Paying for Fertility Treatments: How One Couple Financed their Path to Parenthood
The plan, Jonathan recalls, was straightforward: Marry his fiancée, get away for a honeymoon, and get down to the business of starting a family.
“My wife was 39 and I’d just turned 40,” he says. “We wanted to have kids, and we also knew time wasn’t necessarily on our side.”
The wedding and honeymoon were beautiful. But soon after their return—and after several months of trying to conceive without success—they started to worry, and decided to see a doctor. “We figured she would tell us everything was fine, but then she ordered tests.”
The news wasn’t good: He and his wife were infertile. They might still have children, their doctor told them, but not without medical assistance. “Becoming parents would require a special procedure,” Jonathan says. “And it was going to cost us a lot of money.”
A swing and a miss
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 12% of women of normal reproductive age experience difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Infertility, defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of trying (six months for women 35 and older), affects approximately one out of eight couples nationwide, the CDC reports and is just as often caused by a male medical issue as it is by female medical issue.
The good news for many couples struggling with infertility is that in 85-90% of cases, the condition can be treated successfully with medications or surgery. Sometimes, however, those options don’t work, forcing couples who still want children to try procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
IVF involves the injection of a hormone to stimulate a woman’s ovaries; the surgical removal of any eggs that are produced as a result; and the mixing, in a Petri dish, of those eggs with a man’s sperm. If fertilization occurs, the resulting embryo is transferred to the woman’s uterus. And if the couple is lucky (success rates vary by clinic and age, but average 43% for women under the age of 35, and 27% for women 38-40), their baby is born around nine months later.
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In Jonathan and his wife’s case, their doctor suggested starting with intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure involving the placement of sperm directly into a woman’s uterus during ovulation. “It’s one of the less invasive options,” explains Jonathan. “While it’s not always effective, it’s a lot less expensive than IVF.”
Their insurance wouldn’t cover either treatment, so they chose IUI. But first, they had a hurdle to clear. “The clinic wanted $7,000 upfront,” Jonathan recalls. “But we’d just spent most of our savings on our wedding.”
Jonathan and his wife aren’t the only ones who have had to consider cost while exploring alternative paths toward parenthood. Currently, only 15 states have laws requiring insurers to offer plans covering infertility treatment. So while some individuals are covered by insurance for certain diagnoses and procedures, many others don’t have access to coverage at all.
So how do couples without insurance coverage pay for treatments often topping $10,000 each? Many simply use a credit card and pay back the money over time, while others tap retirement accounts, take out home equity loans, or ask their parents or grandparents for help. But Jonathan and his wife took a different route. “We asked the clinic for a recommendation. They steered us toward a company that specializes in fertility treatment loans, and we went for it,” he says.
But they soon regretted their decision.
“I have good credit and a great job, yet the loan they gave us had an APR of over 13%. Plus, we were charged a document-preparation fee of $105 and a 2% service fee on every payment,” he added. “And in the end, IUI didn’t even work. So we spent that money and had nothing to show for it.”
A better option
At this point, many couples might have given up or perhaps pursued options like surrogacy or adoption. But Jonathan and his wife still had hope and decided to try IVF. “Obviously, there were no guarantees,” Jonathan says, “but IVF does have a much higher success rate than IUI.”
The method would be substantially more expensive—about $100,000, all told. “But to us,” says Jonathan, “it would be worth it, whatever it cost.”
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His confidence around cost came as a result of shopping around for a better medical financing option and eventually finding one in SoFi. “We weren’t going to repeat our mistake and wind up buried in debt for the next 10 years,” he says. “We chose SoFi not only because their interest rate was so low”—fixed at 8.375% with no hidden fees attached—”but also because they made the application process so easy. I put in some information, uploaded a pay stub, and we were off and running.”
Success at last
With their loan secured, the IVF process began. And not long after that—last spring, in fact—Jonathan’s wife gave birth to a boy. “He’s crawling, he’s smiling, he’s a healthy baby,” Jonathan says. “It’s unbelievable to us that everything worked out. We really couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Share Jonathan’s story with someone you know who might benefit from it. To learn more about how a personal loan might finance your own fertility treatments, call SoFi for a free consultation.