What does fertility treatment cost?

I had no idea how much fertility treatment costs before we started this journey. I just had a vague idea that it was really expensive. It’s partly the reason we put off starting a family for such a long time. When we felt ready to look at our options, I approached 2 private clinics for estimated fertility treatment costs. I was horrified by how expensive it is to do just one cycle of fertility treatment! Worst of all, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a positive outcome.

Clinic 1 rough cost estimate in 2015:
IVF = R40 000
Testes biopsy = R12 500

Clinic 2 rough cost estimate in 2015:
IVF = R30 000 (excluding doctors fees and meds)
Testes biopsy = R7 000

I decided see what other options we had and enquired at Groote Schuur Hospital. After sending our information through, we were told they can’t help us at Groote Schuur, because we don’t fall into their catchment area. I was told to contact Tygerberg Fertility Clinic instead.

If I recall correctly, Tygerberg Fertility Clinic gave us the estimated costs after our first appointment in February 2016. I was relieved to find out that the costs at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic are much more reasonable than what private clinics charge!

Once Dr Thabo Matsaseng reviewed our case, KB’s testes biopsy was scheduled for April 2016. After KB’s biopsy we decided to wait before going ahead. I wanted to save for the rest of the fertility treatment costs first. I was determined not to go into debt to try and fall pregnant – I know this isn’t for everybody, but it’s how I wanted to do things. Of course many things came up that were expensive and saving was really difficult.

In April this year we had enough set aside to feel comfortable to go ahead. I contacted the Tygerberg Fertility Clinic to ensure that the process was still the same – that I must contact Dr Thabo Matsaseng on Day 1 of my next cycle. They confirmed and also reiterated the costs involved. Their estimated costs were pretty accurate, the below is an extract from email correspondence with the team at the beginning of 2017:

“The baseline cost per cycle for IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) or ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection.) is ±R8 000.00 and if required, a R500 – R1 300 weekend fee is also applicable. Please note that cost of treatment varies according to the individual patient. If a Patient responds poorly to the medicine it might be necessary to increase the amounts which could result in an extra R2 000 – R4 000. The potential success of treatment is dependent on various factors, which will be explained at your consultation appointment with either Dr Matsaseng or Dr Nosarka.”

Our estimated fertility costs

I am sharing what our expenses were in the hope of giving other couples a more rounded indication of the costs involved. Please remember that our treatment may differ to that of other couples. For example, I did not require higher dosage hormone therapy, which would have been more expensive. Our egg retrieval and the following embryo transfer also did not fall on a weekend or on a public holiday (it impacts and increases the cost if it does).

When you consider the costs, remember:

  • The costs Tygerberg Fertility Clinic estimate do not include additional costs such as consultation fee for seeing your GP to get a referral letter, having a RPR (syphalis) test, HIV test, pregnancy blood tests, etc.
  • If you are on a medical aid, check with them whether they will cover some of the blood tests.
  • Even if you do have medical aid, remember that most medical aids won’t pay for fertility treatment and won’t cover the cost of the hormones.
  • Tygerberg bills according to your income. I’m not sure if this impacted the cost of the testes biopsy, but we were billed directly by Tygerberg Hospital for this procedure, it was not part of the general fertility treatment costs.

Ballpark figure for us was R11 000 for one round of fertility treatment with standard hormone treatment, including KB’s testes biopsy.

Cost breakdown

  • Prescribed hormone therapy and total costs of meds prescribed for me: R3 045.23
  • ICSI needle: R1 000 (cash paid at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic on day of egg retrieval)
  • Embryo transfer: R4 000 (cash paid at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic on day of transfer)
  • Total of R8 045.23
    (This is close to the base line cost estimated at R8 000 by Tygerberg Fertility Clinic!)

Additional costs

There are costs that we didn’t think about or anticipate, these in addition to the main fertility treatment costs above:

Doctors consult for referral letter and general medical history as requested by Tygerberg Fertility Clinic: R380

Blood tests: ?
2 x HIV tests (one each for me and KB)
2 x RPR tests (one each for me and KB)
2 x Pregnancy tests (R177.50 each)

(I’m not sure of exact costs here as we had the RPR and HIV tests last year and I can’t find the claim statement for them. Our medical aid covered all the tests above, however, we have a medical savings account and some of the costs were taken from our savings.)

Testes Biopsy: R600
You are billed according to your income, so this could vary up or down. Tygerberg told us in 2016 that it wouldn’t exceed R1 000).

Post testes biopsy: R300
This is a rough estimate, as I didn’t keep the slip for the prescribed pain meds, antibiotics, guaze, etc. for KB after his biopsy. I don’t recall the actual amount and budgeted this amount as an estimated cost for purposes of this post.

