I am feeling slightly out of my mind with the thought of moving forward with IVF. We definitely don’t have that kind of money. Neither of us have talked to our parents about this whole babymaking (or is that gabymaking…) thing we are doing over here. Even if we did neither of us want to trouble our parents to ask for help financially with this. In light of that we will be pursuing IVF by financing the procedure. I truly, truly hate the thought of that, as we are still working through many years of student loan debt. I *just* paid off my car. And it looks like we will be financing IVF for roughly the same cost per month. Sigh. It’s just so damn expensive!
In light of that and at the RE’s encouragement we have been researching whether to do IUI or Invocell. I feel like there are drawbacks and benefits to each but at the end of the day they are both a gamble. With IUI, our odds of conception for each attempt are somewhere between 14% and 30% likelihood of conceiving after 4 procedures. These percentages came from my RE and from a research study on women in the over 35 age bracket. My RE thinks I’ve got a pretty good shot at conceiving with IUI because my AMH was 2.66 which is great for my age. Personally, I don’t like our chances with IUI at all. Four IUI’s would run us about $12,000 over the course of 3-4 months and at the end of that I have a 30% chance of being pregnant. $12K for a 30% chance seems like an awful lot of money. BUT on the off chance it worked the first or second try that would *almost* be affordable without any financing. Which would be SO NICE to not go into debt just trying to make a baby. Ah, tempting to entertain that nice, rosy thought. But these rusty raisins I have for ovaries are a little too geriatric to be hanging that kind of hope on them functioning just right, methinks.
Invocell is interesting. I hadn’t heard of it before the appointment with my RE. Basically, if you aren’t familiar, I would do a minimal stimulation protocol followed by an egg retrieval procedure. It would be pretty similar to what I would do for regular IVF except there is less monitoring prior to the retrieval and the meds would be different. Following the retrieval, a small capsule would be filled with my eggs and the donor sperm. This small plastic capsule would be inserted into me like a tampon and held in place for 5 days with a diaphragm. Basically, I incubate my own embryos. Following that, the device is removed and an embryo or two is transferred into my uterus. The cost is about half of an IVF procedure which is nice. One of the reasons for the reduced cost is that there are no fees from the embryologist since I do the incubating part. Another reason is a lighter med schedule is used with less monitoring prior to the retrieval.
All of that sounds pretty great and the odds of conception are in fact near what you would expect to get from IVF. My major, major concern with this procedure is that there is a big possibility that after a minimal stimulation protocol I may not have any extra embryos to freeze… which means if it doesn’t work the first time I’ll be going through another retrieval and then IVF (because who wants to waste another 9 grand on something that didn’t work!). So if I do this and there are no embryos to freeze and it doesn’t work, I will have just threw away $9000 with nothing to show for it. Comparing that with IVF, if it didn’t work the first time and I had to come back for a second transfer my odds are much, much higher that I will have frozen embryos left from the retrieval. A transfer without a retrieval procedure is around $4000 so you can see that over time with multiple attempts the IVF would be cheaper. Now, if I knew Invocell would work the first time then that certainly would be my choice at half the price.
Another thing that concerns me is that this is a brand spankin’ new technology. UCSF is still doing clinical trials on it. So that means for $9K I basically get to be a guinea pig. I think, if the price tag was lower or there was more information about the efficacy and the likelihood of extra embryos I might feel more confident about making this gamble. As it stands I’m pretty nervous about putting all of my hopes and dreams on a new technology without a lot of real-world data behind it.
I think we are going to take a month or two off in order to figure out how to best proceed. I’m excited but I feel so absolutely out of my mind to even be considering something like IVF with that sort of price tag. It’s so. much. money.
Well, if any of you readers out there have used Invocell I’d love some insight. How did it go for you? Were there embryos left over to freeze? I would consider Invocell more if I knew there might be some embryos for another transfer later. Or how did you ultimately decide for or against IVF? What factors tipped the scales for you?