Thanks to science, if you have a uterus but are not ready to become a parent during the height of your fertility, you can freeze your eggs. For many people, freezing their eggs is a chance to preserve their ability to become pregnant in the future. Others freeze their eggs for medical reasons, be it treatments or operations that put fertility at risk, such as chemotherapy or a hysterectomy.
Egg-freezing is a physical, emotional and financial investment in a future family and comes with significant risks, as there's no guarantee of a live birth resulting from frozen eggs. The hormones may cause you to have mood swings and major bodily changes. While it's good to keep all of that in mind, the financial commitment is often the biggest hurdle for hopeful parents-to-be. The process is very costly in the United States, and most insurance plans don't cover the cost.
How much should you save up?
There are many steps involved in freezing eggs—each is usually associated with a separate fee—from the initial appointment to hormone injections, the actual procedure and the annual rental fee for storage. Once you're ready to use the frozen eggs, there are more costs involved in fertilization and implantation.
"The average [single egg-freezing cycle] cost is $16,000, but that often doesn't include medication and or storage beyond a year," said Cynthia Hudson, an embryologist, co-founder of Kindbody and vice president of clinical strategy and specimen services at TMRW in New York City.
Remember that one egg-freezing cycle often isn't enough to obtain the number of eggs required for storage. Hudson suggests budgeting $6,000 to $12,000 for the procedures, $4,000 to $7,000 for medications, then long-term storage at $500 to $1,200 per year.
"Prices for the process vary by region, and some clinics offer cycles as low as $6,500, but that price is explicitly no meds and no storage," Hudson said. She noted that one cycle of egg-freezing can cost up to $20,000 upfront and still not include long-term cryostorage fees. At CCRM Fertility, with 25 locations across the U.S. and Canada, the initial consult is between $250 and $450, medications are $3,000 to $10,800, and a single egg-freezing cycle is $6,300 to $11,500.
The first step involved in freezing eggs is the medical evaluation, at which you'll discuss the planning of your egg-freezing cycle at the fertility clinic. "The consultation is occasionally complimentary, but more often than not comes in at $200 to $500," Hudson said.
Next is the ovarian stimulation process, which culminates in the egg retrieval process. Hudson said this phase can be daunting and typically requires taking time off from work. She stated that the medication costs range from $3,000 to $7,000 per cycle and the medications, which are mostly injectable, include the hormones responsible for stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, suppression of ovulation and ovulation induction medication.
When you're ready to use your frozen eggs, there are more costs involved for fertilization. Hudson said to budget another $10,000 to $15,000. It will cost more if you want your resulting embryos to be screened before transfer. "If you do screen them, then they all have to be frozen, and a frozen embryo transfer cycle will have to be scheduled and then paid for, which would run another $5,000 or so," Hudson explained.
Another expense to consider during the fertilization process is whether you're using sperm from a partner or a donor. Those fees aren't included in the egg-freezing estimated costs provided by fertility clinics. "There's a male evaluation portion, medical screening, semen analysis, etc., or the purchase of donor sperm," Hudson said. Some insurance companies provide coverage if using sperm only from a spouse.
Some health insurance companies cover egg-freezing for cancer patients, but Hudson said outside of cancer diagnosis, egg-freezing isn't typically considered medically necessary.
As health insurance generally doesn't cover egg-freezing, some companies and clinics offer financing options. "It's a big financial commitment. It's simply out of reach for most people," Hudson said. "Some companies offer it as an employee benefit, including Progyny and Carrot, but it's a luxury item in a benefits package and most still don't offer it as an option."
If you can't afford egg-freezing on your own, there are options for financial support. Hudson suggests using a fertility financing company. Future Family, CapexMD, EggFund, and Ally Lending allow patients to obtain loans against their home to finance fertility treatments. Another option is to enroll in a Freeze and Share program, which allows patients to donate eggs and to freeze their own, thus reducing the egg-freezing costs and also benefiting those struggling to start a family on their own.