Infertility sucks!!! There I said it and I bet right now you’re thinking, tell me something I don’t know!
I know it sucks and you know it sucks but for everyone around you it can seem just like something you have to deal with. Comments like “Just stop worrying and it will happen” or “Why don’t you just adopt?” simply don’t help. I know people have good intentions but sometimes you wish they could switch places with you for just one day to see what you’re going through.
The journey to start or extend your family with IVF can be long, emotional and physically draining with no guarantee of a successful outcome. And for many the financial burden is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome but there are ways that you can raise money to fund your fertility journey.
From crowdfunding to asking family and friends for support there are a growing number of ways that you can raise part if not all of the money needed.
Some of the options laid out below you may have already heard about or even tried but in my experience, there are always new and unexplored avenues.
The key is to approach this as a savvy shopper. You need to ensure that you’re getting the best financial deal, at the best fertility clinic for you.
Some clinics offer the option to pay in regular monthly instalments so always ask about their payment plans. Other clinics partner with companies such as Access Fertility, Redia IVF or Gaia Family who can provide financing options for you.
Here are some ways to help to raise money and cut the costs of your treatment.
Each NHS Clinical Commission Group (or CCG’s) set the criteria for funding IVF in the UK. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (or Nice for short) has guidelines that state that if you are a woman under 40 years old you should be offered 3 full cycles of IVF. Some clinics will offer 1 fresh cycle and 2 frozen cycles which would count toward your 3 cycles.
Even though these guidelines are in place if you are a single woman or same-sex female couple most CCGs consider you not eligible for treatment. You should make sure you have explored all your options when it comes to NHS funding. If you have been referred by your GP to a fertility specialist or fertility clinic, they will be able to help you with completing the relevant forms needed for a referral to your local CCG.
There is often confusion over who is eligible for funding especially when you take into account age, the part of the UK in which you live (also known as the dreaded IVF Postcode Lottery) and if you or your partner has children from a previous relationship.
Saving Money on Your Fertility Medication
One area that couples can really make a big saving is getting their fertility medication from a third party instead of the pharmacy your clinic uses. FACT: Your medication can account for up to 40% of the total cost of your IVF treatment.
The Fertility Medication Centre based in London is a not-for-profit company that has negotiated some of the best pricing which they can pass on to you. Once you’ve been assigned your treatment plan by the clinic, they will give you a prescription for your fertility medication. You simply send them your prescription and they will give you a price and once accepted your medication will be delivered to your home at a time that suits you. Take a look at their website for more information. thefertilitymedicationcentre.com
Launched in 2017, The Fertility Foundation is a UK fertility charity set up to help men and women access one-time grants of up to £5,000. In the last few months, they have funded several rounds of IVF for couples who are expecting their babies later this year. Their fertility grants applications are open twice a year and available via their website. fertilityfoundation.org
Like other companies that have come before them Gaia Family is looking to change the way people pay for and access fertility treatments by providing personalised insurance and financing plans. Their website has an intuitive step-by-step guide to help you review and plan your treatment. gaiafamily.com
Access Fertility partners with clinics across the UK and offer multiple treatment plans. From their 100% Unlimited Programme to their IVF Multi Cycle Programme, their dedicated UK team can guide you through their financing options. accessfertility.com
Redia IVF offer multicycle refund guarantee programmes in several different countries. They can help you manage a budget that is affordable to you. www.rediaivf.com
This might sound a bit odd but the fact is that some clinics are more expensive than others. I know some of you may like the clinic you’ve been referred to or maybe someone you know went there and was successful. Finding the right clinic for you is a personal choice but if one clinic is charging £15,000 per cycle (yes, they exist) and another clinic with equally good reviews and HFEA ranking is offering the same treatment for £3,500 it would be a good idea to look at your options. Most clinics also offer free online or in-person consultations so you can get a feel for the clinic and their team.
As with choosing any clinic, you can find out more information about each clinic from the HFEA website www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic
Have a holiday, have a baby
You’ve seen the ads online for clinics abroad. “We guarantee a baby” or “No baby, no fee”. These are the ads I want you to skip but there are definitely options for you to go abroad for IVF treatment. If you’ve been thinking about travelling abroad for treatment you are not alone. Thousands of people take this route each year to hotspots like Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece and Norway to name a few. Fertility Clinics Abroad website has a huge list of clinics and you can download their IVF Abroad guide which has 98 pages of the top 10 countries to visit. www.fertilityclinicsabroad.com/ivf-abroad-guide/
Crowdfunding via sites like Go Fund Me or Just giving are still extremely popular. If you feel comfortable in sharing your personal journey with the world, crowdfunding could work for you. If you’re lucky enough, complete strangers are often willing to help. Putting your personal life out into the world isn’t for everyone and there are no guarantees that you’ll raise the money but these sites have been used as gateways to receiving help. In 2020 there was a same-sex female couple on one of these crowdfunding sites and I was really moved by their story. I contacted them and with the help of one of our partner clinics managed to get their fertility treatment covered.
Asking Your Family and Friends
I know a lot of couples who have turned to their family and friends for help. This includes grandparents, parents and friends offering loans or even gifting their loved ones’ money.
The Baby Budget
News stories arise of young people saving £20,000 in 2 years to buy a house, the latest from a 22-year-old who did just that. She still had holidays and socialised but she budgeted for everything.
She also moved back in with her parents instead of renting and cut out the unnecessary luxuries like Sky, Netflix, the cheeky coffee or two and all those additional items that come out of your bank account each month that all really add up. This can be difficult if you own your own home, you already have a family or can’t work but it’s never a bad idea to know where your money is going each month.
So now it’s over to you. For some of you, your dream of having a baby may seem too far for you to reach. And sadly, for some, it might not happen. I wish there was a magic way to ease the journey ahead but wherever this road takes you I wish you all the happiness in the world.
When I started writing this article, I thought about the last 11 years of helping people start or extend their families. I know I started out talking about how infertility sucks and I stick by that. However, I have witnessed some of the most beautiful acts of kindness from people who have very little but have given so much to help people like you achieve their dreams of having a baby.
From my past experience of running Fertility Road Magazine to starting The Fertility Foundation, being able to help people achieve their dreams is what gets me out of bed each morning. But it’s more than that. Being there to support those who have been unsuccessful is as important to me as helping those who are. I wish you good luck on your fertility journey wherever that may lead you.