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

rsue treatments including in vitro fertilization, in which the egg and sperm are joined outside the womb and then the embryo is placed back into the mother.

About 58 percent of these couples said the primary reason to discontinue treatments was money, 38 percent cited life conflicts such as moving or a death in the family, and 26 percent cited medical futility.

Depression and increasing age also made it less likely a couple would pursue treatment, while those with a college education and higher incomes were more likely to go through with it.

"It's financially challenging for some patients to pursue fertility treatments," said Andrew La Barbera, scientific director of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "In most states insurance coverage for assisted reproductive technology [ART] is not mandated. Most patients have to pay for ART procedures themselves and it's not easy."

Financial stress linked to a worsening economy may be prompting more couples to dispose of leftover embryos being kept in cold storage, a second study found.

Researchers found that between October 2008 and March 2009, about 7 percent of couples discarded frozen embryos, compared to rates between 4.3 percent and 2.3 percent in the two years prior.

Fees to store embryos at minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit can cost several hundred dollars a year. For many couples, deciding what to do with unused embryos is a difficult ethical and emotional decision. The researchers concluded that "extreme economic conditions have forced patients to address an issue they have historically chosen to postpone when financially viable."

The economic downturn may even be affecting the decisions of egg donors, who are paid between $4,000 to $10,000 to donate eggs to infertile women undergoing IVF.

In another study presented at the ASRM meeting, researchers found little change over the past few years in prospective egg donors' average age,
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