If you're looking to preserve your fertility, freezing your eggs — so you have the option to undergo in vitro fertilization later on — could be a good option. The problem: the process is often prohibitively expensive. POPSUGAR spoke to fertility experts to get insight into what factors affect the cost, so you're fully prepared when making such an important decision.
How Much Does It Cost to Freeze Your Eggs?
The cost of fertility preservation can vary dramatically, as several factors affect that cost. The most notable one: whether or not your insurance offers coverage. "Fertility preservation, or freezing of eggs, is considered an elective procedure, where coverage is varied based on your health insurance plan, as there may be full or limited coverage," Sheila Loanzon, DO, a board-certified ob-gyn, told POPSUGAR. "Often, payment is done out of pocket for this procedure." In some cases, insurance coverage is more likely if there is a medical indication, which means fertility preservation is being done for a medical reason, such as cancer treatment. "Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common causes of ovarian failure due to toxins given," Dr. Loanzon explained. As of now, only 16 states require insurers to either cover or offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment.
Whether you're freezing your eggs for medical or nonmedical reasons, fertility preservation is complicated, which is what makes it so expensive. "There are costs for the consultation, egg harvesting, medication, and storage," said Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, an ob-gyn and the director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. The cost of freezing your eggs varies depending not only on your insurance coverage, but also on how long you store your eggs. According to FertilityIQ, a single egg freezing cycle will cost you an average of $11,000 for treatment (which includes monitoring, egg retrieval, and anesthesia), $5,000 for medication, and $2,000 for storage (assuming five years of storage with the first year free and $500 for the additional four years), which comes to a total of $18,000.
Who Are the Best Candidates for Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing allows patients to preserve higher-quality and younger eggs that can be used later to potentially get pregnant. Unfortunately, your health issues, family history, and age often determine the success of the procedure. The more medical challenges you present — or the more children you're hoping to have — the more egg freezing cycles you're likely going to have to undergo, which means the higher your total cost will be. "After the age of 35, it is well studied that the egg quality declines [and] the quantity of eggs retrieved are fewer," Dr. Loanzon said. Therefore, the younger you are at the time of egg freezing, the better your chances of a successful pregnancy later.
You should also keep the potential risks involved with fertility preservation in mind. As Dr. Loanzon explained, "the best candidates for egg retrieval are those who accept the potential risks of the procedure, such as pain, infection, bleeding from surrounding organs (ovaries or pelvic blood vessels), and injury to other organs such as bladder and bowel."
Is Freezing Your Eggs Worth the Cost?
Egg retrieval isn't just costly — it can also be time consuming and emotionally taxing. Anyone considering freezing their eggs should be well aware of the risks, benefits, and alternatives involved before starting the process, especially since there's no guarantee that fertility preservation will eventually result in pregnancy. Dr. Gaither pointed out that it's a "viable option for those who wish to delay starting their family for whatever reasons they have," but given the cost, egg freezing is unfortunately not an option for everyone.
For Dr. Loanzon, freezing your eggs is worthwhile if it gives you peace of mind rather than additional stress. "I believe that, if egg preservation gives you reassurance and freedom from time pressure to know that there is a 'back up system' you may rely on, it's worth it," she said. "If this process gives you more stress and pressure in some way, then it may not be worthwhile and more of a burden. It is an individualized decision and ultimately up to the individual how to proceed."