Tree of Life Center now offers the INVO procedure using the Invocell vaginal culture! Infertile patients now have a new fertility treatment between intrauterine dissemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The success rates fall right between IUI and IVF!
We provide this novel fertility treatment to a select group of patients with a good prognosis. Invocell significantly reduces the need for complex laboratory procedures resulting in lower costs. The fertilized eggs are cultured in the vagina for up to 5 days using a special capsule - the Invocell Device. It provides protection from vaginal secretions and ensures the optimal environment to incubate the gametes. It is held back in the vaginal cavity by a ring-like retention device. While intravaginal culture (IVC) is not a new concept, the unique Invocell design overcomes previous challenges resulting in higher success rates. The Invocell device remains permeable to gas exchange and embryos can thrive in a more natural environment connected to the women's body.
Invocell fertility treatment follows the same basic steps as conventional IVF, with the main difference, that it takes advantage of the vaginal culture device. There are also fewer assessments, less micromanipulation, and less technology involved. The in-vitro fertilization becomes less artificial since the fertilization process happens in your body (in-vivo), with a difference, that it occurs in the Invocell device, rather than the tube.
During traditional IVF treatment embryos reside outside of the body for up to 7 days. During the incubation period, special culture dishes hold the conceptus in little fluid droplets while in a larger incubator. The artificial environment mimics the uterus and tube but remains very static. The goal is to enable the embryo to reach the blastocyst stage. This type of culture provides for micromanipulation and sequential evaluation of the embryos by the embryologist. Such evaluations take place every or every other day. It will include checking fertilization, cell cleavage, and other developmental milestones. The egg might need to be fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and this adds more work during the IVF process. Some experts believe that the InVoCell Device provides a more natural environment with more dynamic changes with a closer resemblance to the environment in the fallopian tube.
Each embryo is a result of uniting the gametes (sperm fertilizing the egg). The IVF fertilization process can be natural or assisted by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Invocell is designed to provide a hospitable environment for natural fertilization while in the vagina. The device is first-of-its-kind to gain FDA approval for intravaginal culture (IVC). The safety and efficacy of such an incubation method were proven in several clinical trials. A special Invocell retention device holds the culture device from falling out.
The process is more successful than the IUI treatment, but not as complicated and expensive as the traditional IVF treatment. It provides an alternative for all patients who could not overcome the gap between IUI and IVF. This infertility treatment is best suited for younger patients with tubal problems, but otherwise good fertility and good semen analysis. The success rates mainly depend on the female age and favor patients with good AMH levels. As a rule of thumb, about 25% of Invocell transfers result in a live birth.
The Invo cycles generally utilize a lower dose of injectable medication. This results in less ovarian stimulation and reduces the need for frequent ovarian monitoring. The downside is that this typically yields fewer eggs retrieved. The Invo procedure does not routinely include ICSI and embryo freezing. The number of embryos at the end of culture might be sufficient for a fresh transfer but might not leave any for freezing. The patient will not have the option of frozen embryo transfers. We are also unable to detect any problems in early embryo development due to limited access. We are not able to closely monitor what is happening in the Invocell Device and have to wait to open it up after 5 days.
We still recommend classic IVF over the Invocell culture device for any cases involving more complex infertility problems. This involves low sperm count, diminished ovarian reserve, previously failed IVF, and desire for PGS/PGD, gender selection, etc.
We are happy to evaluate your suitability for the Invocell procedure. The low total cost of $5900 is an attractive alternative for many patients who were initially considering tubal reversal surgery or donor sperm intrauterine insemination. It is a good alternative for same-sex female couples who can fertilize multiple eggs with a single sperm vial. The selected patient might achieve a pregnancy rate that is close to the traditional IVF.