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Money Woes Keeping Many Couples From Fertility Treatments
Date:10/22/2009

They're foregoing expensive therapies or opting to discard stored embryos, studies show

THURSDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A squeeze on finances is now playing a key role in many couples' decisions about fertility treatments, including whether they will try to conceive using assisted reproductive technology or whether they will discard leftover embryos put into storage, new studies show.

Among the new findings, presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Atlanta:

  • More than half (58 percent) of couples diagnosed as infertile who opted not to pursue treatment said cost was the primary reason;
  • About 7 percent of couples who had leftover embryos in cold storage discarded the embryos from October 2008 to March 2009, a number that was almost three times higher than six months prior;
  • About 57 percent of young women who donated eggs to infertile couples in 2008 now say they planned to use the money to pay for school, up from 28 percent in 2002-2004.

Given the high cost of fertility treatments, which are often not covered by insurance, experts said they weren't surprised by the findings. A single cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) costs about $12,000, and several cycles may be needed, according to the ASRM.

Yet some fertility experts said they were hesitant to blame the recession on the new numbers. Dr. Peter McGovern, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Hackensack University Medical Center, said his practice is as busy as ever.

"We're not seeing much of a difference, quite honestly, compared to better times," McGovern said. "It could be that the drive to reproduce is so important people are somehow making it happen."

In one study, researchers followed 448 infertile couples from eight fertility clinics for 18 months. Of those, about 27 percent decided not to pu
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