The Cost of Infertility- Financial Post

Would you invest $100,000 of your life savings with a 50% to 75% chance of losing your money and receiving zero return?

Does your province cover infertility treatments?


0926ivfProvinces will pay to investigate infertility and perform some surgeries; but few pay for treatments. What if the return was a life? How much would you spend for the chance to have a child? What is it worth to you to expand your family? Thousands of Canadian couples are faced with this dilemma — an estimated 11.5% to 15.7% of couples face infertility, notes a 2012 Vanier Institute of the Family report — and the compulsion to gamble everything is great, given the reward. Infertility doesn’t discriminate. It often arrives unannounced, leaving couples unprepared for the hefty financial implications. To pay for fertility treatments, people take out second mortgages on their homes. They clean out their savings.

Depending on where you live, a single course of IVF (in vitro fertilization) costs $4,500 to $8,000, plus $2,000 to $7,000 for required medication. (A portion of the fees may be covered by extended medical insurance or provincial health care plans.) Donor sperm costs $3,000 to $4,500 for six inseminations. It is illegal to pay for donor eggs in Canada; but to get one from the U.S. might be as much as $20,000. Commercial surrogacy is outlawed in Canada; but parents are willing to pay as much as $100,000 to have a baby via a surrogate in the U.S.

“It’s so scary. In my head, I was thinking, ‘I would spend any amount of money,’” said Amira Posner, a 36-year-old Toronto social worker. She and her husband spent $18,000 on IVF treatments and after two years, her twins were born in 2010.

“Because you’re so caught in it, it’s hard to think clearly. You want something so bad and it’s hard to put a money label on something that is so organic.”

It may be hard; but the fact remains that there is an associated price tag. And what if you don’t have the available funds? Do you wait until you’ve saved enough, knowing that with every year that passes, your chances of conceiving drop?

In the summer of 2011, Ashley and Jeff Coull visited a fertility specialist in Victoria. In an office, surrounded by photos of babies, Ashley was told that she had diminished ovarian reserve. “I have the eggs of the woman who is going through menopause,” Ms. Coull, 30, said.

To retrieve her eggs for in vitro fertilization, it would cost $5,500, not including medication, the doctor told her. “I was shocked. I thought, ‘Where the hell are we going to get this money?’ We had bought a house three years earlier and we were just making it.”


ScreenshotOshawa, Ont. residents Amber and Chris Willdig spent $24,000 on fertility treatments.

They borrowed money from her parents. They maxed out their credit cards and paid them off with their line of credit. They rented out their basement to international students. They cut back on spending. They spent six months driving together to and from work when Mr. Coull’s vehicle broke down. As a further burden, Ms. Coull took a two-month stress leave from her job at B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development and received 75% of her wages.

“I remember thinking a lot of times, hearing friends say that they’re going on vacation, I would’ve loved to be on a nice beach with my husband and not dreading the first of the month when we had to pay the bills.”

After five rounds of IVF, medication, acupuncture, therapy and fees for freezing embryos, it cost the Coulls $23,000. At 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 20, 2013, their son, Jackson was born.

The Coulls are still about $10,000 in debt.

“I would do it a million times over. I’d find a way. I’d sell my house. I’d beg, plead, borrow, steal,” she said, her voice breaking.

“You’re going to feel like you can’t pour another cent into it. When you go to the doctor and you know you have to pay another $1,000 for medication and it’s going to leave your bank account at zero, and you’re not going to be able to buy dinner and you’re going to have to have macaroni again — we ate so much macaroni — it’s worth every penny.”

But is it worth every penny because the Coulls have Jackson? What if the treatments didn’t work? There is no guarantee. IVF has a success rate of 47% for women under 35 and drops to 25% for those 41 and 42, according to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

In Canada in 2010, there were 11,806 IVF and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection of eggs cycles performed, and about 3,200 babies born as a result, said Dr. Timothy Rowe, head of the reproductive endocrinology and infertility division at the University of B.C.

“Everything about it makes you feel irresponsible,” Kyle Adamo, a 37-year-old project manager at a Toronto design firm, said.

Adamo and his wife Melissa Martin who is also 37, cleaned out $24,000 worth of savings on fertility treatments; they spent $13,500 for one cycle of IVF, including drug costs; but it was not successful and they decided not to repeat it. They then opted for six intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatments at a total cost of $2,400.

Matthew Sherwood for National Post

Matthew Sherwood for National PostMelissa Martin and her husband Kyle Adamo have spent $24,000 on fertility treatments.

“It’s a vicious spiral. You could spend thousands upon thousands of dollars and still not have what you want,” Ms. Martin said. “That would be even more heartbreaking. You’d feel robbed and you’d feel empty.”

On a recent afternoon, the couple waited for the fertility clinic to call with the results of their last IUI treatment. She sat on the couch, checking her cellphone every few minutes.

