A necessary step for many LGBTQIA+ couples is embryo creation — a fertility procedure that allows you to combine sperm and eggs in a lab in order to create a child. If a couple does not have both a sperm and egg source in their relationship (i.e., two men), then a sperm or egg donor source is needed. This process can be expensive, and it’s important to take the financial aspects of this first step to family building into account.
Let’s consider a same-sex male couple that needs an egg donor – for example, Ian and Steve, based in Orange County, CA. While it’s true that embryo creation is a significant investment of time and resources, there are many options for managing or lowering the costs of treatment so that you can move forward with the process. Here are our top financial planning tips and resources to support your parenthood journey.
Big Picture: The Cost
Before Ian and Steve can determine how to pay for embryo creation, it’s important they have a sense of the total cost. Their first step is selecting an egg donor. Nowadays, there are’s two options. One is to select a fresh egg donor from a donor database who undergoes an IVF cycle for the purpose of creating embryos for this couple, typically the couple’s fertility doctor will be the one caring for the donor and doing the egg retrieval procedure. Her base fee for her time is set by her, and usually starts at $9,000. However, experienced donors can charge up to $30,000 or even more per cycle. In addition to her base fee, there will be costs associated with her travel, potential insurance, and legal costs to set things up right for both parties and your future children. The total package will be around $30,000 and up.
Another option, as an alternative to a fresh donor, is to use frozen donor eggs. In this case, the donor has previously undergone ovarian stimulation, had her eggs retrieved and the resulting eggs are divided into batches (typically 6-9 eggs) and then are available for purchase by intended parents. This option may end up being slightly less expensive and a faster route to becoming pregnant, depending on the availability of finding a fresh donor you are comfortable with. In cases where intended parents are aiming to have more than one child, the cost with frozen eggs may end up being comparable to a fresh donor.
The second big piece of the puzzle are the medical costs. This includes fertility medication for the donor as well as the procedure itself of retrieving her eggs, the sperm retreival (many same sex male couples will each contribute sperm) and the lab and medical costs of creating embryos in your IVF clinic. The typical cost for a single round of egg retrieval is usually between $7,500 - $12,000, plus medication and anesthesia. In addition, the ongoing storage costs can range between about $600-$1000 per year. Finally, creating embryos and testing their quality can be another $3,000 - $5,000.
Ian and Steve may not be able to accurately predict all of these variables in advance, but identifying their longer-term reproductive goals and mapping out a vision can help them prepare as much as possible for the total investment. Setting up a consultation with a fertility clinic can be a good first step toward getting the information they need to plan accordingly. The cost of a consultation typically ranges from $250-$500, and clinics typically list these fees on their website or can provide specific information over the phone.
All in, the cost of embryo creation typically ranges from $50,000 – 65,000. So, how do intended parents pay for all of this?
Savings and Support From Family and Friends
Some intended parents may have money in a savings account that they can use for part of their expenses. If you have questions about getting started with a savings account, a financial planner or a budgeting tool like NerdWallet, Mint or Savology can help you determine how much money you may need to seek through grants, loans, and other resources.
Loans and Grants
Many individuals and couples fund a portion of their egg freezing expenses through a personal loan. There are companies that provide loans for fertility treatments, with flexible monthly payment options, such as Sunfish. Sunfish offers loans starting at $200 per month (assuming a $12,000 loan at today's APR, with a 7 year term). Regardless of which lender you choose, verify the interest rate and any other fees. (Great news: the Sunfish application fee is waived for OC Fertility patients!)
In addition, many companies and organizations offer grants that help cover a portion of fertility treatment costs. Some are based on income level and demonstrated financial need while others are designed to support specific groups including members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color.
Men Having Babies, which supports gay men and couples in starting their families through surrogacy, offers income-based cash grants through the Gay Parenting Assistance Program. In addition, Family Equality has a list of family-building grants that help LGBTQ+ families afford fertility treatment. Gays with Kids’s GWK Acadamy offers one of the most comprehensive entry points, with educational resources and discounts. You can also search for additional grant opportunities through RESOLVE.
Health Insurance Coverage and Workplace Benefits
Some health insurance plans offer partial or full coverage of egg freezing-related costs including medications and IVF. Note that most insurance plans have separate medical and pharmacy benefits. In most cases, professional services provided by your doctor or clinic will fall under medical benefits. Fertility medications will likely fall under pharmacy benefits, though in some cases they may fall under your medical benefits.
In this case, Ian has a health savings account (HSA) and Steve has a flexible spending account (FSA) — two types of pre-tax accounts that can be used for healthcare expenses. Unfortunately, current laws make it rare for same-sex male couples pursuing surrogacy to qualify to use these accounts for this process. Please check with an expert to see if your specific need to create embryos with a donor is considered a medical expense (laws vary and continue to evolve). If you are eligible, consider planning ahead to use these accounts to reduce the total cost of your fertility treatments and your taxable income.
Some employers offer egg freezing coverage as part of their employee benefits, separate from your health insurance plan. Do not be discouraged if you learn that your employer doesn’t currently cover egg freezing: employers who offer fertility coverage often do so in response to an employee’s request. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, a nonprofit that supports individuals and couples affected by infertility, has resources to help you start a conversation with your employer about fertility coverage benefits.
Clinic Financing and Payment Plans
The total embryo creation expenses also depend on your choice of fertility clinic. Most clinics can share the total out of pocket costs for egg freezing if you do not have any insurance coverage. Since Ian and Steve are based in Orange County, CA, they were interested in finding a nearby clinic that would make their visits to and from the clinic as easy as possible.
The Bottom Line
For Ian and Steve, starting with financial planning was an important first step to feel ready to build a family. But the bottom line is – there are lots of resources to help you take that first step.
Looking to start your LGTBQ+ fertility journey? The first step is often the hardest one to take!
Feel free to reach out to Sunfish for a free financial consultation at www.joinsunfish.com, or, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started, find us on social media @sunfishtech, or call us at 510-775-0064.
Feel free to reach out to OC Fertility for a consultation by text at 949-996-9522, email, or find us across social media @ocfertility.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.