Invocell™ is a totally new way to do IVF. Recently approved by the FDA, Invocell™ IVF is simpler, more natural, and much less costly than standard IVF. The major way in which Invocell™ differs from standard IVF fertilization is that the process of fertilization and embryo growth occurs in a natural environment, inside the prospective mother’s vagina, rather the in an incubator in an embryology laboratory.
A woman’s eggs are removed from her ovaries and the male’s sperm are prepared in a manner identical to standard IVF. The difference is that instead of being placed in an incubator in an embryology laboratory, the couple’s eggs and sperm are placed in an Invocell™ chamber, which is immediately placed in the recipient’s vagina before she leaves the egg retrieval room. In the Invocell™ IVF protocol, a woman’s vagina serves as a natural incubator for fertilization and embryo growth for the five day period that is required for potentially healthy embryos to reach the blastocyst stage. The Invocell™ capsule is small and fits comfortably in the vagina. It is secured by a cup, like a diaphragm, which holds the chamber in place for 5 days.
The Invocell™ chamber is constructed in such a way that maintains a sterile interior, while allowing carbon dioxide gas, generated by the bacteria normally found in the vagina, to enter the chamber to maintain the pH balance needed for embryo development. Also culturing embryos in the vagina keeps out environmental airbourne contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have a negative effect on embryo development.
On the 5th day after the egg retrieval, the woman is prepared for embryo transfer. She is placed in a procedure room and has the Invocell™ chamber removed from her vagina. The exterior chamber is opened and the interior chamber is given to the embryologist, who microscopically examines the contents of inner capsules for the presence of embryos which have reached the blastocyst stage. Only one or two blastocysts will be transferred. Remaining blastocysts, if any, will be frozen for potential future use.
The major advantage of Invocell™ IVF is that, by eliminating much of the overhead of running an embryology laboratory, the cost of an Invocell™ IVF cycle is substantially lower than a standard IVF cycle. The cost of a complete Invocell™ cycle is $6000, which includes the cost of anesthesia. The cost of medication, embryo freezing ($750) and ICSI ($500) ( if needed for male factor infertility) is not included in the cycle fee. Another advantage of the Invocell™ is that the medication protocols used to stimulate egg production for Invocell™ IVF require less medication, as well as fewer injections, blood tests and sonograms. All these factors contribute significantly not only to reduced costs, but also to reduced patient discomfort, less clinic visits and less overall stress.
As can be seen by a recently published study (J Assist Reprod Genet DOI 10.1007/s10815-016-0661-0) the results comparing pregnancy rates produced with standard IVF and Invocell™ IVF are quite similar.