Sperm freezing: R350 (cash paid at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic)
Prescribed progesterone after embryo transfer: R586.81
Additional progesterone after pregnancy confirmation: R792.58

ESTIMATED TOTAL: R11 054.62 (excl. blood tests)

I’m currently 6 weeks pregnant and I’m not sure whether there will be any further costs that are not “regular costs” in terms of a pregnancy. But that’s where we’re at right now.

Again, I can’t emphasise enough that these costs are not set in stone, they are merely a guideline for what we’ve paid for our treatment. This is still a fraction of the cost compared to what other private clinics charge.

Pros and cons of using Tygerberg Fertility Clinic

Pros:

  • Dr Thabo Matsaseng – He is a legend, I can’t sing his praises enough!
  • The team at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic – The team was very kind and supportive, especially at the egg retrieval and embryo transfer.
  • The costs are a fraction of what you’ll pay at a private clinic.

Cons:

  • Tygerberg Hospital is in sore need of a facelift. It’s not the newest or nicest looking facility, but it is clean!
  • The whole process of registering and opening a file at Tygerberg Hospital is a little confusing and time-consuming.
  • Distance, this wasn’t a huge issue, but I thought to mention it all the same. We travel in from Somerset West every time we have an appointment. There are private clinics closer to home.

Would I recommend it to other couples?
YES, ABSOLUTELY!

We were very fortunate to have a successful and positive outcome the first time round. I know that this is not the case for everyone. However, considering the costs, it’s possible to do 3 – 4 rounds of fertility treatment at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic at roughly the same cost of one round at a private fertility clinic.

Why is Tygerberg Fertility Clinic less expensive?
You can read this article I found online which explains some of the reasons why Tygerberg Fertility Clinic is less expensive. The article is from 2015, so the costs are outdated, but the information about why it’s less expensive is still relevant.

Header image by Wilfred Ivan.

Nicky

31 Comments

  1. Great post Nicky and very helpful to all those who can’t afford the fees charged by private clinics. I will most probably be having my transfer done tomorrow – 3 of the 4 eggs retrieved have fertilized…almost there!!! Looking forward to your next post:)

    • Hi Ladybird!
      Congrats – WOW, 3 eggs!! I’ll be thinking of you and crossing everything for a successful transfer tomorrow. I am so excited for you! Let me know how it goes xx

      • All went well – all 3 were actually transferred on thursday…lol!!! And now we wait…as luck would have it, test day is Sunday so I will do it Monday morning…Hope all is well with you guys and your little sesame seed:)

        • Hi – that’s fantastic news! I am so flipping excited for you and will keep all fingers and toes crossed for Monday! And we are doing well, thanks! xx

  2. Hi Nicky,
    Firstly, a huge congratulations on your success story!! I’ve been following your journey quietly in the background, and am so thrilled for you! I am an avid researcher, and your local information is invaluable, thank you. I contacted them a while back, but the receptionist says I’m just over their age limit, and I would love to speak to Dr Mataseng directly re my options if I can get hold of him?

    • Hi Lisa – Thanks for the wishes! I think the best thing to do is to book an appointment with Dr Matsaseng – you’ll probably have to go through the team, you can call them on (021) 938-4473. If your age is an issue before they will give you an appointment then ask that you want to see him anyway to discuss options/get a referral. I can’t see that they will deny you the opportunity to see him for a consultation? I could be wrong though? Alternatively, try sending an email to the team (Tygerberg dot fc at gmail for com).

  3. Hey, just thought of a question. When you go for the first appointment you’ll be how many weeks pregnant? Oh, maybe not “A question” but more than one. Also… Are they asking you to go in July because of space issues or because they want you to be at that specific number of weeks?

    • Hi Thandi! I’ll be one day short of 10 weeks at my first scan. Um, I’m not sure if it’s a space issue or a set number of weeks – I didn’t think to ask. But I think it’s more to do with how developed the baby will be to see if everything is on track and to check that the baby is growing as he/she/they should.

  4. Hi Nicky
    Once again thank for the information that you so kindly share with the rest of us.
    My First appointment is on Thursday coming. We have all our previous medical history etc. I might be starting my AF tomorrow though. Not sure how the consult will go seeing that i may have my AF.
    Our appointment is at 12, we hoping to get there earlier to do all the admin things like opening a file etc.

    Please continue to keep us updated on your pregnancy.

