For some, in vitro fertilization (IVF) can help, but, it comes at a high financial cost. Carolina Conceptions in North Carolina is offering a new IVF procedure called INVOcell which costs less than half the average price of traditional IVF.
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"So, for INVOcell, the ovarian stimulation protocol is much simpler than traditional IVF because we don't need as many eggs," explained Dr. John Park, a reproductive endocrinologist at Carolina Conceptions.
"So, not as many ultrasound visits and a lot less medication used compared to traditional IVF. It's a much simpler more natural way of doing IVF," Park said.
Park said doctors retrieve eggs and place up to six eggs and sperm in a cylindrical piece of equipment called INVOcell. The device is placed immediately in the patient's vagina, where it stays for five days.
"The patient herself is the incubator and now we don't need an expensive IVF lab, expensive incubator, the conditions are more natural," Park said.
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After five days, the INVOcell is taken out and taken to the embryology lab, which assesses the number and quality of embryos. Patients aged 37 and younger have only one embryo transferred into the patient, and Park said that in most cases, other healthy embryos can be frozen for future pregnancies.
"IVF has gotten more complex, more complicated so the cost continues to go up," Park said. "The typical IVF cycle can easily be $15,000 or $20,000 if you are doing genetic testing on embryos. This is less than half that procedurally, it's around $6,000 and the cost of medication is pretty minimal compared to what you would normally spend on medications so it is a game changer.
"IVF has pregnancy rates of 60 to 70 percent in this age range," he added. "In preliminary studies, they're showing INVOcell pregnancy rates are just as good with the right candidates for half the cost of regular IVF."
The best candidates for INVOcell are women younger than 38 with a BMI under 38, an AMH of 1.5 or more, and good sperm quality.