At a Glance
The journey to parenthood is a deeply personal one, and for many families, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a prominent — yet incredibly expensive — option. Today, the cost of raising a child is higher than ever, so for couples considering IVF, it’s worth taking a closer look at the costs, success rates, and financial planning involved in this life-changing decision. Is IVF worth the financial investment in the current economic landscape?
Babies born in 2019 were from ART (Assistant Reproductive Technology) cycles, meaning a little over 2% of babies born in 2019 were born through the help of ART.
The cost of IVF
A single IVF cycle — defined by The Mayo Clinic as ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer — can range anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, according to Forbes. This wide cost range depends on where the procedures are performed and the exact needs of each individual.
IVF typically begins with hormone injections over the course of 8 to 12 days to stimulate egg production. Medications (including hormone injections) alone for IVF can account for up to 35% of the total charges — and sometimes aren’t even included in the initial estimate — but that’s only part of the whole financial picture. During this time, regular bloodwork and ultrasounds are conducted to monitor things like uterine lining thickness and egg maturity.
Once the eggs are ready, there is a medical procedure done to harvest the eggs. Then, the harvested eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, which results in embryos. After about five or six days, these embryos are ready for transfer into the patient’s uterus — another medical procedure.
The process can be extended even further if preimplantation genetic testing is performed, which adds several more weeks to the timeline, and also adds to the cost.
When pricing IVF at fertility clinics in the United States, you can expect to be quoted between $10,000 to $15,000 for one cycle as described above, not including medications, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Many parts of the IVF process are treated as add-ons to the base fee — labs, testing, and even the necessary medications — which may lead to a total cost ranging from $15,000 to $30,000, again depending on where you go and what they include.
It’s for this exact reason that some couples choose to seek care outside of the U.S. where costs are considerably lower. One report from Axios breaks down the cost of IVF care in other countries including:
Mexico: $5,800 without medication
Columbia: $7,000 plus $2,000 for medication
These costs do not, however, take into account the cost of travel and accommodations abroad.
Clinic reputation and location also play pivotal roles in determining costs. Renowned clinics in metropolitan areas of the U.S. are likely to charge more than smaller, less prestigious ones. Additional services like pre-implantation genetic testing or egg freezing (when the embryos aren’t created and transferred right away) also increase expenses, adding to the variability of costs for prospective parents to consider.
IVF success rates and financial implications
IVF success rates are influenced by factors like age, the cause of infertility, and clinic expertise. On average, according to Forbes, IVF success rates hover around 30% per cycle. However, success rates increase for younger individuals and decrease with age. So, it’s important for couples to think ahead about whether or not they are comfortable with risking the thousands of dollars they will invest in IVF when it may not even work.
The financial implications of IVF go beyond the initial cost — time off of work, travel to and from the facility, and more can all be factored in. Unsuccessful attempts can be emotionally draining and lead to pursuing multiple cycles, compounding the expenses. It’s important to consider that the emotional toll of subsequent rounds of IVF, more time off work, increasing costs, inflation, and more can heavily weigh on couples facing these decisions.
With each unsuccessful attempt comes more money spent. Even for couples who use their savings to pay for IVF, the pressure to undergo another round after an unsuccessful attempt could lead to taking on unwanted debt to fund another try. If couples are funding every IVF with borrowed funds, this would mean more debt with each round.
If you took out multiple personal loans and experienced medical debt after multiple rounds of IVF, consider consolidating the loans to pay down the debt faster.
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A real couple who went through IVF and what they have to say
LGBTQ couples can face significant hurdles when it comes to having a family. One big barrier: the cost. According to reporting from USA Today, state laws and insurance policy restrictions can make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ couples to receive fertility coverage.
While efforts are being made to expand fertility coverage to the LGBTQ+ community, challenges persist, and cost remains at the top of the list. That’s part of the reason why companies like Future Family, an organization that offers fertility financing alongside professional support and guidance, exist.
Lauren Armstrong spoke to Credello about the experience she and her wife Natalie went through when they decided to undergo IVF. Together since 2012 and married in 2018, when the couple decided to have a child, they knew they wanted Lauren to be the carrier. “We weren’t really focused on children at the beginning of our marriage, but it’s something that’s kind of always been at the back of our minds,” Lauren said.
Prior to the beginning of the 2020 Covid pandemic, they had started to discuss how they would go about having a baby. The couple always knew that Lauren would carry their child when the time was right, but she faced severe complications following a Covid infection that put their baby talk on hold. In 2022, Lauren was finally healthy enough to start the IVF process.
Living about 20 miles south of Atlanta, the couple found their preferred clinic, Reproductive Biology Associates of Atlanta, through an online search. “They’re amazing,” Lauren noted.
After initial testing revealed that Lauren was overall very healthy and her egg reserves were strong, the couple decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI is a less invasive and more cost effective procedure where sperm is placed directly into the uterus using a speculum versus surgically removing the eggs and fertilizing them outside of the body before inserting them back into the uterus through IVF. However, at age 38, IUI only had a 5-10% chance to work for Lauren.
The couple funded three IUI rounds and included medications with a combination of insurance (for one part of the medication that was covered) and their savings, spending about $4,000 total, without success. Their next step would be IVF, but they knew that they did not have the resources to fully fund this without a loan.
