The details on IVC

Perhaps you’ve already heard of intravaginal culture (IVC) or perhaps it’s new to you—but it may be something you should
talk to your doctor about. Whether you’re just exploring all the options you have or struggling with your current ones, IVC
can offer you another alternative that is both effective and may be more affordable.

Here’s a little bit about what
to expect

Before starting IVC, you may be prescribed medication that will allow your reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to have greater control over the timing of egg retrieval and prepare your body for step 1 (mild ovarian stimulation) below.

  1. Step 1

    Mild ovarian stimulation

    Your doctor will prescribe medicine to help your ovaries produce eggs. With IVC, this round of medication may be at a lower dose or for a shorter period of time than with other options used in fertility treatment, which may allow for fewer monitoring visits as decided by your doctor.

    • With stimulation, the goal is to help your body produce multiple eggs to increase the chances of producing a healthy embryo
    • In order to produce multiple eggs, your doctor will prescribe medication to stimulate your follicles—which contain immature eggs—to grow
    • When your follicles have grown to an appropriate size, you may receive a “trigger shot” (a hormone injection) to trigger the final maturation of the eggs before they can be retrieved
  2. Step 2

    Egg retrieval

    Eggs will be retrieved from your ovaries using a minimally invasive procedure.

    • Before your doctor retrieves the eggs from your ovaries, she or he will give you pain medication or sedate you
    • Then, she or he will use a probe, which is inserted in your vagina, to retrieve the eggs from your ovaries
    • The procedure usually takes less than an hour in the doctor’s office
  3. Step 3

    Sperm retrieval

    Semen is collected from your partner or a donor and then sperm is
    separated from it.

  4. Step 4

    Fertilization and incubation

    The eggs and sperm are placed in a small device that is placed inside your vagina. And—here’s where IVC is different from IVF—fertilization and incubation can occur in your own body.

    • A device—one that is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand—holds the eggs and sperm in it
    • During this time, your doctor will request that you avoid any strenuous physical activity or other activities like taking a bath, using a sauna, or engaging in sexual intercourse
  5. Step 5

    Removal and transfer

    After the incubation period, your doctor will remove the device from your body and examine the quality and quantity of the embryos that developed. Then, she or he will work with you to decide on the number of embryos to transfer to your uterus. You can also freeze any remaining embryos for the future.

What are the chances of pregnancy?

Learn more about the results of a clinical trial that studied IVC in women struggling with fertility challenges.

Find out more

About to start IVC?
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