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Who is eligible for IVF treatments in Canada?

Some couples have trouble getting pregnant and one way in which they can realize their wish for a child is through IVF treatments. People often choose these treatments after they have tried fertility drug treatments or if they have certain kinds of fertility problems.

How does IVF work?

IVF is the attempt to create fertilization in a laboratory culture dish. A woman’s eggs are removed from her ovaries. The ovaries are then mixed with sperm in the dish. After fertilization and cell division, in which a fertilized egg is in a temperature-controlled incubator, the embryo is implanted into the woman’s uterus in hopes of a successful pregnancy.

Does it work?

The success rates of IVF treatments depend on a number of factors, among them the specific fertility problem, age and weight.

An example of success rates is the following:

  • With fresh eggs: about one in three using IVF if a woman is under 35, and one in 10 if a woman is over 40; and
  • With frozen embryos: about one in five using IVF if a woman is under 35, and one in 10 if a woman is over 40.

Canadian fertility success rates for IVF treatments are usually reported through the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technologies Register. For 2014 the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society reported on live birth rates per cycle started as:

  • 31% for women under 35 years old;
  • 23% for women aged 35-39 years; and
  • 10% for women 40 years old and over

Who can get treatments?

Generally, most women in Canada can get treatment if they are over 18 years old.

Although there usually isn’t an upper age limit for women, some provinces impose rules towards in the age women can be when they are implanted with the egg if the government subsides part or all of the treatment.  

For example, Quebec ended Medicare coverage of IVF treatments in 2015 and replaced it with a system of tax credits. Women over the age of 42 who want to use IVF treatments are not eligible and have to pay for the desired treatment out of their own pocket.

In Ontario, only women under the age of 43 are eligible for IVF treatments that are funded by the government. If a woman is above that age she will have to fund the IVF treatments herself. 

Keep in mind provincial age limits for funding eligibility can change in the future.

What are the costs involved?

IVF treatments are not cheap. Costs depend on a few factors, where you are getting treatment in Canada, how many treatments are needed, the medications prescribed, services and procedures. One IVF treatment often costs thousands of dollars and can run from approximately $10,000 to $17,000.

In some provinces, the provincial health plan will cover a limited number of IVF treatments. You have to check with your provincial/territorial health plan if IVF treatments are covered and what the conditions are if there is coverage.

Read more:

In Vitro Fertilization

Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society