Pregnancy 101

A Top Doc Reveals 8 Fertility Misconceptions

7. I can't afford IVF
In vitro fertilization is undoubtedly an expensive option for those struggling with infertility—one treatment can cost upwards of $10,000. But because of the strong demand for IVF and its remarkable successes, many commercial insurance plans now include IVF coverage. Several states have even made commercial insurance companies legally obligated to provide some level of IVF coverage in their plans. Furthermore, some fertility practices have implemented sliding-scale payment plans or other financial arrangements to help overcome the economic burdens of treatment. Even pharmaceutical companies have begun offering special programs to make fertility medications more affordable.

So the next time you need to choose or renew your health insurance, think about whether IVF might be in your future and consider strategizing accordingly. At the same time, while many doctors accept insurance for IVF, many do not, so make sure you know how much you'll be paying out-of-pocket before deciding on treatment.

8. Celebrities have babies using IVF in their 40s and 50s—I can too
While IVF is very successful in younger women—nationally, 48% of IVF cycles resulted in a pregnancy in this age range in 2008—it cannot ultimately overcome the problem of reproductive aging. In women 43 and older, only 9% of IVF cycles resulted in a pregnancy in 2008, and more than half of these pregnancies ended in miscarriage. Most IVF clinics will not even offer treatment to women 45 or older using their own eggs.

So what about those celebrities in their late 40s or 50s having twins? Almost certainly these are donor-egg IVF babies, where the embryo is produced from an egg donated by an anonymous younger woman, and is then implanted to grow in the uterus of the older woman. Donor-egg IVF is a wonderful family-building option for many couples, but people need to adjust to the emotional and psychological reality of not contributing their genetics to their baby.

Joshua U. Klein, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN and a Clinical and Research Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City. After earning his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, he completed residency at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Joshua U. Klein, MD
Last Updated: May 02, 2011

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