Fertility issues among couples have increased in the past several decades, recent research indicates, and now one in six Canadian couples experience infertility. While many turn to specialty clinics for help, the procedures and drugs can be costly, especially if multiple rounds of treatment are needed to conceive. Government coverage – expected to shrink dramatically in Quebec and minimal at best elsewhere – fluctuates from province to province.
We spoke with Dr. Ellen Greenblatt, head of the Division of Reproductive Sciences and clinical director of the Mount Sinai Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health in Toronto, about some of the most common fertility treatments. While prices vary at private clinics, here are the costs at Mount Sinai:
Fertility medication: $75-$1,000
To enhance the number of eggs being presented. Could be as inexpensive as $75 to $100 for a cycle of oral medications, or as much as $1,000 for injectable cycles. This is a common starting place for couples looking to conceive.
Sperm preparation: $500
When fresh or frozen sperm is inserted in the uterine cavity of a woman at the time of ovulation, it's called intrauterine insemination (IUI). Before the sperm goes in, it is put through a washing and separation procedure. This is the cost per cycle. While some clinics do this twice per cycle, Mount Sinai does it once (which, Greenblatt says, evidence shows is all that's needed).
A standard in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle: $7,000
This includes planning the cycle, writing the protocol, ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs, cycle monitoring for response to fertility meds, egg retrieval, sperm prep, the fertilization process, three to five days of monitoring the progression of the embryos and fresh embryo transfer.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): $1,500
If the patient requires ICSI – a form of micro-manipulation in which each egg is isolated and injected with sperm – this charge is added to the IVF cycle. Even patients who don't absolutely need this treatment may choose to undergo the procedure to boost their chances of successful fertilization, Greenblatt says.
IVF medication: $2,000-$5,000
There's a huge range of medication costs for IVF that depends on age, ovarian reserve (how sensitive a patient's ovaries are to stimulation), body weight and other factors.
Embryo freezing: $750
Budget for the freezing of extra high-quality embryos. About half of couples will make more embryos than the one or two planted in the uterus in a cycle and if they aren't frozen they'll be tossed. This charge includes preparations for freezing, freezing and the first year of storage.
Editors' Note: A previous version of a heading in this story said the cost of egg freezing is $750. In fact, this is the cost of embryo freezing. This version has been corrected.