On July 25, 1978 Louise Brown, the first IVF baby was born in Great Britain. Since then, more than 8 million babies have been born worldwide via IVF.
IVF is the process of combining a woman’s eggs with a man’s sperm in a lab, growing that embryo for 3-5 days, and then inserting it back into the woman’s uterus.
1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility and with some medical conditions, IVF is the only way to conceive a child. Many people don’t understand IVF, so I’m here to debunk 5 myths of IVF and tell you what really happens.
1. Belief: It’s just a physical procedure
Truth: It’s also an emotional procedure
While this is a medical procedure, the emotional and mental part of IVF is worse in my opinion. First off, you’re mixing medications and then injecting them into yourself several times per day. For many women, the additional hormones can take them on an emotional rollercoaster. There’s also added pressure, as many couples can only afford one cycle and this is their last chance at having a child naturally.
2. Belief: Infertility is not a medical condition
Truth: Most infertility cases stem from a medical issue with the reproductive system
In 2017, the World Health Organization officially recognized infertility as a disease. Many women who can’t conceive have an underlying medical condition like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, blocked tubes, or an irregular uterus.
3. Belief: It’s always an issue with the woman
Truth: 40-50% of men have male factor infertility
Men can exhibit one or a combination of low sperm concentration, poor sperm motility (movement), or abnormal morphology (shape). This can cause the egg to not be fertilized in the woman’s body and there is an IVF component called ICSI, where one sperm is directly inserted into one egg to help overcome this.
4. Belief: Insurance covers the cost
Truth: Only 13 states have mandated infertility coverage
The average cost of an IVF cycle is $15,000 and can go up to $25,000 or $30,000 depending on the type of treatment needed. Many women will need more than one cycle to conceive one child, and will undergo additional cycles for their second and third child. While some insurance companies will cover tests related to the diagnosis, the treatments are not covered in America. 13 states mandate that companies over 50 offer infertility coverage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean IVF.
5. Belief: IVF always works
Truth: The average success rate is 39.6%
While IVF is the best chance for couples with infertility challenges to conceive (besides a miracle), the average cycle per IVF transfer is only 39.6%. That number drops to 11.5% for women over 40. Imagine spending $15,000, injecting yourself with medications for weeks, undergoing surgery, and then finding out it didn’t work.