The two are affable and easy-going; Mr. Adamo’s face at rest is serious, whereas, Ms. Martin’s is expressive, always grinning or laughing. In the dining area, a photo from their wedding three years ago shows Ms. Martin’s niece flashing the photographer in the middle of the ceremony.

Matthew Sherwood for National Post

Matthew Sherwood for National PostMelissa Martin receives her blood test results following infertility treatment. Treatment is a gamble: There is no guarantee treatment will work, with an IVF success rate of 47% for women under 35, and 25% for those 41 and 42.

“If it doesn’t happen in 2013, that’s it. We’ll be great aunts and uncles. We’ll spoil everyone we know,” she said. “I regret spending $13,500. I regret not getting pregnant. But at the same time, I had to try for my own peace of mind.

“What’s the cost of a family, a life, love? But you’ve got to think that there’s no guarantee. You can’t mess with your life financially for that.”

The nurse finally called at 3:49 p.m. Ms. Martin accepted the news, her eyes closed, her chin dimpled with emotion. She broke into a grin.

Matthew Sherwood for National Post

Matthew Sherwood for National PostMelissa Martin and her husband Kyle Adamo hug after getting the results of a blood test confirming a pregnancy in August.

“This is awesome, thanks!” she said before hanging up. Mr. Adamo hugged her, tears in his eyes. They then separated and gave each other a high five.

Their baby is due in April 2014.

Melissa Martin and Kyle Adamo’s expenses from 27 months of trying to conceive

$13,500: IVF (including $6,500 cycle fee, $1,400 for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and drug costs)

$2,400: Six intrauterine insemination procedures

$300: Clomid (ovulation stimulating drug)

$3,000: Gonal F (injectable follicle stimulating drug)

$340: Ovidrel (a drug that assists with ovulation)

$2,000: Acupuncture

$160: Sperm friendly lubricant

$900: Ovulation predictor kits

$599.75: Home pregnancy test

$650: Vitamins

$120: Books and education

$85: Anti-mullerian hormone fertility test to determine your ovarian reserve

TOTAL: $24,054.75



Association between eating disorders and reproductive health problems- Helsinki University

According to a Finnish study, women with eating disorders are less likely to have children than others in their age group. The discrepancy is the most apparent in anorexia sufferers. In this group, the number of pregnancies was less than half of that of the control group. The likelihood of abortion was more than double for bulimics than for others in the same age group. Meanwhile, the likelihood for miscarriage was more than triple for binge-eating disorder (BED) sufferers. For women who had been in treatment for BED, nearly half of their pregnancies ended in miscarriage. “Early recognition, effective care and sufficiently long follow-up periods for eating disorders are crucial in the prevention of reproductive health problems,” states researcher Milla Linna from the University of Helsinki, Hjelt Institute. Eating disorders are common in Western countries, particularly among girls and young women. It has been estimated that 5-10% of all young women in developed countries suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Conducted jointly by the University of Helsinki and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the 15-year register-based study examined the reproductive health of patients treated at the eating disorder clinic of the Helsinki University Central Hospital in 1995-2010 and a control group. Members of the control group were of the same age and gender and from the same region as the patients. More than 11,000 women participated in the study, of which 2,257 were patients of the eating disorder clinic and 9,028 were control group members.
“This study does not provide an explanation for the reproductive health problems observed in women with eating disorders. Based on previous research, however, it seems likely that the problems can at least partially be attributed to the eating disorder. Both being underweight and obese are known to be associated with the increased risk of infertility and miscarriage. Eating disorders also often involve menstrual irregularities or the absence of menstruation, which may lead to neglecting contraception and ultimately t0unwanted pregnancies,” hypothesises Linna.


Adira Greenwald presented the following about Small Wonders for Project Give Back



Most of us don’t realize what a big miracle it is to have children. How would you feel if you were so excited to be a mother and father and then found out that you were not able to have children?

My charity, Small Wonders, helps couples who can’t have children in many ways. For example, Small Wonders helps couples by sending them to the best doctors who can help them with their problems. Also, Small Wonders helps couples pay for expensive medications and procedures they need in order to be able to have children. Small Wonders also finds people for these couples to talk to who can understand their problems, so that they don’t feel sad.

I chose this charity because I love children and babies, and if couples couldn’t have children, a lot of us would not be here today.

One of the sayings in the Torah is that if you save one life, you save the world. The Torah says that because from Adam, who is only one person, came the whole world. Therefore, if one couple gets help in bringing a new baby into the world, it’s like there was a new world created.

On Pesach several years ago, my great zaydee, (my bubbies father), who was an only child, was speaking to us at the seder which was filled with 27 people, and he said, “I can’t believe that all of you came from me.” That fact connects to my charity, because if my great grand-parents couldn’t have children, the 27 people at that seder, would not be there.

I hope you learned a bit about my charity. I have tried to make a difference in the world and I hope it worked. I hope you can too.

Please donate and check out the website for Small Wonders.

Thank you for listening.