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For most young women, freezing eggs can markedly improve the chance of having a biological child later in life. If you’re considering it, you might wonder if it’s worth the hefty price. Crunch some numbers below to see how egg freezing might fit into your financial plans.
The Cost to Freeze Eggs
A single cycle of oocyte cryopreservation, the medical term for egg freezing, costs between $9,000 and $16,000, including medications. Most women need to undergo at least two of these cycles to bank enough eggs for multiple pregnancy attempts in the future. Many fertility clinics offer discounts on multiple cycles. Once your eggs are harvested and frozen, you’ll also pay for their storage, usually between $350 and $1,000 per year.
Example: A hypothetical 37-year-old woman in a moderate cost-of-living part of the country decides to do two cycles of egg freezing now and will try to use the eggs to get pregnant when she’s 44. Her estimated total costs for freezing and storage will be about $25,000. (N.B. Additional costs accrue when she goes to thaw, fertilize and implant her frozen eggs; approximately $5,000 per pregnancy attempt.)
How Much Will Freezing Eggs Improve Your Chance of Having a Baby?
The baby-benefits of egg freezing depend largely on your age at the time of freezing and how long you wait before trying to conceive. Generally, the younger you freeze your eggs, the more viable they're considered.
The chart below shows how egg-freezing improves the odds for women at different ages, based on an egg banking calculation tool developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina. (Click on the tool to compare benefits based on different lengths of time.) We used a seven-year time frame, which was the longest possible in the calculator, to allow for more life possibilities; such as finding a mate, or wanting siblings for children born earlier.
Example: Our 37-year-old will have a 51.3 percent chance of having a baby by the time she’s 44, if she freezes her eggs. If she doesn’t, her chances of having a baby are just 21.9 percent. She’s more than doubled her chances with the procedure, though it’s still a coin toss.
What’s a Chance for a Baby Worth?
We divided the total estimated cost of two cycles of egg freezing plus the necessary years of storage by a woman’s percent improvement in having a baby in the future, to reach the cost-per-percentage-point. As the chart below shows, freezing eggs sooner rather than later always improves a woman’s chances of having a baby later in life. But you only get real bang for your buck if you end up using those eggs to try to have a baby after your natural fertility has declined significantly.
Our hypothetical 37-year-old pays about $850 for each additional percent chance of having a baby by age 44. If she financed the procedure, and paid it off over seven years with interest, her cost per percentage point increase would rise to nearly $1,400.
Younger women who freeze their eggs, but end up having children before age 40, may get a much smaller fertility benefit, sometimes just a few percentage points, which may make the cost of egg freezing seem less worth it. However, if they wait until their 40s to try to conceive, having younger eggs on ice would improve their chances much more, which might make the cost worth that benefit.
Consider this as well: research studies and data from the Census Bureau suggest that women who delay childbearing end up earning more over the course of their careers. The difference can be enormous for women in higher paying occupations. A typical woman in the legal profession who waits until she’s in her late 30s or 40s to have children earns $32,407 more per year than a colleague who had kids a decade earlier. For women in all managerial and professional occupations, this decade delay leads to an average annual salary benefit of more than $10,000. After two and a half years, the typical well-paid 40-something mother of a preschool age kid would earn back the cost of freezing her eggs (four years if she financed it.)
Ways to Pay for Freezing Eggs
Freezing and storing your eggs is no light decision, and chances are you’re wondering how to come up with the funds. If you happen to have a good chunk of money burning a hole in your savings account, spending it on egg freezing comes with opportunity costs (of course!) Think about what else you might do with that money, like improving your home or apartment, taking some amazing vacations, or socking it away for retirement. If having a child is more important to you than those other creature comforts, using the money to freeze eggs might well be worthwhile.
Besides saving up and budgeting, there are a number of other alternatives that can help you manage costs:
Health Insurance: Even though the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says egg-freezing is no longer experimental, most health insurance plans still consider it elective and will not cover most of its costs. They might pay for some of the initial testing, such as blood lab work and the initial physician consultation, and some of the medications. But past that, the retrieval process which requires anesthesia, and the ongoing storage costs, are on you. Check with your health insurance provider to see what benefits are available to you.
Loans: Most fertility clinics accept credit cards, though your card’s limits might fall short of the entire amount, which often must be paid up front. If you’ll need to pay off the costs of egg-freezing over time, some clinics offer payment plans, or partner with financial institutions which will give qualified borrowers (i.e. those with strong credit scores) direct loans for the full amount of the planned treatment. Prosper Healthcare Lending and LendingClub are two examples of companies that handle many loans for fertility procedures, and can also be contacted directly. Programs like EggBanxx offer to match women up with fertility clinics, discount plans and financing. Eggbanxx promises 15 percent off the usual price charged by clinics in their network, as well as packages for one, two or three egg freezing cycles.
Annual interest rates for egg-freezing loans can be high, on average 15 percent, and the repayment schedule can stretch out to seven years. The loans are unsecured, meaning they can be discharged in bankruptcy and you’ll still own your eggs even if you can’t pay off the loans. For example, the 37-year-old woman needs to borrow the full $25,000 and finances it at 15 percent over seven years. She will pay about $482 per month during that time frame for a total of more than $40,000 over the course of the loan.
Employers: Two large tech companies, Apple and Facebook, made news in October of 2014 by announcing they would pay $20,000 towards any employee’s egg-freezing costs, whether it was for non-medical or medical reasons. (Some women freeze their eggs before starting medical treatments like chemotherapy or radiation, which can damage the ovaries and lead to infertility.) These technology companies are likely the exception to the rule, but could be the start of a new trend of employee benefits and perks.
Crowdfunding: Those who haven’t saved up in advance could try asking family members to chip in, and some women have even tried crowdfunding on sites like GoFundMe and GiveForward where women freezing eggs (usually for medical reasons such as endometriosis or cancer) have raised as much as $8,720 for their cause.
Is it worth it for you to spend $25,000 or more to undergo egg freezing and keep the baby option open later in life? Like all things related to women’s reproductive choices, it’s ultimately a very personal decision.