How Much Do Fertility Treatments Cost, Anyway?

IUI vs IVF Cost

If you’re thinking it’s time to try fertility treatments, you’ve probably heard that “expensive” is kind of an understatement when it comes to baby-making costs. Sure, raising kids is expensive…but what about having them?

Some parents will tell you they spent tens of thousands of dollars on fertility, and that was with health insurance! But does that mean you’ll have to clear out your savings and take out a second mortgage? Maybe not.

Here’s the lowdown on what you’re really looking at when it comes to fertility treatment costs.

Fertility treatments cost HOW MUCH?!

Alright, let’s rip off the Band-Aid, shall we? Knowing how much different fertility treatments can cost goes a long, long way when it comes to choosing what to do (and how to pay for it).

All treatments vary from state to state and doctor to doctor, says Jaime Knopman, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at New York fertility clinic Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM). Still, Knopman offers this general look at what you might expect between IUI vs. IVF and beyond:

Embryo donation: typically free

When you opt for an embryo donation, you get an egg that’s already been fertilized by sperm and is ready for implantation in the uterus. Most embryo donations are done via religious-based non-profits, which help match those with unused embryos with folks who are looking to become parents in this way. And while the embryo itself will likely not cost you anything, there will be fees for the IVF required to transfer the embryo into the uterus.

Sperm donation: around $700

Sperm, of course, is half of the equation when it comes to creating an embryo. You’ll need it to fertilize an egg in order to make a baby. A sperm donation is typically done via a purchase of an anonymous donor’s sperm from a sperm bank, although some folks do have friends or family who will make the donation for free. This fee will be coupled with either IUI or IVF, depending on what your doctor suggests is best for pregnancy.

Egg donation: $5,000 – $30,000

This option really ranges in cost depending on how you go about it. If you’re in need of an egg donation to be fertilized by your own or donated sperm, your least expensive option is to seek out a friend or family member. Their donation might cost you little more than their medical fees and medication (depending on whether or not their insurance will cover the procedure).

Egg banks—places where you can find eggs donated by anonymous donors— typically offer this building block of a baby for around $10,000. A third option, Knopman says, is to contact an egg donor agency. They’ll go out and find a donor for you who matches your criteria (say, a woman who has blue eyes and plays piano, just like you!), but it will cost you. Agency fees can head into upwards of $30,000. And of course, egg donation requires IVF, which means you’ll still need to consider those clinic fees and meds.

IUI: around $400 per insemination

Once you have sperm, you need to get it to the right place in order for pregnancy to happen. That’s where IUI can come into play.

Some women are given drugs to stimulate egg production as part of an IUI cycle, which can add to the costs. If drugs are on the docket, typically they’re lower cost than those required if you’re undergoing IVF. Some, like Clomid, can be as little as $10 to $20 per prescription, Knopman says. Keep in mind though, there will likely be an additional cost for “washing” the sperm being used to ensure you get the purest sample, and there may also be additional charges for ultrasounds and bloodwork.

IVF: $8,000+ for the basics

“This is where things start to get more expensive,” Knopman says. “Not because of the procedures but because of the medications.” During IVF, an embryo gets transferred into the uterus, and medications may be prescribed beforehand to stimulate egg production and to prep the body for implantation.

Altogether, IVF medications can be $5,000 or more, depending on the number of times eggs are harvested and embryos transferred. And of course, each of these steps along the way carry a cost. Most fertility clinics will group fees together, so a parent or parents know what to expect, but beware: The global fee usually will not include the cost of medications or fees charged by outside labs, anesthesiologists, or radiologists. For some clinics, this “global fee” is as little as $8,000. For others, it can be as much as $30,000, Knopman says.

Surrogacy: $100,000+

The most expensive option for folks who are looking to become parents is typically surrogacy, wherein an embryo is implanted into the uterus of a gestational carrier—a woman who agrees to gestate a baby for nine months. Prices for this will top $100,000 Knopman says, as it includes covering not just the IVF procedures but also the care for the entire nine months of a woman’s pregnancy.

Don’t whip out your credit card just yet

OK, take a deep breath before you start diving into your couch cushions and rooting for spare change.

Sitting down with your doctor’s billing office before you start any fertility treatment can be a good way to prevent sudden unexpected fees from popping up and surprising you along your fertility treatment journey.

Pamela Hirsch, co-founder of the Baby Quest Foundation, a California-based non-profit that provides grants to help cover individuals’ fertility treatment costs, has some tips for dealing with billing:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions up front.
  • Ask what exactly your insurance will cover. Maybe the doctor takes your insurance, but the lab won’t.
  • Ask how to best allocate your insurance dollars when there’s only partial coverage. Sometimes medications are better paid for out of pocket in order to focus your insurance dollars on other, possibly pricier parts of the process.
  • Be your own advocate. Say, “I want to speak to the billing person.”

How to save on fertility treatments

Still feeling like you need to skip your daily Starbucks and cancel your Netflix subscription? It’s OK. Facing all those high dollar amounts can be overwhelming, but there are ways to cut your costs and take the pressure off.

  • Look for grants from non-profits, like Hirsch’s, and check out our Find a Grant tool to see if you might qualify for these opportunities.
  • Don’t be shy asking for help. Crowdfunding has been growing in popularity as means to make a family.
  • If you don’t have insurance coverage, ask about a self-pay rate which is lower than the one the clinic would charge if you were insured.
  • Ask your doctor for samples of the pricey medications. They might not always have them, but if they know you’re self pay, they’re more likely to save some for you.

Bottom line

Just like fertility treatment itself, there is no one-size-fits-all cost or one “perfect” way to fund your journey. What matters is what’s right for you.

Jeanne Sager

Jeanne Sager is a writer and photographer from upstate New York. She's strung words together for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and more.