According to the CDC, infertility affects around one in 10 American couples. However, nearly half of these couples aren’t seeking treatment or are unable to access it. Why? The main barrier to traditional in-vitro fertilization (IVF) methods is the cost in both money and time.

IVF can cost anywhere from $11-13,000 per cycle, with many couples undergoing multiple cycles. That puts the average cost per baby born at about $41,000, a staggering amount of money that represents a large chunk of the average American family’s take-home income. So, why is IVF so expensive?

A big production

IVF is normally a complex process involving numerous factors that drive up the cost. Because of the expense of infrastructure, specialized labor and materials needed, many IVF centers have a large overhead.

Traditional IVF uses incubators which need CO2, oxygen, and electricity to run, and must be monitored 24/7 to prevent accidents. Because many particles in the air can be toxic to embryos, IVF labs must create meticulously controlled environments to prevent contamination.

In practice, traditional IVF physicians use a high-stimulation protocol, where women are given large doses of hormone medication to pump up their egg production. Not only are these medications expensive, especially when used so liberally, but actually put patients at risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries become swollen and painful.

Most couples will be required to make five or more visits to the doctor, which further drives up the cost. Additionally, many patients are losing time that they could be working and sometimes travelling long distances to reach the nearest IVF center.

“In our minds, INVOcell felt more comfortable and allowed us to feel more in control of having a baby.”

A simpler alternative

Thankfully, a new system called INVOcell by INVO Bioscience promises to eliminate a lot of the time, labor, and expense associated with traditional treatments by using a simpler and more natural method.

When eggs are retrieved, they are not manipulated in any way before being placed, along with sperm, in a small polystyrene capsule similar to a cryopreservation tube. Instead of being placed in a  CO2 incubator, the capsule is inserted intra-vaginally (in-vivo) where fertilization and embryo development occur.

Because the woman’s body acts as a natural incubator, the costs of maintaining machines and staff necessary to monitor embryo development are reduced. The female body also creates a more stable environment that fluctuates with the mother’s body rhythms, just as in natural conception.

The INVO method also uses low ovary stimulation, meaning fewer expensive drugs and may lead to a healthier and potentially less painful process for the women who go through it.

Fertility to the people

The INVOcell system not only cuts costs in half (sometimes more) but it also makes treatment possible anywhere, decreases doctors visits and allows couples to feel more involved in the process. “In our minds, INVOcell felt more comfortable and allowed us to feel more in control of having a baby,” says INVO patient April Crow.

Instead of being taken away to a lab, the embryo is immediately returned to the woman in the INVOcell device, which  mitigates the fears of an embryo mix-up. Additionally, conception within the mother’s body may better align with the religious beliefs of parents.

In a clinical trial of 450 cycles, pregnancy rates were statistically the same as traditional IVF and the process has gotten the endorsement of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “The success rate of INVO versus traditional IVF is equivalent,” says Dr. Kevin Doody of Effortless IFV, who uses the system at his facility, “There’s really no difference.”

INVO Bioscience’s mission with this new system is to get proper care to those who need it. Fertility is a part of reproductive health, and that should be a right for all people. By letting nature do the work, INVO is democratizing IVF and making it possible for more people to experience the miracle of childbirth.