As an alternative to remedy infertility issues that affect about one in six heterosexual couples in Canada, individuals can choose to go for remedies like Surrogacy, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and adoption.
These alternatives are legal and, in some provinces, funded in Canada. Bear in mind that infertility treatments are quite expensive, especially for IVF. The average cost of getting IVF in Canada depends on several factors like the province, insurance, medical center, etc.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure where follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) are injected into the ovaries to release multiple eggs during ovulation. About eight-fifteen eggs are retrieved with a needle during ovulation to aid the IVF process.
IVF is a treatment solution that people seek to tackle infertility. To begin your treatment, you must consult with a physician who can diagnose and discuss your case. Then, your physician will recommend IVF if it is the right option for your case. There are several procedures and medications involved in a cycle of IVF, and more than one process is required to achieve the desired result.
In IVF, sperm and egg are combined outside the body to make an embryo. The embryo can either be frozen for future pregnancy or transferred back into the patient’s uterus. Your physician must do the transfer within three to five days to be effective.
The eggs at this point will have multiplied and contain several cells that’ll better the chance of implanting on the uterine wall. The number of IVF cycles required per patient depends on age, medical history, lifestyle, current medical conditions, etc. Click here to read our article on Surrogacy.
There are several procedures involved in an IVF cycle, some of which include:
- Ovulation Induction
During the IVF cycle procedure, the ovaries are stimulated with medications to produce eggs. The administration of drugs and dosage is per the patient’s treatment plan.
- Egg retrieval
The eggs are retrieved before ovulation once it has hit maturity. Depending on the egg produced, your doctor can retrieve multiple eggs. Your doctor will then incubate the retrieved eggs to be fertilized by a sperm.
- Sperm retrieval
Sperm samples are needed to aid the IVF procedure. You can retrieve sperm through masturbation or testicular aspiration. Once sperm is retrieved, your doctor will separate semen fluid in preparation for fertilization.
Fertilization is where the retrieved egg and sperm are mixed. If the fertilization process is successful, it will produce an embryo(s). There are currently two fertilization methods; insemination and Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Insemination involves incubating healthy sperms and eggs, while ICSI involves injecting a healthy sperm directly into the egg. ICSI is used to aid the fertilization process when the semen quality or quantity is low.
- Embryo Transfer
Once fertilization is successful, there will be one or more embryos available for transfer into the uterus. Your doctor will use a syringe to transfer the embryo via a catheter into you. Once implantation into the lining of the uterus is successful, pregnancy will occur.
Average IVF Cost in Canada
The average cost of IVF in Canada depends on several factors, but age is the most significant factor. Age plays a huge role in determining the success rate and money to be spent on the procedure. As we know, the quality of sperm and egg decreases with age.
IVF costs an average of CA$10,000 – 20,000 per cycle. It can cost as high as CA$20,000 with additional expenses. The cost of IVF varies per medical center and the medications required.
About half of IVF costs are for medications; ovary-stimulating FSH, antibiotics to treat possible complications, drugs to produce higher-quality eggs, prenatal vitamins, etc. The rest of the bill goes towards storage, retrieval, embryo transfers, genetic testing, etc.
You will have to carry out a fertility test before starting IVF if you are having difficulty conceiving. Provincial health provider in Canada covers fertility test. Getting an IVF can leave a hole in your pocket as most provinces in Canada cover one round of IVF. And on average, it takes about 2.7 rounds of IVF to get pregnant.
The cost can get higher if a diagnosis like endometriosis or a sperm/egg donor is required. The average price of sperm in Canada is about CA$400 – 700, depending on your province. Getting an egg is another case, as selling eggs in Canada is illegal. So, the intending parent has to find a donor, family, friends, or travel outside Canada where it is legal.
Provincial Coverage of IVF in Canada
Some provinces in Canada offer financial aid to intending parents undergoing IVF. You’ll have to pay out of pocket for fertility drugs as most private insurance companies don’t include these costs in their benefits packages.
Aside from fertility testing covered in some provinces like Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, provincial and territorial governments cover nothing in terms of treatment. Other regions like Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador do not even have IVF clinics. Patients in these provinces will have to seek treatment in another area. In comparison, other provinces and territories have no coverage for IVF.
Cost Covered by Provincial Healthcare in Canada
There are currently four provinces in Canada that offer IVF coverage to patients.
Ontario is one of the first provinces in Canada to fund IVF. The funding covers one IVF cycle per patient in a lifetime under the age of 43. The provincial funding covers a one-at-a-time transfer of all viable embryos. It also covers an additional fee if the patient is a surrogate and has unlimited artificial insemination cycles (AI).
People eligible for this coverage include patients with medical or non-medical infertility, single people, heterosexual couples, and same-sex couples. Patients must have a valid health card and be a resident of Ontario.
Note that the province does not cover any fertility drugs up to CA$5,000 per IVF cycle and CA$1,000 per AI cycle. Also, the cost of genetic testing, sperm, embryos, or egg storage is not covered. Ontario currently has 50 government-funded fertility clinics that are part of the province’s fertility program.
Manitoba offers about 40% tax credit of the cost of fertility treatments, including prescription drugs. Residents can have access to CA$20,000 in eligible expenses for a maximum credit of CA$8,000. To qualify for this, patients must be a resident of Manitoba, and the treatment must be by a Manitoba licensed medical practitioner or fertility clinic.
Patients with private insurance can only claim the credit for expenses that were not refunded. Procedures eligible for tax credit coverage in Manitoba include; Ovulation induction, therapeutic donor insemination (TDI), hyperstimulation/intrauterine insemination (HS/IUI), IVF, and frozen embryo transfer.
New Brunswick offers special funding for infertility treatments for its residents. The budget is a one-tine maximum grant aimed at lessening the financial burden associated with infertility. The fund allows a patient to receive up to 50% of eligible costs incurred for IVF or IUI and any related treatment drugs up-to a maximum of CA$5,000.
To be eligible for this funding, you must be a New Brunswick resident with valid Medicare care. You must also have proof of diagnosis with fertility problems and received fertility treatment by a physician.
Residents of Quebec can claim about 80% up-to CA$20,000 in eligible costs yearly. The rate of credit per patient depends on the family income with or without a spouse.
The credit per patient is applicable only for a single IVF cycle for women below 36 and not more than two IVF cycles for women aged 37 and above. The credit does not cover the cost incurred on assessment, drugs, and travel expenses.
Other cost incurable includes:
Test and Consultations
500 – 250 each for retrieval and transfer
1,000 per procedure
500 per procedure
3,300 – 3 embryo transfers
9,000 – including sperm wash and insemination
1,750 – not applicable to every patient
1,500 per procedure
Other Ways to Pay For IVF
- Private Grants
Patients can seek funding from private institutions like Fertile Future and Generations of Hope Fertility Assistance Fund. You can access about CA$6000 of treatment cost from Generations of Hope Fertility Assistance Fund.
- Health Spending Account (HSA)
Each stage of an IVF cycle involves risks, including:
- Multiple births
- Premature delivery and low birth
- weight Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- Egg-retrieval procedure complications
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Congenital disabilities
- Ovarian cancer
Aside from the financial burden a couple undergoing IVF has to go through, the mental and emotional stress that comes with the procedure, especially on women, is draining. There is no guarantee of an IVF procedure; however, it can increase the chances of getting pregnant. So, if you have the resources and believe with your physician’s aid that IVF is the best option for you, then go for it.