A couple of weeks back two of my sisters shared with me this article about Ontario announcing 50 Clinics Offering Government-Funded Fertility Treatments. At first I was stoked, because as a person who struggles with fertility issues this is a big thing.
There are a lot of costs associated with infertility. There are financial costs, of course. There are also physical and emotional costs.
We are told that our bodies are these amazing things, these temples of life! It’s “normal” for women to want to get pregnant without really “trying”. So when you’re trying for years, and you know your body is not normal, there is a cost to that. When there are roadblocks in your way and you feel like your temple is defective, there is a toll in that. It costs you peace of mind when you are trying to figure out why your body doesn’t follow the rules. It takes a toll when you try to celebrate with those around you when they find out their families are growing and inside you are grieving for the child you don’t have. You play the blame game and think “if only” even though you know it’s not your fault, and you know there’s nothing you can do to make your body “normal”.
Physically you can be surprised by periods and mood swings that don’t follow any rhyme or reason. Sometimes this means spending more money on clothes because you weren’t prepared, and how can you be prepared for your period if it comes so infrequently? Unless you wear a pad 24-7 and who wants t do that! And even if I did, that’s an extra cost. And how embarrassing! Out with friends, or on a date, or at family Christmas, and you find yourself in an emergency situation where you need a pad and some clean underwear NOW.
Going to the doctor, getting tests done, having procedures done where strangers are in your most private places can be frustrating and humiliating. It’s uncomfortable too! Going on medications to try and get your body to behave “normally” also has non-monetary costs. Emotions go all haywire, physical side effects like hot flashes and digestive distress can make you question if it’s really worth it.
Add to that the money… In the article I mentioned before they state:
“Ontario will fund one cycle of IVF and unlimited rounds of artificial insemination for eligible people at fertility clinics across the province.
One cycle of IVF includes one egg retrieval, which may yield multiple eggs and result in multiple embryos. The program will also cover the cost of the one-at-a-time transfer of all viable embryos to allow for the possibility of multiple chances for pregnancy and to reduce the occurrence of higher-risk multiple births. “
Don’t get me wrong, this is awesome! IVF (in vitro fertilization) and IUI (intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination as it is sometimes called) both get really expensive really fast.
I’m lucky that my benefits through work cover part of the cost of the fertility medication I was on. At the lowest dose Serophene cost $50, at the highest it cost $150 per round. I was on the highest dose and I would take three rounds per cycle. The next med we were going to try was injections, I can’t remember the name but we were looking at $1200 per course of that and on average it would take two courses to get pregnant.
While they are tiny peanuts compared to the cost of IVF and IUI, these costs add up. Like most areas of medicine, Fertility treatments are administered from least invasive to most. So unless there are clear reasons that certain less invasive treatments won’t work, you have to shell out the money for pills and injections before getting to the treatments that are now covered under the new funding.
Compared to the no money that parents without fertility issues have to pay to get pregnant and it just seems wildly unfair.
David and I have had several talks about how much we are willing to spend and how far we are willing to go to expand our family. Most people want to have a nice little cushion of cash when they start a family. When we found out we were going to have Lily, I was off work for the summer and we were in the process of figuring out how to pay for the injections (because Lily was a bit of a surprise since Serophene was not working so well for me), suddenly our focus flipped and we started aggressively saving for our new little one.
To pay out of pocket thousands of dollars for a chance at a baby, that even if you get pregnant may not make it, is quite a gamble and it takes more than just a financial toll.
I’m glad the government is making strides to help with this financial burden, but I think more can and should be done. The cost of treatment should not be a deterrent for a couple who a couple who are otherwise set up to be wonderful and responsible parents.