first time. And lastly, if you are able to get multiple embryos, they’ll be stored for you at an additional cost.
There are several existing grants out there that you can apply for to get IVF, and frequently people will take out personal loans to pay for it. You can also find clinics who will give you discounted pricing for multiple IVF attempts or who will refund you some of your money if you don’t get pregnant. One clinic we looked at charged $40,000 for 3 IVF attempts and if you didn’t get pregnant, they would refund $20,000.
I hope this gives you a good idea about how much IVF costs. IVF can be very tolling emotionally. It’s not cheap. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. For me, I can say it was worth it. I think if I hadn’t gotten pregnant, it would have still been worth the try. I would want to feel like I did everything I could do. Sometimes the cost of IVF makes that difficult if not impossible. If you have questions about IVF or just need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I know exactly what it feels like to feel alone through that process and I’m so happy to offer any insight if I can.
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