What Is Financial Infertility?

When Cost Prevents Fertility Testing or Treatment

Stethoscope on top of cash
Lack of funds is the number one barrier to getting fertility treatment for many couples.. Glow Images / Getty Images

Financial infertility is when a lack of funds keeps you from getting the fertility testing or treatments you need. You may think this only applies to those who need expensive treatments, like IVF, but can also apply to those who could succeed on a $50 prescription of Clomid.

Why give financial infertility its own term?

Because sadly, it's the number one obstacle that keeps couples from getting help or treatment.

Costs like…

  • Seeing their primary care doctor or obstetrician. Sometimes from a lack of health insurance.
  • Getting fertility testing done. Some fertility tests aren’t covered by insurance, and others have large deductibles. Proper treatment can’t start until basic tests are finished.
  • Fertility clinic consultation and testing. This is where many couples need to drop out of pursuing treatment.
  • Surgical treatments: They can cost in the thousands, and may or may not be covered by health insurance.
  • Fertility drugs. Clomid may be about $50 (or less for generic), but treatment with injectable gonadotropins can cost several hundred to even thousands of dollars. One study found that the average out-of-pocket expenses for couples treated with medication only is about $900. That doesn’t include whatever testing and basic treatments might have come before.
  • IUI and IVF treatment: Costs for more advanced fertility treatments like these range from $3,000 to as high as $15,000 per cycle.
  • Advanced assisted reproductive technologies: Treatment beyond “basic” IVF raises the costs even more. Couples who need an egg donor may pay as high as $30,000 a cycle. Surrogacy can cost anywhere from $50,000 to 100,000.   

Needing to save up money can push off treatments. If the couple is over age 35, the delay may decrease their odds of successful treatment.

A lack of funds can also make adoption difficult to impossible. There’s a misconception that couples who can’t afford treatment should “just adopt”, but adoption isn’t cost free.  

What If I Can't Afford Testing or Treatments?

If funds are low, don’t assume you can’t afford treatment. Remember that the majority of fertility patients can be treated with the lower costs options.

Assuming you have the money to see your OB/GYN or primary care physician, do at least that first. Your infertility may be solved less expensively than you think.

Also, the problem may be caused by an undiagnosed health issue that you can treat. Treat the underlying cause, and you may not need fertility treatment.

Another thing to try is to boost your health as much as possible. Eat better, lose or gain weight, start exercising, get better sleep.

For some couples with infertility, these steps won't make any difference. But, for others, it may just be able to tip the fertility scale in their favor. It's worth trying.

More on affording fertility treatment costs:


Wu AK, Odisho AY, Washington SL 3rd, Katz PP, Smith JF. “Out-of-Pocket Fertility Patient Expense: Data from a Multicenter Prospective Infertility Cohort.” J Urol. 2013 Sep 7. pii: S0022-5347(13)05330-5. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2013.08.083. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347%2813%2905330-5/abstract

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