Published by Vanessa Green
March 22, 2023
Published byVanessa Green
March 22, 2023
Before I decided to have children, the entire concept of fertility treatments was foreign to me. Sure, I’d heard the term IVF thrown around, and I had a vague idea of what it involved.
But it wasn’t until I experienced infertility while trying for my second child that I realized just how incredibly overwhelming, complex and challenging fertility care truly was.
I know I am luckier than most that I was able to have my first child, now a mischievous 3-year-old, easily and without much medical intervention. But when my husband and I started trying for another child 18 months after our son was born, we found this road a lot bumpier.
What my husband and I were experiencing is called ‘secondary infertility’, which is the inability to conceive a baby despite having at least one child. It’s as common as primary infertility and affects nearly 1 in 8 couples.
I knew my maternal age had a lot to do with it. I was almost 36 when we started trying to conceive baby number two, which pushed me over the threshold of 35 into Geriatric Pregnancy territory (now more thoughtfully referred to as Advanced Maternal Age).
After speaking to many friends and contacts, I started to realize just how prevalent both primary and secondary infertility was amongst women my age and how many couples and individuals it’s affected in different ways.
So after months of negative pregnancy tests, tears, frustration, emotional stress and feelings of hopelessness, we were referred to a fertility clinic by our family doctor.
Our fertility diagnosis
I was not prepared for what the next nine months had in store for us: numerous clinic visits, doctor’s appointments, bloodwork, sonograms, ultrasounds, information sessions over Zoom, and endless amounts of paperwork. And we did all of this during COVID, which made the experience infinitely less personal and more stressful.
Every month, I hoped we’d be able to get pregnant naturally, but every month, I only got one line on that white stick. The medical tests that came back revealed that my husband had some health conditions, which was making it more difficult for us to conceive.
Our only option was IVF.
The overwhelming reality of fertility financing
I knew IVF wasn’t cheap. But throughout this process, I hadn’t really had a chance to wrap my head around the actual numbers. To be honest, our clinic wasn’t super transparent with cost estimates. And there are a lot of them.
First off, there’s the cost of the IVF cycle. This cost is fairly standard at around CAD$10,000. However, I’m lucky enough to live in Ontario, Canada, one of the only provinces in the country that offers government funding for IVF treatments.
Unfortunately, the waitlist for government-funded IVF at my clinic was 18 months. Other clinics I called had even longer wait lists, some up to 4 years. If you’re already considered a ‘geriatric mom’, you probably can’t wait years to start your treatment, so you’ll likely have to pay for this expense out of pocket. Luckily, we eventually found a clinic with no wait list for government-funded IVF. But we were still on the hook for the other costs.
Drugs are a separate cost and not covered by government funding. Fertility drugs can cost upwards of $5,000 and as much as $7,000. My husband’s health insurance only covered a small portion of the drugs. Many employer health benefit plans avoid covering fertility drugs due to their high cost.
Additional IVF expenses
And don’t forget all the other costs associated with fertility treatment: PGT embryo testing (costing $2,000 $3,000 or more), cryopreservation (freezing eggs, sperm or embryos) or surgical fertility treatments like laparoscopy.
The costs just seem to mount and mount. The ability to pay for them felt out of reach. And my husband and I felt alone – like there was no one there to help us through the most stressful and often confusing part of this whole process.