We know that rearing children is a costly endeavour, as is adoption. But just getting pregnant can cost a pretty penny too (not to mention the emotional toll it can often exert on hopeful parents-to-be). With about one in six couples affected, here is a rundown of what it might cost you to get pregnant in Canada.
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Healthcare is a provincial jurisdiction. For this reason, citizens and residents are covered by OHIP in Ontario and its provincial counterparts elsewhere. The costs of getting pregnant will vary province-to-province (and territory to territory), but in each, prepare to cover fertility drug costs, at a minimum. This said, several provinces have programs in place to help support expectant parents. In Ontario for example, the provincial government introduced a Fertility Program that helps cover some of the costs for fertility treatments. Some costs may also be offset through company drug plans and tax credits, but with job precarity on the rise, not everyone can lean on health benefits for this coverage.
Related: 10 widely-believed myths about pregnancy.
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Just priming your body and getting that sought-after positive comes with costs (healthier eating can come at a premium, for starters). Additionally, the mother-to-be is supposed to take prenatal vitamins 1 to 3 months ahead of conception to help reduce risks of some birth defects. There are ovulation strips to help pinpoint the optimal time for getting it on, and then, of course, there are the pregnancy tests (assuming you may need more than one). There are even male fertility tests to help detect low sperm count, if you’re going the more traditional route with a male partner or known donor. So let’s start here: Prenatal vitamins (90 tablets): $45-$90 Ovulation Strips (10 strips): $37 Pregnancy tests (3 tests): $25 Male fertility tests: $55 Total: $162 - $207
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Fertility tests and consultations
If you don’t get pregnant by natural means after one year of trying for women 35 and younger, a couple or mother may want to start looking into seeking assistance (start after six months if the woman is older than 35). The first step is getting a battery of fertility tests to help pinpoint what’s complicating fertility. Worth noting is that while most of the diagnostic testing is covered by provincial healthcare, not all tests are free (such as DNA fragmentation and AMH). Fertility tests and consultations: $200-$300
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If the results come back inconclusive, one of the first steps might include putting the patient on a mix of fertility drugs and vitamin cocktails (this cocktail can include prenatal vitamins, CoQ10, Omegas, iron, vitamins C, D and B12). There are three types of fertility drugs: Oral: These include tablets such as clomiphene citrate Off-label: These include a Human Growth Hormone (HGH) drug and Letrozole (similar to the oral drug above, but off-label means it’s traditionally used to treat a different condition — in this case as a treatment to prevent breast cancer recurrence) Injectables: These include gonadotropins such as synthetic hormones meant to stimulate the production of sperm and ova Fertility drugs (depending on each person’s protocol): Around $3,000 - $5,000
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Surgery may be one way to address suboptimal fertility in cases where there are blocked fallopian tubes, to retrieve eggs or sperm for fertility treatments, or to reverse sterilization surgeries like vasectomies and tubal ligation. While most surgeries are covered by provincial health care, reverse vasectomies can cost upwards of $5,000 and don’t guarantee your main squeeze’s troops will be back on active duty.
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Intrauterine insemination (IUI):
One possible treatment for couples who don’t have a definitive diagnosis for infertility, but aren’t yet ready to go the full IVF route, can go the intrauterine insemination (IUI) route. This includes something called the sperm wash (it’s a lot more clinical than it sounds); it’s the process by which individual sperm are separated from the semen. Ontario covers unlimited IUIs, but patients have to cover the cost of drugs, and sperm storage, and chances of success vary. IUI cost per cycle (outside of Ontario): $1,500 - $4,000 Sperm wash: $500
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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):
This is the most expensive treatment, but it also offers the best chances for successful impregnation. There are two types of IVF. One is to “sprinkle” retrieved eggs with about 100,000 sperm, or to inject the sperm into the egg to guarantee fertilization (this route is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI for short). IVF cost per cycle: $10,000 - $15,000
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Freezing, donor eggs & sperm
For those who are planning to get pregnant, but right now is not the time, freezing eggs for future use might be an option (some IVF protocols also call for this if first rounds of IVF aren’t successful). While recommendations suggest the ideal time to freeze eggs is under 35 years of age (our eggs age as we do), women over that age can certainly do this too. But mind the cost. Other options include donor eggs and sperm. In Canada, paying for eggs is not legal, so any donation has to be altruistic in spirit. This said, the donor would have to undergo a round of IVF for the eggs to be harvested, so there is cost to this as well (see slide 4). Freezing eggs: $9,000-$10,000 Donor egg: $0 Plus cost of additional drugs Donor sperm (one to five units): $800 - $1,000
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Some turn to acupuncturists, naturopaths and chiropractors who specialize in fertility, and these come with their own fees and expenses, and vary clinic to clinic. Sometimes, prospective parents turn to these alongside traditional western routes, and sometimes as alternatives. However, they fall within the range of several hundred dollars per session.
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Even costs like transportation and parking at fertility clinics can come at a premium, considering the frequency of necessary visits (several times a week in some cases). Additionally, the storage of sperm and ovarian reserves also comes at a cost, but varies clinic to clinic -- typically $500 for each (depending on how accessible clinics are in your community). Add to this the time and emotional costs devoted to this, and the costs quickly grow beyond a simple dollar value.