- Overview (jump to topic): INVOcell infertility treatment involves steps of in vitro fertilization (IVF) but places eggs and sperm in a device to naturally fertilize and incubate resulting embryos within the woman’s own body.
- FINO is the only clinic in Louisiana that offers INVOcell, which is currently available at our Baton Rouge clinic.
- Benefits: This innovative treatment costs less than traditional IVF, has a higher success rate than intrauterine insemination (IUI), and presents less risk to the woman and the resulting embryo.
- Who is a candidate for INVOcell? Women under age 35, with a BMI of less than 32 and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) blood level of 1 or greater, and partners with normal semen parameters.
- What is the process? We stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce eggs, retrieve and combine them in the INVOcell device with sperm, and place the device in the woman’s vagina for fertilization and incubation of the resulting embryo(s).The resulting embryo(s) is then transferred into the woman’s uterus to create a pregnancy.
- INVOcell risks are the same as those that come with any surgical procedure including infection, pain and possible medication side effects. Our providers discuss all risks with patients.
What is INVOcell?
INVOcell is a new and exciting fertility treatment option that can reduce costs for women and couples who are trying to conceive with IVF. INVOcell is an intravaginal culture (IVC) system that holds sperm and eggs in a device that is put in the woman’s body for fertilization and incubation of the resulting embryo(s).
This technique can be used in place of the IVF steps in which fertilization of the egg by sperm occurs in a lab petri dish, and the resulting embryo is incubated in a laboratory.
Conventional fertility treatments like IVF rely on laboratory incubators and equipment to support fertilization and early embryo development. While these systems are expertly designed, they do come with additional costs in order to maintain an optimal temperature, pH levels and gas concentrations for the developing embryo.
It does involve several other steps used in IVF, such as egg retrieval and embryo implantation in the mother’s womb.
Benefits of INVOcell
INVOcell, the bridge from IUI to IVF
Success rates compared with IVF and IUI
In a 2016 study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, researchers found no significant difference between traditional IVF and INVOcell (IVC) embryo transfer (97.5% vs. 84.9%) and live birth rates (60% vs. 55%).
Researchers noted that: “IVF was shown to be superior to IVC in creating quality blastocysts. However, both IVF and IVC produced identical blastocysts for transfer resulting in similar live birth rates. IVC using INVOcell is effective and may broaden access to fertility care in selected patient populations.”
IVC can replace intrauterine insemination (IUI), with a higher rate of success. IUI can also require multiple procedures in comparison with INVOcell’s single procedure.
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A natural environment
INVOcell allows fertilization and embryo development to take place in a more natural environment: the woman’s body. It is believed to be a more stable environment than an IVF lab incubator.
When using IVF, the embryo needs to be closely monitored and regulated for the correct temperature, pH levels and gas concentrations in order for fertilization to take place and resulting embryos to properly develop. With IVC, the woman’s body naturally provides this controlled environment.
The woman is also part of the early fertilization process when using this technique. This may have psychological, emotional or mental benefits for parent and child.
The cost of using INVOcell is lower than that of IVF as INVOcell does not require the expenses of incubators and lab monitoring and adjustments. If our doctor thinks INVOcell is a good option for an individual or a couple, it can save a couple nearly half the cost of traditional IVF. Embryo cryopreservation is also not necessary, though still possible, when using INVOcell, saving additional costs.
The total cost for this procedure depends on the other therapies patients may need, and whether or not they need to travel to our Baton Rouge location where we perform this treatment.
The mild stimulation medications used with INVOcell reduces the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can occur when using alternative methods such as IVF.
Many couples choose to use INVOcell over other treatments if they want to limit their travel or frequency of visits to their physician because this procedure involves fewer monitoring visits and ultrasounds. They may also use it as an alternative to IVF for religious or cultural reasons.
Did you know?
- The Fertility Institute of New Orleans’ (FINO’s) Baton Rouge location is the only clinic in Louisiana that offers INVOcell.
- Dr. Heber Dunaway and his team in Baton Rouge performed the first successfully completed INVOcell procedure in Louisiana.
- If a FINO patient uses INVOcell and does not conceive, the clinic provides a discount applied toward an IVF cycle.
Who is a good candidate for the INVOcell infertility treatment?
Dr. Dunaway recommends that patients with infertility issues have the best chance for success if they meet the following criteria.
What is the INVOcell process?
- The woman undergoes an ovarian stimulation process using much milder stimulating drugs than in IVF as INVOcell requires fewer eggs.
- The woman begins a monitoring cycle that includes fewer visits and ultrasounds than traditional IVF.
- Her eggs are retrieved using the same method as IVF under pain relievers and intravenous (IV) sedation for comfort.
- Her partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) is placed in the INVOcell device along with the retrieved eggs.
- The device is placed in the upper cavity of the woman’s vagina.
- The INVOcell device stays in the woman’s body for three days, naturally nourishing the eggs and sperm and incubating the resulting embryos.
- After the incubation period, the doctor withdraws the INVOcell device.
- An embryologist examines the embryos to select the most viable (healthy) one(s) to transfer to the woman’s uterus for pregnancy.
- Additional embryos that aren’t transferred can be frozen if the patient desires.
INVOcell side effects & risks
As with most medical procedures, there are potential side effects and risks associated with the INVOcell treatment.
Fertility medications can produce side effects for the women who take them. These effects include headaches, irritability and mood swings, hot flashes, abdominal pain and bloating.
Ovarian hyperstimulation is a rare side effect of these medications and can occur when the medication results in too many eggs developing in the ovaries, causing them to become painful. Since INVOcell uses a milder form of stimulation medications, these effects occur even less often than they would when undergoing IVF.
Egg retrieval and embryo transfer can cause side effects including mild cramping and bloating, breast tenderness, constipation or passing small amounts of fluid from the vagina.
Undergoing fertility treatment can be emotionally demanding as well. The Fertility Institute of New Orleans helps our patients mediate their stress and emotions through effective preparation, relaxation techniques and stress management. We can also connect patients with expert infertility counseling if desired.