SAN ANTONIO – Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more.
Over the past couple of years Dr. Jennifer Knudtson, UT Health San Antonio reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, has started to notice a change in how couples are dealing with infertility.
One way is simply by talking about it more.
"I think it's one of those type of visits you don't just kind of start talking about until you're there, and when you're there, I think it's a lot more common to know there's other people around you with the same problem," Knudtson said.
Right now in the United States, 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility,
The other way couples are dealing with their infertility struggles is turning to in vitro fertilization or IVF.
What is IVF?
"IVF is definitely a process," Knudtson said. "It's emotional, physical and expensive, for the most part."
The IVF process consists of a woman giving herself injections of hormones to get her ovaries to grow more follicles. When the follicles get to a good size, an ultrasound procedure is done to take out the eggs.
From there, the eggs and sperm are put together in one of several different ways in a lab.
The next step is to let the eggs fertilize and the resulting embryos fertilize grow to a certain stage.
"Based on the woman's age and kind of their indication for IVF, then we do the transfer, which is putting one to two embryos back based on how they look," Knudtson said.
Finally, after 10 to 12 days, a pregnancy test is done to see if the process worked.
Because of the intricate process, the cost of IVF is not cheap.
How much is IVF?
According to verywellfamily.com, the average cost of one IVF cycle is around $12,000. That amount does not include the cost of medications.
"The whole process, there's a lot of complex parts and procedures and that's why it makes it expensive," Knudtson said.
Some states mandate that insurance companies to pay for IVF, but that is not the case in Texas.
There are also different forms of IVF that bring the price down a bit. For instance, InVoCell is a device inserted into a women that allows for the incubation of their own embryos.
It is about $1,000 to $2,000 cheaper and is being called a revolutionary treatment.
Is there support for women?
There are support groups, infertility coaches and a wide array of services available.
The National Infertility Association has support groups across the country called Resolve.
There is a San Antonio chapter that holds free support group sessions once a month.
"We have a group of amazing women that come together every month, once a month in a safe place where they can talk about, where they can share all their struggles, where they can feel safe to talk without anybody judging them," said infertility coach Dr. Linda Strano-Burton.
For information about Resolve San Antonio and its upcoming awareness walk, click here.