Let’s Stimulate Those Ovaries

Before I jump into this post I want to give a fair warning that this may be the most boring thing you’ll read on The Baby Steps Blog, albeit very important. So now that you’re here, I assume one of four things:

  • You’re reading this as my biggest fan (Hi, mom)!
  • You’re a fellow IVFer and that’s what we do – read and research as much as possible.
  • You feel IVF may be in your future although you don’t know why (all infertiles have been there at one point).
  • You have someone in your life battling infertility and you want to know as much as possible so you can be the best support system for them.

However you landed here, I hope this post is educational and gives a little glimpse into of one of the many parts of IVF.

Now, let’s begin. In my previous post, part of my homework was to order my medications which may seem odd that this isn’t automatically done for patients. All clinics are different, there are those that only use one preferred pharmacy so they take care of ordering for you, then there are ones that allow you to order from just a few select pharmacies at a discounted rate, or maybe you could find a clinic that encourages patients to order from overseas as a way to cut costs. And then there are clinics like the FIRM that have you do your own research to determine which pharmacy is best for you and your wallet. Reminder, we are 100% self-pay as we don’t have any IVF insurance coverage which means our prescription coverage does not cover any of the medications needed.

If you’ve learned anything about me, you know that I go into all appointments having already found answers to my questions, so I had a pretty good idea of which medications I would be on. For now, I will just share my IVF stimulation medications (I’ll refer to these as stims from now on) and not my transfer medications. Here’s what I was prescribed.

  • Menopur: FSH used for egg growth and development
  • Gonal-F: FSH used for egg growth and development
  • Cetrotide: controls LH, stopping ovulation from occurring
  • Lupron: gives follicles a final push to grow before retrieval
    *I don’t have my doses here as I didn’t use all medications each day and the doses are always able to be changed depending on each monitoring appointment.

There was a whole section to our IVF folder dedicated to the medications including brochures from a few recommended pharmacies, South Miami Pharmacy (SMP), Freedom Fertility Pharmacy and Schraft’s 2.0 Fertility Pharmacy. I spent two weeks researching pharmacies and comparing prices starting on November 26. After what felt like 52 phone calls and 437 questions later, I finally called Susan (our IVF Coordinator) on December 12 and gave her our decision of using Freedom Fertility Pharmacy. Although I was “in charge” of ordering my medications, patients can’t actually place the order – your clinic has to submit it. However, if I needed refills and the original order was written with available refills, I could do that on my own as long as I was ordering from the same pharmacy (this is important for transfers as you do need to reorder every few weeks).

Once Susan placed the order, my phone rang and it was the pharmacy on the other end calling to collect my payment (insert crying face) and discuss shipping which is always overnight as these medications are so time-sensitive and some must stay refrigerated. Fair warning: what you’re about to read next will absolutely come as a shock to you.

Pharmacy: Your total is $4,628.30. How would you like to pay today?
Me: Can I split the charge on two cards?

Yep, over four thousand dollars just for the medications needed to have a shot at pregnancy (no pun intended) and the potential of our dreams of having a family come true. If you remember, I thought I would be on stims for about 9 days as that’s average, so if you do the math, we were looking at an average of $514 A DAY in medication.

Below is a breakdown of what each medication cost us, but prices can always change so what we paid may not be accurate for someone ordering medications today. If you are going through IVF, I highly suggest calling as many pharmacies as you can handle mentally. I called eight pharmacies but half didn’t make my spreadsheet for one reason or another, mainly because they didn’t carry exactly what I needed or didn’t offer free or overnight shipping (most do, but during the holidays not all could commit to that). And yes, I am well aware that I could have spent a hell of a lot less had I ordered from overseas but we weren’t comfortable with it and it isn’t recommended by our clinic.

And just like that, we took a huge step in our IVF journey. There was no turning back now.