Many millennial women have turned the corner on when and how we want to start families by focusing on career and personal goals first. As many of us begin to approach our early to mid-30s, we may start to look into ways to fit motherhood into our 5-year plan, but that may mean exploring our options. IVF, egg freezing, and artificial insemination all have their own sets of risks and rewards. How do you know which is best for you? Well, the best place to start is by knowing what each route truly entails and how much it's going to cost you. For some women, the choice will be only your own if you're choosing to go at it alone. For others, you'll be needing to make a decision with a partner who may have their own set of requirements.
So, here are the things you need to consider before choosing a non-traditional route to pregnancy.
Arrange for a Fertility Test
First things first, it's a good idea to know where you stand on fertility, in general. Now more than ever, it's easy to determine how much time you may have before you even have to start considering alternative conceiving options. You can get a test from your doctor to analyze your anti-Müllerian hormone levels. These hormones are released by a woman's eggs and, chances are, if you've got AMH in plenty, you're in a pretty good place regarding your chances of conceiving. Also, you can test your fertility at home with a kit from companies like Modern Fertility or Let'sGetChecked. Don't worry if your levels are low. Lifestyle changes and other suggestions can increase your fertility.
Freezing Your Eggs
For many of us, finding the right partner at the right time and start planning an intentional future together seems very far away. Whether it's the dystopian universe that is the dating world or just simply needing more time before making such a huge decision, pregnancy may not be the first goal on your immediate life checklist. However, our biological clocks don't have a snooze button. Freezing your eggs can give you peace and stop you from obsessing over time, but the process is a bit intense and expensive.
The steps are as follows:
Blood is drawn to determine your ovarian reserve. Then it's time to take synthetic hormones to create more follicles and prevent you from ovulating before retrieval, which is a (self-inflicted) injection of human chorionic gonadotropin to help the eggs mature. Finally, a needle is inserted to suction the eggs out. This procedure can run you anywhere between $15,000-20,000 plus the cost to store them, which can be about $1,200 a year.
IUI aka Artificial Insemination
If you're prepared to start your pregnancy journey and are merely in need of a head-start to get things moving, IUI or artificial insemination may work for you. Less invasive, more affordable, and more common than IVF, IUI is a great option for women who have been trying to conceive with their partners or who don't have a partner but want to move ahead with motherhood alone. It's an outpatient procedure which means you can arrange for IUI in the middle of a workday and be back before you clock out. An IUI cycle begins on the first day of your period; for 12-14 days, a doctor will monitor your cycle and make sure an egg is ready for ovulation. Once ready, the sperm sample is inserted into the vagina, and nature is left to run its course. An unmedicated IUI cycle costs about $1,000. A medicated one may cost $1,000-2000 more.
Finally, if you've been trying to conceive and have run into obstacles, IVF can be a great resource. With a price tag of about $20,000 on the low end and no guarantees on conception, this is definitely a gamble. Not too crazy of a risk; however, IVF has about a 50% success rate. This procedure allows for a large number of eggs to be removed from a woman at once, fertilized outside of the uterus, and then put back in once the embryos have developed. The hope is once returned to the woman's body, conception will occur. Another upside of IVF is genetic testing. Once fertilized, the embryos can be assessed for gender selection and determine any health factors or concerns. Meaning you can ultimately choose not only the gender of the child but ensure that you're bringing the healthiest of the bunch into the world. For those with a history of family illness, this can be a real-life-saver.
Time is relative when it comes to planning for childbearing but having a plan always makes the road easier. If motherhood is on your list of things to do in the near or far future, knowing all of your options can help you and/or your partner loosen your grip on timelines and be able to move ahead with confidence when you're ready.