What you need to know about INVOCell.
INVOCell procedure: We are pleased to be the first fertility clinic on the west coast to offer this innovative new procedure called INVOcell. IVF Phoenix™ was an early adopter of this technology and were the first fertility practice on the west coast to offer the intravaginal culture with INVOcell in the hope that this treatment will allow more patients to afford fertility care.
We are also pleased to confirm that, as a result of this technology, IVF Phoenix™ has reported live births with INVOcell since introducing it in Arizona. For patients who meet the criteria, it is certainly a huge saving from traditional IVF.
The INVOcell, a recently FDA approved gas permeable vaginal culture device, allows women to incubate eggs and sperm themselves, decreasing the cost of and increasing access to fertility treatment.
What makes traditional IVF expensive?
To care for eggs, sperm and embryos outside of the body, the IVF laboratory is an intensive care unit for embryos, requiring air filtration systems, incubators with continuous monitoring and alarm systems, and highly trained embryologists that care for the embryos for the five to six days of embryo culture. Intravaginal culture has the potential to decrease treatment cost by reducing the need for the laboratory and embryologist intervention. Because IVF is expensive, the ovarian stimulation for IVF involves taking medications to recruit multiple eggs so that patients have their best return upon their investment. Additionally, in most cases of severe male factor IVF with ICSI is recommended. Robust ovarian stimulation requires many ultrasound and blood tests to monitor the ovarian response. The goal of INVOcell is to decrease the cost of fertility care, therefore we use a more modest ovarian stimulation that requires less medication and less monitoring which provides another cost savings.
How does INVOcell work?
The INVOcell is a small device, made of plastic permeable to gases. Eggs are retrieved from the female patient, mixed with sperm in the laboratory for a few minutes, and loaded into culture media in the INVOcell device. The device is then placed into the vagina. Because the plastic is permeable to gases and the gas mixture and temperature at the top of the vagina is like the gas mixture and temperature inside the fallopian tube, the conditions in which the eggs, sperm, and embryos are developing are like the conditions in the IVF laboratory. After five days, the device is removed from the vagina and the embryos are removed from the device. The best quality embryo or embryos are transferred into the patient’s uterus and any additional high-quality embryos are frozen for future use.
Is INVOcell a replacement for intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
At IVF Phoenix™ we believe the data supports that the live birth rates are higher with one INVOcell cycle as compared to 3 cycles of IUI. For some patients, the higher pregnancy rate of INVOcell may make it an attractive replacement for IUI. One in four couples with infertility conceives with up to three cycles of intrauterine insemination. In the study of INVOcell, just over half of patients conceived in one cycle, and some had embryos to freeze for future use. The cost of INVOcell is slightly greater than the cost of three cycles of IUI and approximately half of the cost of traditional IVF, so some couples may elect to skip IUI and go directly to INVOcell.
Is INVOcell a replacement for traditional IVF?
INVOcell is a useful fertility tool, however, it should not be considered as a replacement for traditional IVF or IVF with ICSI. When used in a group of patients predicted to have high chances of success with IVF (37 or younger, body mass index less than 36, normal ovarian reserve, and good sperm parameters), INVOcell generated fewer top quality blastocysts than traditional IVF. Because only one or two embryos were needed for transfer, the birth rates were similar (55% for INVOcell, compared to 60% for traditional IVF), however, the INVOcell patients had fewer embryos to freeze. INVOcell also requires sperm that are functional enough to fertilize eggs without assistance in the device. Patients with certain abnormal sperm parameters should undergo traditional IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) rather than INVOcell culture.
Is INVOcell possible for religious restrictions?
Some religions object to the fertilization of an egg outside of a woman’s body, which obviously rules out in vitro fertilization. Others have a general concern for “the sanctity of embryos” in the IVF treatment. If your faith is one that does not outright forbid IVF but raises objections because of the potential loss of embryos, IVF is not necessarily out of the question. INVOcell may be an appropriate treatment for you.
We are very encouraged about this technology and are offering an INVOcell cycle for $3999. This does not include medications and some other services. The promising published success rates for INVOcell were from a group of patients with infertility predicted to have good chances of success with IVF (age less than 38, normal ovarian reserve, good sperm parameters, body mass index less than 36). While other groups are currently under study, the decision of whether INVOcell will be a useful tool for patients with infertility requires discussion with our Medical Director, Dr. John Couvaras. Call us today at 602-765-2229 to set up an appointment. International and out of state patients are welcome.