In an IVF procedure, embryos are created in a laboratory by skilled technicians before they are incubated in extremely sophisticated (and expensive) machines. For embryos to develop, they need to be incubated at the right temperature and with the right mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen. A new device called the INVOcell will allow women to incubate the embryos inside their own body, giving them the natural environment they’d experience during natural fertilization. This could eliminate some of the expensive machinery involved in the IVF process and some of the cost of each cycle.
The INVOcell is a small cylinder which holds the embryos and is inserted into the woman’s vagina. After five days, the cylinder is removed and the embryos can then be evaluated for viability. The strongest ones are chosen for transfer to the uterus. According to Dr. Kevin Doody, who ran the first trials on the device at a fertility clinic in Texas, the device had nearly the same rates of success as traditional incubation for IVF embryos. He says that the device has the potential to halve the cost of a normal IVF cycle due to the fact that the expensive incubation period won’t be necessary. Others aren’t so sure this device is going to be a healthy fertility solution for couples. Simon Fishel from the CARE Fertility Group in the UK warns that “abnormal fertilisation [could] go unnoticed because the embryo can’t be checked during incubation.”
You can learn more about IVF alternatives and other fertility solutions at EmbryoAdoption.org.