March 28, 2024

Some Americans are disposing of their costly frozen embryos

The cost of storing frozen embryos is steadily rising in the United States, prompting some people to have them destroyed. The Washington Post interviewed several people in varying family circumstances: a lesbian couple, a gay couple, a single-by-choice mother; two childless women; and a conventionally married couple. 

All of them agreed that the cost of storing their embryos was financially burdensome, especially after having spent so much money on achieving an IVF baby.

For instance, Caitlyn Plaskett and her wife, Wanda, used donor sperm to create several embryos. They now have two sons, one 18 months and one 3½, and five frozen embryos. They were spending US$65 a month on storage and $250 on child care. Something had to give. So rather than have a third child, they decided to dispose of the embryos. 

“My wife says she’s 1,000 percent sure we made the right decision, but I’m 99 percent. Three kids would be really rough, but there’s always that little inkling. You have little fantasy moments like, what if we could’ve had another?” said Plaskett. 

The industry says that its costs are constantly rising. According to the Washington Post:

Storage companies and fertility clinics are typically private corporations that set their own prices.

“It’s an expensive proposition to do what we do. And the tolerance of risk is effectively zero,” Eric Widra, chief medical officer at Shady Grove Fertility, told The Post last year.

Widra said fertility insurance rates have increased and clinics have enhanced electronic monitoring and alarm systems to safeguard against mishaps and disasters, such as the 2018 storage-tank accidents that happened in Ohio and California.

“I am not surprised that there’s cost increases based on how difficult it’s been for us to deal with supply chain and personnel issues,” Widra said.