How Much Does IVF Cost? Protocols & Tips for Cheaper IVF

How Much Does IVF Cost? Protocols & Tips for Cheaper IVF

You are looking for affordable IVF but you realize that IVF costs are very high? Here are some simple tips that could save you a lot of money in savings while improving your IVF success.

There is no doubt that IVF is the best fertility treatment with the highest pregnancy rate. However, IVF is also the most expensive fertility treatment. There are ways that you can reduce some IVF costs and make it more affordable.

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Breakdown of IVF costs

First, let's talk about the different components that make up the cost for IVF. You have IVF medications, monitoring, the IVF egg retrieval, the stuff that's done in the laboratory and then the IVF transfer.

IVF medications

There are several different types of medications used in the process of stimulating the ovaries before the egg retrieval. The most expensive of these medications are called gonadotropins. These are the medications that contain the hormones FSH or LH. Some of the brands that are commonly used include: Follistim, Gonal-F and Menopur. Both Follistim and Gonal-F contain FSH and serve as the primary hormone to stimulate the ovaries.

Menopur - an expensive choice

Some doctors, however, like to add Menopur. Menopur contains both FSH and LH. Doctors who like Menopur use it for the added LH but this is an expensive choice. The daily cost for an average 150 international unit dose of Menopur is $180 per day.

Over the course of an average 10 days stimulation this adds nearly $2,000 to your medication costs.

Low dose hCG Protocol - A better choice

A less expensive alternative, is called the low dose hCG protocol. hCG and LH are very similar hormones. You can use hCG in place of LH and it actually works better because it lasts longer in the body.

One brand of hCG called Pregnyl costs about 110 dollars for one bottle. But that one bottle will last you for the entire stimulation. So this one change to your protocol not only works better, but can save you about $1,700 in medication costs by not having to use Menopur.

But wait - there's more! hCG is roughly six times more potent than FSH. So once the FSH has started your follicles growing, and you start hCG, you can reduce the dose of FSH or in some cases stop it completely.

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How much does this save you? If we use an average IVF dose of FSH of 300 international units per day, a 600 international unit cartridge of Follistim would last you two days and cost about $620. Over a ten day stimulation, that's about $3,100. But if you start low dose hCG, by say the sixth day and reduce the dose of FSH to 75, you would save another $1,300 in medication cost.

If you're a patient who doesn't respond well to fertility medication which fertility doctors call a poor responder, this change can save you several thousand dollars. Just think what you could do with all of that extra money...

IVF laboratory costs

How about the IVF laboratory? Do you know that there are two different ways that eggs can be fertilized with sperm?

In the first method, sperm are placed in the lab dish near the egg. This is called standard insemination.

The second method involves injecting a sperm directly into an egg. This technique is called ICSI, which stands for Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection. Most IVF centers will charge an extra $1200 to $2000 dollars to do ICSI.

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Standard IVF insemination vs ICSI

So should you pay the extra amount?

If you're a couple with a male factor, like low sperm counts, poor motility or an abnormal Cap-Score or a history of failed fertilization, then you should absolutely spend the money to have ICSI.

But what if you aren't in one of these groups?

First, it's important to understand that pregnancy rates with ICSI are not any better than with standard insemination. ICSI is just a tool to get the eggs fertilized. If you have a normal semen analysis and Cap-Score and you use standard insemination, the risk that none of the eggs will fertilize is somewhere around 5 to 15%.

In other words, there is a 5 to 15% chance you could end up with zero embryos. If that risk is acceptable to you, then you should discuss standard insemination with your doctor.

IVF insurance coverage

What would really be great is if you had medical insurance that covered the cost of IVF. In the United States, there are several states that require insurance coverage for IVF. The best two states for IVF coverage are Illinois and Massachusetts.

Across the world, there are some countries that pay for IVF as part of their national health services, like the U.K.

But there are often restrictions. In Ontario, Canada, for example, you can get one cycle of IVF paid for, but you are still responsible for the medication costs.

Don't forget to increase your chances of getting pregnant by taking natural fertility supplements. They are affordable and non-invasive.