How Much Does It Cost to Delay Your Biological Clock?

Libby Kane
Posted

One of our most popular and controversial articles this year estimated the cost of raising a child. We are excited for the discussion surrounding another controversial topic: oocyte cryopreservation, freezing eggs for a later pregnancy.

We’ve chosen this topic because multiple readers have written in to ask about it: 54% of American clinics offer it and 1,500 babies have been created via frozen eggs. In a study that examined students’ attitudes toward egg freezing, about half said that they would consider the procedure—especially the ones expecting to have demanding careers. Whether or not this is something that interests you personally (and regardless of how you feel about the issue), we think it’s an interesting topic. As always, we want you to know your options.

Egg Freezing Can Cost Nearly $20,000

Egg freezing is a three-part process:

1. Extraction: This includes hormone injections, mandatory injection class, and surgical extraction of the eggs. The usual price range is $7,000 to $13,000.
2. Storage: Many centers offer the first year of storage free. Thereafter, it costs about $400 per year.
3. Implantation: The thawing and surgical implantation of the eggs is a separate procedure, and is generally not included in the initial price estimate. The usual price for this separate procedure is at least another $4,000 to $5,000.

Total cost for extraction, five years of storage and implantation: $12,600 to $19,600.

Freezing Is Kind of a Big Deal

Women planning to undergo the procedure need to self-administer hormone injections for a few weeks before the out-patient surgery, which can have side effects including overheating, mood swings, and severe bloating. Largely regarded by the medical community as an experimental procedure, doctors only actively recommend it for cancer patients who may lose fertility.

It Costs a Lot of Money, But Is Often Unsuccessful

Although this procedure increases a woman’s chances of having a baby later in life, it can’t guarantee success. At least eight eggs need to be taken for the procedure to be considered successful. Some are expected to die or be damaged during freezing, and the surviving eggs have only a 30% chance of implanting successfully.

The Benefits Might Be Priceless

It’s impossible to say whether or not this procedure is worth its price tag because it’s one of life’s most personal purchases. Women who are pleased with the results often feel liberated from the constant ticking of a biological clock and its resulting pressure on relationships. That said, these newly-liberated women were able to afford the procedure upfront and didn’t acquire debt as a result, which is a wholly different kind of cage.

Is a sometimes-ineffective stop button on your biological clock worth $19,000? Only you can say. Tell us in the comments below!

  • carolinewaxler

    Great piece, Libby, and such an important topic that isn't covered widely enough. There's a great book–”In Her Own Sweet Time”–that readers should get to learn more.

  • http://christinewilson.ca Christine Wilson

    I think it's worth the $19,000 if you have a high paying job. It's all relative to your situation in life. If it puts you in debt it becomes a “no”. With a success rate of 30%, there is a great chance that you will never become pregnant. This procedure would be more worth the cost if the success rate was higher. After paying this high price, there is a good chance the woman will never have kids. It seems to me that having kids shouldn't be the highest priority in a woman's life if she chooses this route. If having kids is a high priority, she will have to compromise some of her career instead, not freezing her eggs.

  • Guest

    Hello? What about adoption? I think you should have mentioned this option, as there are so many children needing good homes. Why not advocate for that rather than have readers go into debt to have a biological child?

    • http://twitter.com/amkade Allison Kade

      Hi Guest,

      That's a great point! I think it would actually be really interesting for us to investigate the cost of adoption. We're not necessarily advocating in either direction with this article, but we've had multiple readers tell us that this is a path they're considering, so we wanted to answer their questions about whether the cost is too prohibitive. What do you think? Do you have any experience with adoption or insight into how long the process takes and how difficult it is?

      Allison
      Editor

    • iLikeShoes

      Adoption is a great idea if you can't conceive, but also very expensive. I have coworkers and family members who have adopted, so I have heard their stories. If adopting from another country, you need to save up usually weeks of vacation time so that you can be in that country for a certain period of time before bringing the child home. It is not an easy process. If adopting within the US, you may be called with a day or two's notice that a baby is ready for you and suddenly you need to give work notice that you will be taking your adoption leave effective in one day. Some work places are not so understanding when it comes to that.

  • http://blog.perkstreet.com PerkStreet Jen

    Of the people who have their eggs frozen, be careful not to assume they're all from people who want to take pressure off their biological clocks. Some young cancer patients use this as a way to ensure their eggs are healthy before they undergo chemo. You can read more about it at Fertile Hope: http://www.fertilehope.org/financial-assistance

    @Guest, adoption can actually be as debt-producing as other forms of family building. Depending on where the adoption takes place, it can cost upwards of $40,000.

  • Rachel

    I'd love to see an article on the costs of adoption.

  • http://www.moneyedup.com Moneyedup

    I agree that exploring the costs of adoption would be a good follow up to this article. Putting a price on the conception of a child seems quite unnatural to me, but I have never been in the position where I want to delay having children. It is in your 20s when you have the best chance of establishing a great career, and why should women have to sacrifice their careers for motherhood? I have friends who have been laid off while they were on maternity leave. You really shouldn't have to choose between having a family and having a career, but it is a reality that women have to face every day.

  • Jaemcats

    For a young woman who may be losing fertility due to cancer treatments I think it's a wonderful idea and as far as I'm concerned should be covered for cancer treatments. Otherwise I think it's not so good. It's expensive low benefit and having a child when younger you can keep up with it better.

  • Julianna

    I'd also like to see (not that they likely have any data on this yet) what the long-term effects are on a child that was conceived using a frozen egg. Do the children grow up to have any developmental issues later in life? That's also an important and worthwhile issue to consider.

    • http://twitter.com/TheEmpoweredEgg The Empowered Egg

      Studies show that the rate of birth defects and chromosomal defects when using cryopreserved oocytes is consistent with that of natural conception.

  • Gracefaoro

    There should be more/ better data. I have a very good health insurance plan that covers most of the costs! So this is tempting to me and I’m 39!!!!!!

    • km

       what insurance plan do you have? is it billed under the actual service or something else? i didn’t realize they would cover something elective like this ever…

      • CGM

        Im interested to know as well. About the insurance i mean. Im considering doing this. I would love to try now but my pcos is preventing. Im working with my doctor abut the pcos but i would like to do this as well.