    • Hi Rafieka! You are absolutely welcome, hopefully it sets you at ease a bit for the rest of the journey! Congrats on your first appointment – you guys must be so excited! Definitely a good idea to go early, as it’s first come, first serve! When you actually start your fertility treatment, your first scan appointment is during your monthly flow, so it is a bit embarrassing (at least it was for me), as they use a sonar “wand” as opposed to the one they use on your tummy. But just remember this is part of the process of what Dr M is passionate about, it’s what he does. And I really don’t think a bit of blood will offend him in the least. He did not make me feel uncomfortable about it at all (I was just embarrassed because it’s not a comfortable situation). Just a tip – if/when you do go for your first fertility treatment appointment once you’ve contacted him on Day 1 of your cycle (on roughly Day 3 of your cycle) use a sanitary pad, as you would need to remove any other feminine hygiene product. I suggest maybe taking a pack of tissues with if you feel it’s necessary (not those feminine wipes, just plain tissues). I plan on doing pregnancy updates every couple of weeks or so 🙂 Wishing you all the best and sincerely hope that you have a wonderful and successful journey! x

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am at the start of my journey at Tygerber fertility clinic. Looking forward to meeting Dr M! Congratulations with the baby.

    • Hi Burna! Oh, how exciting – you’ll like Dr M, he’s such a nice guy! Thanks for the wishes and good luck! x

  6. Hi Nicky congratulations, your story inspired me and gave me hope. I emailed the clinic yesterday and are waiting on Dr Matsaseng’s feedback.

    • Hi Nina! I’m glad you found some hope and inspiration in my posts – I hope the team responds quickly! Best of luck! x

  7. Hi Nicky

    We had our 1st appointment on the 22nd. All went well and was a breeze thanks to your information We got to meet Dr M. Lovely guy. He has asked that we start our treatment from the July AF. We too were quoted around the R8500 mark. That was verbally done by Dr. provided no weekend lab work is needed. Not sure if this figure changes when the hospital bill arrives. We are so excited and nervous.
    Question… do we get billed separately for each visit to see Dr M or would the 8500 cover the visits for scans etc? We did receive a bill for the visit on the 22nd which the reception on 3rd floor insisted on submitting to Discovery even when I told them its a hospital plan and wouldn’t cover the visit. Apparently they wait on the rejection from medical aid and then we need to settle the account privately.

    Hope all is well your side. Looking forward to your next update on your pregnancy.

    • Hi Rafieka! I was wondering how your appointment went – I’m glad it went well. Dr M is lovely, isn’t he? Other than the account for the biopsy that Tygerberg sent us, we were not billed by the hospital. Dr M told us when we had to take cash and how much. The only cash payments we made were the sperm storage (R350 in 2016), the ICSI needle cost (R1 000) in May 2017 and the embryo transfer cost (R4 000) in May 2017. None of my appointments fell on a weekend or public holiday. The other monies were for the meds that Dr M prescribed for me (as set out in the post above). My medical aid is a hospital plan, but I also have a savings account. SO you might have extra costs in terms of blood tests, etc. Hope this helps? I hope to do a pregnancy update soon! x

      • Rafieka – To clarify, we paid the ICSI needle cost (R1 000) and the embryo transfer cost (R4 000) directly to the embryologist down in the maternity wing on the day we had the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer respectively. We were given a written receipt for both payments.

      • Hi Nicky
        Your info and advice always helps. I’m expecting my AF around the 22nd July. I am on my AF as we speak but Dr M is away on conference and we had to wait until July. He truly is a lovely person. Both hubby and I felt comfortable with him. We will just take along the funds and pay that directly to them. I hope we able to find the meds required once we receive our script. I worry that as you struggled we may struggle too. If the first day of my AF happens to fall on a Sunday, Am i still able to message him to let him know? I suppose then that he will call us in for the 3 day scan on the Monday.

        • Hi Rafieka – Yes, even if your first day falls on a Sunday, you must SMS Dr M on that day. He will advise from there. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine no matter what day it falls on, as you only start the meds after seeing Dr M and having a scan (roughly Day 3 of your cycle – at least that’s how it happened for me). I’m not sure what area you live in, but I found the meds I needed at Willowbridge Dischem. When I told the fertility team that I had struggled a bit to find the meds, they told me that Canal Walk is always a good option. To save yourself driving around, I suggest calling ahead to the relevant Dischem/pharmacy and checking with the dispensary if they have the meds you need. I’m so flipping excited for you 🙂 x

  8. Thanks Nicky will keep Dischem CW in mind. We situated in Southern Suburbs Rondebosch area but CW is no problem to get to.
    I know our prescription may be different to yours, but wanted to find out whether you had one specific brand or whether Dr M prescribed a mixed bag of meds? I know of Menopur as one brand from doing some research.

    I recall from an earlier post you mentioned mixing the meds. Did you mix 4 different meds into one syringe and then inject on a daily basis or was that a once off? I am bit worried about the home injections, but guessing that it’s better than going out and having a sister do them daily.

    • Hi Rafieka! The prescribed meds I had to mix was Menopur. And yes, I mixed all 4 into 1 syringe, that way it’s physically only 1 injection instead of 4 at a time! You only do injections on set days (and Dr M will tell you quantities, as they are different on different days).

