Angie and Chris Sherman sold a house they loved for a cheaper one and downgraded their car. They evaluated their expenses and cut back where they could—all for the chance to become parents.
Seventeen thousand dollars later and after years of failed attempts to conceive a child naturally and through various fertility treatments, Angie and Chris say "it's all worth it" every time they look at their daughter, Isadora.
The treatment that finally worked for them was in vitro fertilization (IVF)—an assisted reproductive technique that involves stimulating the ovaries with fertility medications to make extra eggs. The eggs are then removed and fertilized with the partner's sperm in a lab and allowed to grow into embryos. One or two embryos are then transferred into the uterus.
"We were really lucky because we conceived Isadora on the first IVF attempt," says Angie.
But that isn't the case for many couples.
"Although the majority of patients will be successful with IVF treatment, the reality is that most patients will need more than one cycle to be successful," says Daniel Williams, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the IVF program, a partnership between UC and Christ Hospital. "One of the biggest issues with IVF, of course, is the cost."
But. Dr. Williams and his colleagues hope that a new IVF program at the Center for Reproductive Health (CRH), called the IntegraMed Shared Risk Refund Program, will help eliminate some of that stress.
Patients pay one fee (excluding the cost of medications) and may attempt up to three IVF cycles and three frozen embryo transfer cycles. If a baby is not born, 70 percent of the fee is returned (100 percent if donor eggs are used).
"The average person has difficulty affording just one cycle," says Dr. Williams. "This program benefits those who undergo IVF because they’re able to go through more than one cycle for one fee."
Fees for IVF programs vary across the country, but the cost of one fresh and one frozen IVF cycle at the CRH is $7,800 (without medications). The fee for the Shared Risk Refund Program is less than two cycles.
"By offering this exclusive program to our patients, it allows them to optimize their chances to take home a baby. While patients do pay more upfront than they would with just one cycle, the refund guarantee helps reduce the financial stress of treatment," says Dr. Williams.
The Shermans would have taken advantage of this program if it had been offered when they were undergoing IVF. "You pay so much money to get pregnant and you feel like you only have one shot. If it doesn’t work, you may not be able to afford to go through it again," says Angie.
Stress is one of the reasons it takes more than one cycle for some couples to conceive.
"There are so many things about IVF that are stressful," says Angie. "You worry about the cost and if it will work. If you can relieve that pressure by not having to pay for another cycle if it’s needed, you might be less stressed and more successful in getting pregnant."
For more information on the Shared Risk Program, visit www.ucfertility.com or call (513) 585-0768.