In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is one of the most popular fertility treatments, because it addresses a wide range of fertility concerns, including unexplained infertility. Unfortunately, for all its benefits, IVF is not the right treatment option for all patients, most often due to its cost.
INVOcell™ is a safe and effective alternative to IVF for many of Dr. Sonja Kristiansen’s Houston, TX, and Sugar Land, TX, patients. INVOcell uses a woman’s body to support fertilization, which eliminates the need for a laboratory incubator. This treatment saves patients money without compromising treatment effectiveness. Here, patients can learn about the INVOcell process, step-by-step.
Step One: Ovarian Stimulation
As with IVF, INVOcell treatment begins with ovarian stimulation. During this initial phase of treatment, fertility medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. The protocols used for ovarian stimulation for INVOcell are not quite as aggressive as those used for IVF, which results in greater comfort for the patient and a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.
Step Two: Egg Retrieval
Ovarian stimulation not only allows Dr. Kristiansen to promote the production of multiple mature eggs, but it also allows her to time their release, so that she knows when to retrieve them. During the egg retrieval process, ultrasound is used to guide a thin, hollow needle through the vaginal canal. A suction device collects eggs in the needle so they can be safely retrieved for incubation.
Step Three: Incubation
The INVOcell incubation process is what really sets this treatment apart from IVF. During this stage of treatment, collected eggs are placed in a patented INVOcell device, along with a sperm specimen. The device is then positioned in the vaginal canal. Our Houston patients will use their own body to foster the initial phase of embryonic growth, rather than a laboratory setting.
INVOcell incubation offers several benefits. First, it saves patients from the cost of a laboratory fertilization. Second, the natural environment of the vaginal canal is much more stable for the embryos. The temperature and pH levels remain consistent, since they are not being controlled by artificial stimulants. Finally, there is no concern of interference, such as incubator doors opening and closing, or cycles of the thermostat.
Step Four: Embryo Inspection
When incubation is complete, the INVOcell device is removed and resulting embryos are inspected. The most successful embryo, or embryos, will be chosen for the next stage of treatment: embryo transfer. If the patient chooses, remaining embryos can be frozen for a future treatment cycle.
Step Five: Embryo Transfer
The final stage of INVOcell treatment is embryo transfer. The selected embryos are placed directly into the uterus during a process that is very similar to egg retrieval, or a pap smear. Ultrasound is used to guide a thin catheter through the cervical opening and up into the uterus. Embryos will be deposited near the lining of the uterus, where, ideally, they will implant and result in pregnancy for our patients.
Women who have struggled to conceive naturally may be ideal candidates for INVOcell treatment. If you are interested in learning more about this fertility technique and whether it is the right choice for you, send us a message at your earliest convenience or call (713) 225-5375 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sonja Kristiansen.