      Menopur comes in sets of vials with a rubber stopper and glass ampules with liquid. You break the ampules open – let’s say you have to administer 4 injections: You break open 4 ampules and suck the liquid up from all 4 ampules into 1 syringe (I used a long needle syringe for this part). Then you inject the liquid into each of the 4 rubber-stoppered vials. I gave them a slight gentle shake to make sure they had mixed and then sucked the mixed contents of the 4 rubber-stoppered vials back up into the syringe. I switched to the shorter needle, made sure all the air was out of the injection and administered the injection to my tummy (or at least KB did, because I was too squeamish).

      You can also go to a pharmacy/clinic and ask the sister to do the injection for you at a small fee if you don’t feel up to it. I went to a pharmacy for the first one, just so I could see where and how to do it. Then I explained to KB and he did the rest at home for me. The injection burns a bit, but it’s not too bad. The last injection is a different med and is only done when Dr tells you to do it (this is the trigger injection ahead of the embryo retrieval). If you are prescribed the same one, this one you must keep in the fridge and it comes in a glass syringe with a short needle already attached and is a once off injection (no mixing).

      Hope this helps 🙂 x

  9. Hi Nicky, I’ve been following your blog and I have to thank you for giving us some useful information. My questions are, can one make an appointment directly with the clinic? Or do you need to have a referral letter from your Gynae/GP?

    • Hi Michelle!

      I initially contacted the Groote Schuur Fertility Clinic and was told send:
      – A general cover letter outlining our situation, and
      – A referral from my GP (outlining my general medical history and the reason for the referral, being the fact that my partner had had a vasectomy).

      I was then told by Groote Schuur after submitting these 2 documents that I need to contact Tygerberg Fertility Clinic because of where I live. Tygerberg required the same information but also requested HIV tests and RPR (Syphallis) tests for both my partner and I. I had to go back to my GP and request assistance with getting these, as you can’t walk into PathCare and ask for a HIV test (something to do with a doctor having to tell you the results in case they are positive in order to provide support and councelling/give information).

      In both cases I contacted Groote Schuur and Tygerberg directly and the team instructed me from there.

      Hope this helps! x

  10. Hi Nicky,
    Congrats on your pregnancy and wish you and your baby good health.
    My Gynae has also suggested IVF since my only tube is blocked.
    How long did it take for you to get an appointment with Dr Thabo Matsaseng at Tigerberg hospital? I am from Durban and IVF done privately is so expensive.

    • Hi Laila – Thank you for your lovely wishes! My partner and I initially applied in October of 2015 and we had our first appointment with the team in February 2016. After we had done the necessary blood tests and submitted all the info the team requested, Dr M reviewed our file and scheduled my partner’s testes biopsy for April 2016. I think how long it takes to get an appointment depends on how many couples are currently seeking treatment and where they are in their cycle. Best suggestion is to get in touch with the fertility team at Tygerberg and to take it from there. Yes, private fertility treatment is so flipping expensive (which is why we also chose to go through Tygerberg). Best of luck! x

  11. Hi Nicky
    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I want to thank you so much for this vital information you are sharing. I had no idea that i can pay less the 15 000 for IVF. I have been to the private clinics before and its really ridiculous of how much these treatments cost. My sitiuation is slightly different am using donor eggs and i suppose you would know what the cost implications would be and also if Dr M works with situations like mine. Anyway thank you so much for this info it has just changed my life.

    • Hi Sharon – Thank you for the well wishes! Isn’t it shocking what you are charged at a private facility versus a public/government facility?! I think the best thing to do is to get in touch with the fertility team and chat to them direct, as I am not sure about the use of donor eggs and situations similar to yours. If you don’t have the contact details, these are the ones I used (hopefully they are still valid):

      E: tygerberg.fc@gmail.com
      T: 021 938 4473

      I’m glad my blog shed some light on the option of using Tygerberg – I wish you all the best 🙂
      x

  12. Hi Nicky I will be visiting Tygerberg next week my period should start today or tomorrow than I will receive my script medicine.I’ve been chattin with Dr.Norsaka do any have you have any experience with this Doc.Also some advice on how I can improve my chances

    • Hi Ella!

      You must be so excited to start treatment and I sincerely hope that this round has a positive outcome! I haven’t met Dr Norsaka, but I have the greatest respect for the members of the fertility team who I have met. So I’m sure Dr Norsaka is also a valued member of the team and is as experienced as Dr Matsaseng.

      I don’t really have any advice on how to improve your chances, other than to take care of your self and get enough rest. Try not to stress (I know this is the hardest part). Wishing you all the best for a positive outcome, I’ll keep you in my thoughts. x

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