Simplified IVF with INVOcell™
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an extraordinary medical technology which has enabled millions of couples with infertility to conceive and deliver healthy children. Yet more than three decades since the first IVF live birth in 1978, it remains a highly complex and costly therapy which is accessible to only a fraction of potential patients both within the United States and abroad. To date little attention has been focused on making IVF widely available through development of less complex and costly procedures.
INVOcell™ system offers a simplified embryo culture option which replaces the complexity of maintaining embryos in laboratory incubators with a special container which is carried by the intended mother within her vagina for 2-3 days. The intended mother maintains the embryos at physiological temperature and pH through equilibration of oxygen and carbon dioxide between her vagina and the culture fluid inside of the INVOcell™ container. Thus her body is a natural incubator to provide the right conditions to support the developing embryo. Coupled to mild stimulation with use of lower doses of hormones and fewer visits for monitoring, simplified IVF offers a less expensive and more patient-friendly alternative to traditional IVF. Once the vaginal culture is completed, the embryos are removed from the container and transferred into the intended mother’s uterus for implantation.
INVOcell™ system received FDA-approval in November 2015 after several clinical trials demonstrating its safety and efficacy. In 2016, Alta Bates IVF Program, in conjunction with Marin Fertility Laboratories, became the first program in California to offer and undertake simplified IVF with the INVOcell™ system as yet another treatment option to our patients.
It will take time to find out how the live birth rates with simplified IVF compare with traditional IVF. While simplified IVF can be combined with ICSI to accomplish fertilization of eggs before their transfer into the INVOcell™ chamber and placement in the intended mother’s vagina, we do not recommend combining simplified IVF with embryo testing for PGS. The clinical value of PGS depends on the maximal number of eggs and embryos which are more likely to be achieved with standard IVF procedure.
Whether or not simplified IVF with INVOCell™ is the right choice for you depends upon individualized assessment, counseling and your own preference