Once they have gone through the tests and investigations and the doctor has determined that IVF is the only option, the first question that most couples ask is: How much does IVF cost?
IVF procedure is expensive, and often the treatment becomes more stressful for patients because there is no guarantee of success —the average success rates of IVF worldwide are under 50%. And for those who fail, it feels like a lot of money is wasted.
Cost of IVF across the world
The average cost of IVF varies in different parts of the world as:
- USA – $18,000 – $20,000
- U.K. – $8,000 or (£ 5,000)
- India – $2,200 – $7,000
- Thailand – $7,500
- Malaysia – $4,500 – $7,000
- Australia – $8,000
- South Africa – $3,000 – $5,000
- Canada – $10,000 – $17,000
- Europe – $2,500 – $6,000
The costs above are for fresh cycles of IVF (including medication). You will have to extend your budget for embryo freezing, or IVF with donor eggs or sperm.
Most patients cringe at the thought of having to spend so much, which is why it is important that you understand the costs.
Why is IVF so expensive?
The cost of IVF usually includes:
- Initial Counselling and Tests – Your doctor will suggest FSH, LH, E2, TSH, Prolactin tests for ovarian functions. HSG, hysteroscopy, etc may also be required for checking the uterine cavity.
- Medication – The injections administered for ovulation induction are expensive. Normally, a woman’s ovaries release one egg a month, but for better chances of success with IVF, the doctor will stimulate your ovaries to be able to collect more eggs prior to the fertilization process. Some cheaper versions of these medications may be available but you must ask the doctor to know the pros and cons of each. If opting for the cheapest medication results in a negative outcome, know that even the rest of your money is wasted.
- Lab charges – IVF clinics will then charge for the actual process, which is in vitro fertilization of the collected eggs with sperms done in the IVF lab. This could be anywhere between $1,000 (in India) to $5,000 (in the West) and may reflect in your bill as IVF lab charges.
- Doctor’s fee – There will be several rounds to the hospital for health check-ups, counseling sessions, follicular monitoring, ultrasounds
- Embryologist’s fee – The person who actually performs the IVF procedure in the lab is not a doctor but a specialist called an embryologist. Most IVF centers hire part-time or full time embryologists for the lab procedure.
- Media and Disposables – The media used for IVF is sourced from international market, which makes it expensive. And lastly, you have to factor in the cost of all disposables—injections, needles, catheter, test-tubes, Petri-dishes, etc
You need to be careful that some clinics offering suspiciously cheap IVF in India may be compromising on the quality of materials or reusing disposables.
The doctor’s and embryologist’s fee are unlikely to be compromised, and even if someone decides to give it up, it is unlikely to make a significant difference in your IVF package.
Do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not feel confident of the practice. You are paying for everything and you have the right to make an informed choice.
Where can I get low-cost IVF?
Many people also fly to get IVF in Malaysia, as it is only a fraction of the cost they would expect to pay locally.
It is not a compromise of standards, as you will see, but primarily because of the low cost of living and the relatively inexpensive medical education in these places. Unlike in the West, Indian doctors are not burdened with medical loans and thus their savings are passed on to the patients.
But even in India, you will find that IVF costs are quite variable. When choosing an IVF clinic, keep in mind you do not blindly want to go for the cheapest—you want to get the best value for your money.
Look for an IVF clinic where you feel confident of getting quality treatment; ask questions, feel free to ask for referrals of former patients, meet the doctor, and go with the place that feels right.
Nobody can assure success with IVF, but you are only going to take a maximum of 2-3 chances at IVF in your life. Do not compromise on the quality of treatment.
What if it fails?
If one cycle of IVF fails, you can go for another one, unless you have already tried up to 3 cycles and have not gotten positive results, in which case a change in treatment plan is advised.
The success rates of IVF are less than 50% and there are many factors that can affect your chances of IVF success.
Multiple cycle IVF plans may turn out to be more economical, especially for women over the age of 35 years.
How many cycles of IVF are needed for success?
I wish there was a definite answer to this but nobody can predict success with IVF.
There are many people who conceive in the first chance, and there are also those who are willing to take as many chances as it takes. I know a lady who insisted on trying IVF with donor eggs and finally conceived in her 6th chance. She delivered twins at her retirement.
Considering the average success rates, you may want to try atleast 3 cycles of IVF before opting for surrogacy.
There is no denying the fact that the cost of IVF is an important factor towards choosing a fertility clinic and you must:
- Ask the clinic about what is included in the IVF package cost
- Ask if you are eligible for minimal stimulation IVF, which is relatively cheaper
- Ask about the success rate or chance of success— not just general but specifically in your case
- Ask about multiple cycle IVF packages or any discounts if your first cycle fails
- Consider the doctor’s experience and expertise and the clinic’s devotion to honest practice and not just the price they are offering