When it comes to family planning, many couples dread the moment when a trip to the doctor is scheduled and a successful pregnancy has yet to occur.
If you’ve run into roadblocks trying to get pregnant, a fertility treatment game plan can keep you safe, sane and solvent on your journey to parenthood. That’s the conclusion reached by many couples looking to start a family. Many couples lay out their future plans that included career-building before starting a family, but as Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
After unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant, many couples turn to a specialist and quickly realize that it can take more than a doctor to prepare themselves for the adventure ahead. If you’ve reached that point—or if you’re just starting your journey toward becoming parents via infertility treatments—this helpful article should make your path to parenthood smoother and less stressful.
How to Find the Right Resources
There’s a chance your regular OB/GYN may have at least one specialist recommendation on his or her speed dial, but that needn’t stop you from comparing that referral to other community-based specialists. If your inner circle includes couples who have been through the fertility doctor selection process, ask for their recommendations, remembering that not every couple seeks the same attributes in a doctor or clinic.
Search for fertility clinics and visit as many facilities as possible to learn about their practices, pricing and protocols. Is it worth creating a spreadsheet to make comparisons? It is. Side-by-side comparisons can reveal pros and cons and clarify hunches.
What to compare? Tests. Procedures. Treatments. Time parameters. Don’t discount your gut feelings as you peruse criteria. If you’re a stickler for statistics, there’s a federal database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control, so add that input if you like.
What to Ask When Interviewing Specialists
Given the amount of money you will spend and the complex relationship that evolves between patient and clinic staff, no questions are out of bounds. Inquire into the number of years principals have been delivering infertility-specific services—physicians, technicians, administrative staff and other clinicians.
If you discover high staff turnover, don’t dismiss it. You have every right to ask about state-of-the-art equipment and technology because updates in this industry are frequent, thus newer drugs, techniques and equipment can improve your chances of becoming pregnant faster.
Should you be concerned about ethics? You should. Ask about age cut-off policies and whether there’s a cap on the number of cultured embryos a specialist is willing to implant. Make a fast exit if staff is hesitant to answer your questions, if they’re evasive about costs, or if everyone appears too busy or impatient to address your concerns.
How Much Research Should You Undertake?
Despite your level of comfort with technology, website surfing and search engine trolling can have a downside. As you began to delve into medical journals, procedural white papers, case studies and technical data, all of which are fascinating reads, you may find yourself more confused on treatment options than when you started.
The linguistic challenge implicit within the medical and scientific communities devoted to this subject is daunting, which is why it’s critical to have access to professionals eager to explain how things work. As couples quickly learn, there’s plenty of misleading infertility data in cyberspace as well. The goal of your research is to become informed enough that you can have an open discussion with professionals and doctors to make the best and most informed decision for you and your situation.
How to Budget for Treatments
If you have the good fortune to have friends or relatives who have “been there and done that” when it comes to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), pick their brains. Just remember that unless their experience is recent, changes in procedures and approaches move at warp speed, so if too much time has elapsed, count on them for personal insights and practical dos and don’ts rather than specific treatment advice.
Expect IVF treatment costs to vary by type and number and anticipate spending more in some states than others, just as housing costs differ from region to region. On average, an infertility tab is likely to start at $12,000, but just as every woman is unique, so the combination of drugs, procedures and treatments are as well, so use this figure only as a starting point.
Why That $12,000 Figure is Just the Beginning
Circumstances surrounding IVF are rarely straight-forward procedures where the husband’s sperm is harvested to achieve pregnancy. It can take multiple implantation attempts as success rates on the first one are only around 25 percent.
If a woman’s eggs aren’t viable and donor eggs are required, that $12,000 cost can average $38,000, but there’s a trade-off: Success rates as high as 75 percent have been reported using donor eggs. Ditto donor sperm. You’ll spend around $14,000 using it, but the success rate using donor sperm is also as high as 75 percent.
The number of IVF medications prescribed can impact a budget, as will screening tests for genetic disorders. Couples can even enter into the gender selection realm which is a costly addition to the bill—and this doesn’t begin to cover late-in-pregnancy health issues, labor and delivery costs.
Will Insurance Cover Your Treatment?
When it comes to coverage in the United States, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 15 states have in effect some version of infertility insurance coverage. These mandates cover Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia.
Will these PPO, HMO and POS plans cover everything? Hardly. But something is better than nothing, so if you live in any of these states, consult with your insurer to see if you’re covered.
How and Where to Turn to Raise Money
This is a big topic for discussion for you and your partner prior to starting your treatment. Decide what your budget is and what you are willing to sacrifice and incur when it comes to costs and debts.
If you have no insurance coverage, there are other ways to pay for treatments, including the following:
-If you have enough equity in your home or business, seek a second mortgage to pay costs.
-Borrow against a fully-funded whole life insurance policy.
-Seek a collateralized bank or credit union loan to cover your expenses.
-Apply for an IVF-specific loan.
-Borrow from well-heeled family members if they’ve got disposable funds that can be repaid over time.
-Apply for financial assistance grants and awards for treatments.
About the Treatment Timeline
Just as some women become pregnant after a single IVF procedure, others must wait. Following an initial consult, your specialist could start a cycle leading to your pregnancy in a matter of weeks, but variables ranging from menstrual cycle fluctuations to unsuccessful implantations can impact the process and eat up more time.
As a rule, doctors estimate the process takes at least two to three months, but don’t try to pin that infertility doctor to a wall of promises, because your body is in charge of this timeline. He or she is just the facilitator. And it’s never a good idea to spread the word about a pregnancy until you’re sure. Really sure.
Strengthening Your Relationship
When looking at fertility struggles among couples, have the complexities that revolve around fertility treatments impaired the relationships of couples? The answer is yes and no. Few stressors are as profoundly life-altering as the fertility treatment journey and it’s common for even the most loving couples to experience conflicts.
From hormone-driven mood swings to the impact this process has on the family budget, there is no single body of advice that can be given to a couple except to suggest that you do your best to go with the flow, keep your expectations low, and have continuous communication with your partner.
The great news is that Mother Nature may not deliver on your hopes immediately, but given the state of fertility treatments in today’s world, there’s a better-than-ever chance that day will come.