Though Lauren is covered by Natalie’s health insurance from her job as a teacher, the coverage does not extend fully to fertility treatments. Lauren was the co-director of a preschool and kindergarten prior to it shutting down earlier this year and now works as a part time financial controller. The couple brings in right at around $100,000 combined annually, and though they did have credit card debt, they worked to pay that off prior to starting their fertility journey.
“I didn’t even know that fertility loans existed until we started doing some research,” Lauren explained. “I figured it was just probably going to be a personal loan or something like that, but in doing our research we found Future Family.”
Presently, their only debt in addition to their fertility loan is one car loan, which is actually set to be paid off near the end of 2023. “Fortunately for us, we don’t have a lot of debt that we have to combat with this other loan that we took on,” Lauren explained, noting that when they decided to finance IVF, that they “were in a decent place financially.”
They budgeted for payments between $600-$700 per month (though Lauren noted that “$700 would have been pushing it” for them) but were surprised to learn that they would pay just $503 per month to finance what they needed and at an interest rate they were very comfortable with. The grand total for their IVF loan is approximately $23,000.
“The number did have a big impact, but after learning about their company and all of the benefits you get with going with them — that you’re not just a loan number to this company, they actually give you help and a fertility coach and all sorts of other things — it just completely made the most sense,” she said.
The couple only had to do one egg retrieval, which yielded 18 eggs, 12 of which were mature enough to try to fertilize, and eight did fertilize. They wanted to do a frozen embryo transfer so that genetic testing could be done, which meant that only 3 embryos made it to the final stage. They did a frozen egg transfer in March 2023 and at the time we spoke to her, Lauren was nearly 32 weeks pregnant.
“It’s one of those things where you really have to sit down and figure out what your priorities are, and you know, you don’t want to be completely under water and take on another loan,” Lauren said. “Plus, if it all works out, kids cost money, so we definitely wanted to be as set as we could be financially before we really got into this because we knew it was going to be expensive.”
Though it’s an added expense of around $2,000, Lauren does recommend the genetic testing for other couples weighing the cost of everything that’s offered during IVF treatment. “That potentially saves a lot of heartache with going through a miscarriage or birth abnormalities, so we definitely would recommend that.” Another perk? The testing allows couples to learn the gender of their embryos, which the Armstrongs wanted to know. “For our peace of mind, that just made us feel better.” Plus, Lauren added, “If you’re going ahead and you’re spending all of this money, what’s $2,000 more?”
Looking back at the process from where they are now, Lauren says that if they could change anything, it would be to not have gone through the three IUI rounds. “Because they didn’t work and that would’ve saved that portion of money, but I mean, we didn’t know and it would’ve hung over our heads had we not tried it,” she explained, though was also quick to note that they don’t have any regrets.
Financial planning for IVF and parenting
There are several strategies that couples can employ to pay for IVF. It takes planning, but there are options to consider including:
- Savings accounts: Consider setting up a dedicated savings account specifically for IVF. Regular contributions can help ease the financial pressure.
- Health insurance coverage: Some insurance policies may partially cover the expenses, reducing the financial burden. However, the extent of coverage varies. While some large employers have started offering health plans that cover IVF treatment, elective egg freezing is less commonly covered. Only one state, New York, requires Medicaid coverage of fertility treatment, and even then, it only covers up to three cycles of fertility medication, according to Axios.
- Loan options: Perspective parents can explore loan options specifically designed for medical expenses, or look into personal loans to finance their fertility needs. There are even companies like Future Family which serve IVF clients specifically and can help tailor fertility specialist package loans to each family’s individual needs. These services are often very personalized and can also offer a more structured way to manage the cost over time, much like financing a vehicle or a home.
- IVF grants: Fertility grants, offering amounts typically ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, are also available through various organizations to provide valuable assistance for those who qualify. Many grants are awarded on a limited basis, with some organizations granting them only once or twice per year, so this route does take a fair amount of planning and research. The National Infertility Association offers a list of available grant opportunities on their website.
- Credit cards: Of course, relying on credit cards for IVF treatment costs is an option that some families choose to explore. With rewards and perks in play, 0% APR offers, and possible low interest rates, it’s a financing choice that some couples may decide to use.
Beyond the IVF procedure itself, there are ongoing expenses related to parenting, and with the cost of living for Americans rising quickly, it’s important for potential parents considering IVF to think seriously about their financial wellness as they plan for future children.
To help ease the overall financial burden, families can start planning for childcare and education expenses early. Establishing a budget can also help ensure you’re financially prepared for your child’s future. And while you’re budgeting, consider long-term savings and insurance policies to secure your child’s financial future. When raising kids in today’s economy, every dollar matters.
So, with all of this in mind, is IVF worth the financial investment? The truth is the answer to that question is multifaceted and deeply personal. The financial investment in IVF is without a doubt significant, but it can lead to the most precious reward — a loving family. As highlighted by Lauren and Natalie’s story, while the costs of IVF can be substantial, there are ways to mitigate the financial burden, and the end results are worth it. To parents like Lauren and Natalie, worth transcends dollars and cents and is instead measured in the hope, joy, and love their baby girl will bring to their family.