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INVOCELL: The cost-conscious “Mini-IVF” treatment

WHAT IS INVOCELL? 

In an effort to expand our fertility options and to help improve access to care for patients, Reproductive Medicine Institute (RMI) is pleased to announce the addition of the INVOCELL Intravaginal Culture (IVC) System to our repertoire of reproductive health services.

A first-of-its-kind device used in fertility treatment, the INVOCELL IVC System is a cost-conscious option that enables egg fertilization and early embryo development to take place in a female patient’s body, as opposed to in a laboratory. In other words, INVOCELL is a device that holds eggs and sperm in your body for fertilization and incubation, allowing you to be more personally involved in the process. 

It’s “Mini-IVF” nickname comes from the fact that it uses less medication (i.e. lower ovarian stimulation) than traditional IVF (in vitro fertilization). Whether it is due to cost, religious beliefs, or other reasons, traditional IVF may not always be the answer for those who are experiencing infertility. Therefore, INVOCELL as a IVC treatment can be a lower-cost alternative to IVF for patients on their fertility journey. In brief, INVOCELL’s website1 provides a simplistic overview of their innovative device:  

An easy way to think about it is that INVOCELL is the device used in the IVC (intravaginal culture) procedure. During IVC, your eggs and the sperm are combined in the culture device. Then, INVOCELL is placed in your vagina, allowing for fertilization and incubation to occur.1

HOW DOES IT WORK?

As the only FDA-cleared IVC system, INVOCELL is a single use device that holds the egg, sperm, and culture media, then utilizes the vagina (in vivo) as an incubator to support fertilization and incubation.  INVOCELL uses a unique approach that allows your own body as an incubator. With mild ovarian stimulation, your doctor will prescribe medicine to help your body produce eggs. Once the eggs are retrieved, they are placed in the INVOCELL device with sperm. From there, your body provides the environment needed for fertilization and incubation to occur. 

The novel design of the INVOCELL comprises two parts: (1) the culture device and (2) the retention device. Simply put, the culture device holds the egg and the sperm, while the retention device holds the culture device within the upper third of the vaginal cavity. At about 1.5 inches tall and 1 inch wide, the INVOCELL culture device can be held in the palm of your hand; and the retention device is just slightly larger to ensure that the culture device is safely secured.

Here is a breakdown of the IVC with INVOCELL process: 

(1) The female patient undergoes ovarian stimulation, utilizing milder doses of ovarian stimulation medications.
(2) Once the eggs are retrieved and sperm is collected, they are placed into the INVOCELL Culture Device.*
(3) The device is then immediately placed in the vaginal cavity to allow for a more natural environment for fertilization and incubation to take place.
(4) Upon completion of the incubation period, the device is removed.
(5) The embryos are examined by the embryology team and the highest quality embryo(s) is(are) selected for transfer into the uterus. Any additional embryos can be frozen.

WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE?

INVOCELL was studied in a clinical trial involving 450 cycles, 421 of which resulted in embryo transfers2. Of these transfers, about 1 in 4 resulted in a birth. As a comparison, studies have reported that an IUI (intrauterine insemination) treatment has an 8-10% rate of success3. In nationally reported data, traditional autologous IVF demonstrates up to a 48% success rate4.  In terms of cost, INVOCELL typically runs higher in price when compared to IUI. On the flipside, INVOCELL’s overall cost tends to be about 40% less than traditional IVF, which can ease the financial burden for patients. 

Bottom line, INVOCELL serves as an in-between option for those who might not be able to afford IVF, but are looking for a more promising success rate than IUI. 

WHAT DO WE THINK?

Fertility is highly personal, and everyone’s needs and experiences are different depending on a variety of factors, including: 
          • Their personal beliefs and wishes
          • Where they are in their lives 
          • Their financial situation 
          • How they choose to move forward with fertility treatment  

 

INVOCELL IVC System is a novel approach that offers women and their partners another proven option on their journey to build their families. It is unique in that it utilizes the woman’s body as an incubator to support fertilization and incubation. Moreover, INVOCELL is an innovative option that considers your concerns about treatment costs

To conclude, here is a quote from one of our providers, Dr. Shweta Nayak, M.D., FACOG:

For many couples struggling with subfertility, INVOCELL offers a novel , more natural approach to assisted reproductive technology.  We, at the Reproductive Medicine Institute, are thrilled to offer this technology to our patients as another safe and effective path towards family building.

REFERENCES:  

1. INVOCELL. https://www.invocell.com/how-invocell-works/  

2. Reindollar RH et al. Fertil Steril. 2010;94(3):888-899.  

3. INVOCELL Intravaginal Culture System [instructions for use]. Parsippany, NJ: Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc.  

4. Society for Assisted Reproductive Therapy. 2016 Preliminary National Summary Report. https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?reportingYear=2016. Published April 25, 2018. Accessed January 23, 2019. 

*An ICSI may be recommended prior to placement in the device.  
**Adverse pregnancy events, like miscarriage and pre-term births, were reported in the clinical study, as these were primarily related to the effectiveness of the device (live birth rate). 

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