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Infertility Comes with Costs, Challenges
Many couples expect the emotional and physical stress associated with infertility, but they don't take the financial implications as seriously, says Nicole Witt, one of the local leaders of Resolve, an infertility support group. And it's one of the most significant investments they'll make.
Putting it into perspective, she says, "You take out a $25,000 loan for a car, so why not do it for a baby?"
Infertility – the inability to conceive naturally after trying for 12 months - affects 1.2 million of the 62 million American women of reproductive age (15-44), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 5 million women have sought some form of infertility-related treatment. Similar numbers apply to sexually-active adult men.
The cheapest fertility alternatives can be as simple as changing one's diet and exercise routine, or taking a common fertility hormone called Clomid, which is on Wal-Mart's $4 prescription list. However, couples need thousands of dollars to afford insemination, or tens of thousands for a single in vitro fertilization procedure with a donated egg.
Bills can climb to $100,000 for doctor visits, diagnostic tests, procedures, egg donors, surrogates or even adoption, says Evelina Weidman Sterling, chief executive of MyFertilityPlan.com and co-author of "Budgeting for Infertility" (Fireside, $16).
As there is never a guarantee you will get pregnant, she says couples need to know the odds associated with any possible fertility treatment. Insurance often covers the initial testing and diagnosis of infertility, but Sterling estimates 70 percent of couples will pay the other expenses by taking out home equity loans, cashing out retirement savings or asking family members for help.