Women's Health

Fertility’s Gold Rush

Lauren Citro, 32, has been trying to conceive for nearly six years.

SHE’S RECEIVED FERTILITY TREATMENTS at four clinics in three states. In her effort to exhaust all options, she’s sampled almost every intervention recommended: immunology testing, assisted hatching, supplements, acupuncture, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, testicular sperm extraction, and the list goes on.

She trusted her doctors—and didn’t want to drive herself crazy Googling things when fertility treatment is already a high-stress process—but the info she received from providers tended to be minimal and conflicting. Case in point: She went through what’s known as an endometrial scratch that was described as “highly recommended” at her third clinic, only to find out it was entirely dismissed at a fourth place, because of the trauma it causes.

So Citro finally started doing some sleuthing online. Now, she asks a lot more questions. And as time goes on, and the more she hunts for evidence, the less she’s willing to try different options. “Our rationale used to be ‘can’t hurt, might help,’” Citro, a nurse in San Diego, says of the additional treatments she and her husband had during six IVF retrievals and four transfers (total cost: more than $100,000). “But that’s not necessarily the case.” (She points to another example: a $7,000 testicular extraction of sperm that the results said had “no impact on our outcome.”)

About 10 percent of women in the U.S. struggle to conceive or stay pregnant, and nearly 2 percent of all births in the country are via in vitro fertilization (IVF), which costs upwards of $15,000. But beyond that, more than part of your fertility treatment covered is still not the norm.

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