Compared to other forms of assisted reproduction, the average cost of an intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the things that make this an attractive option to woman dealing with infertility.
Understanding the Intrauterine Insemination Procedure
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is usually a woman's first option when considering assisted reproduction. In this relatively painless procedure, sperm is collected from the woman's partner or a donor and washed. Once the woman is ovulating, the sperm is injected directly into the uterus or cervix using a long catheter. If all goes well, the sperm moves further into the uterus and fertilizes a waiting egg. This is a useful method of assisted reproduction for couples who have sperm motility issues or low counts.
Although the procedure itself is pretty straightforward and standard, the methods leading up to the insemination vary greatly. Some physicians and patients prefer to follow the woman's natural cycle and simply plan insemination for the day when the woman ovulates, which is determined by ovulation predictors or basal temperature monitoring.
Other doctors prefer to take a more aggressive approach to controlling when ovulation occurs and prescribe Clomid or another fertility drug that will make the woman ovulate. This is sometimes used in conjunction with ultrasounds and blood tests to monitor the development of the ovaries.
Average Price Range for an IUI
There's no standard guide to what the average cost of IUI is because each clinic incorporates much different techniques. Price estimates range from around $400-$2,000. The cost range depends on several factors:
- Basic costs: The low end of IUI costs covers just the basic in-clinic procedure. Having the sperm washed and prepared in the lab, then inseminated into the woman costs only a few hundred dollars.
- Medication: Adding medications like Clomid to the cycle increases the cost, but since generic versions are available of most fertility medications, it's often not a huge expense. A cycle of Clomid may cost only about $9. Injectable medications, however, are much more expensive.
- Extra testing: Blood tests and ultrasounds can add several hundred dollars to the average cost of IUI. Since some of these are routine tests that could be performed outside the realm of fertility treatments, they may be covered by insurance even if the IUI itself isn't.
- Insurance coverage: Some states mandate coverage for fertility treatments, while insurance companies may also cover it even if it's not required. Although many insurance companies will not cover more expensive procedures like IVF, a lifetime limit may be provided for IUI. In these cases, a woman might be covered up to $2,000, for example, of IUI treatments.
It's important to know exactly what a particular insurance company covers and how the fertility clinic bills for reimbursement. An ultrasound might not be covered if it is only related to the IUI, but it may be paid for if the ultrasound is a preventative measure against ovarian hyper stimulation, a potentially serious side effect of Clomid use. Experienced fertility clinics should be able to help their patients get the most coverage they deserve.
Although it may tempting to elect for just a natural cycle IUI if you are paying out-of-pocket, keep in mind that the chances of conceiving increase with fertility medications and closer monitoring. Although it may seem like a good idea to keep costs down, having to repeat the IUI several times or add the extra steps later will only make IUI cost more over time.
Cost Is Relative to Other Reproductive Procedures
Although paying close to $2,000 for a cycle of medicated and monitored IUI is a lot to imagine, it's still one of the least expensive means of assisted reproduction. In vitro fertilization, which is often not covered by insurance, can easily cost more than $10,000 per cycle. Since IUI is also less invasive than IVF, it's one of the most common means of conceiving with the help of a fertility clinic and is usually the first course of action recommended for most women.