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Dollars and Sense

by Evelina Sterling

The economy stinks! Is now really the right time to try to have a baby?

In one word … absolutely! I know, I know, it’s a bit more complicated than that. After all, treating infertility can be expensive. And it’s difficult to know exactly where that money is going to come from, especially now. So, why do I still think it’s a good time for you to start trying to have a baby?

Let’s Start with the Basics

The younger you are, the better your chances are of becoming pregnant. And tomorrow you are just going to be a day older, not to mention next month, next year, or five years from now. As unfair as this is (unfortunately, men don’t seem to have this same issue), you have a lot more options available to you the younger you are. On average a woman’s peak fertility is in her late 20s. It decreases somewhat at age 35, and then decreases sharply after 40. As you can see, there is no better time for baby-making than the present ... if you think you are ready to become a parent that is!

Other clues that might necessitate further investigation of your fertility sooner rather than later are irregular menstrual periods, severe menstrual pain, previous sexually-transmitted infections, a history of chronic conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, cancer, etc.), recurrent miscarriages, or having tried to become pregnant without success for at least one year (or six months if you are over 35).

Still, this doesn’t mean you have to go running to your nearest fertility clinic with your wallet wide open. Like in every other aspect of your life, being a smart consumer is critical, particularly in today’s bad economy.

Fertility 101

First things first: make sure you are doing everything possible to maximize your success for getting pregnant. This means staying healthy, understanding your body, knowing when you ovulate and when to attempt pregnancy. The female body is complex and often mysterious. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t think you understand all that is going on. Get a copy of Toni Wechler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility and start doing your homework.

If this doesn’t work, take a deep breath and try to relax (as much as humanly possible that is!). Over 7.3 million women or nearly one in six couples has difficulty getting pregnant. Not only is infertility relatively common, the success rates overall are good. With proper diagnosis and treatment, over 90 percent of women are able to have a baby.

See a Specialist—Stat!

If you think you might be having fertility issues, get the proper help as soon as possible. And this starts with talking with your gynecologist and gathering information about fertility clinics. While Gyns are a great initial source of information, all that fertility specialists do is try to get women pregnant. Bottom line—they know their stuff and can get results much faster!

Many women are reluctant to go see a fertility specialist because they can envision the money just flying out of their pockets. It’s true that once you walk through that door marked “infertility,” you are probably going to spend more money than you expected. And, yes it’s true that some families have spent in excess of $100,000 to get pregnant, but this is far from the norm. Infertility treatments do not always equate to expensive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, many women are able to become pregnant with lower-cost and lower-tech methods.

Plan for Your Success

The key is to educate yourself and go in with a plan. Know what you can realistically afford and don’t get caught up in the infertility treadmill. This means not blindly accepting everything your doctor or insurance company says. It’s your responsibility to ask the tough questions and demand answers. If you don’t like the answer, ask again or go elsewhere. There are many opportunities to save money (and your sanity) here if you speak your mind and try to negotiate. Never underestimate the power of an informed patient!

Treating infertility can be expensive. Unfortunately, we can’t wave our magic ultrasound wands and make all your financial woes disappear. But, if you arm yourself with the information and power you need to take control of your fertility plan, you can create the best medical team for you, choose cost-effective treatment, save money on medications, and fight your insurance company for the coverage you deserve. So if you think now is the time to start trying for a baby, I say go for it!


Evelina Weidman Sterling, PhD, MPH, CHES is the co-author of Budgeting for Infertility: How to Bring Home a Baby without Breaking the Bank along with several other best-selling and award-winning books about fertility, including Having Your Baby through Egg Donation, Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and Before Your Time: Living Well with Premature Ovarian Failure and Early Menopause. She is also the co-founder of My Fertility Plan, a new innovative company that provides patients with the information, skills, and tools they need to fully understand their own individual fertility and progress through their infertility treatments in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

Advice on managing the costs of infertility treatment.

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