Fertility Out Loud | The Details on IVC

All about IVC

Whether you’ve heard of IVC (intravaginal culture) or not,
it may be something you want to talk about with your doctor. It could be an effective and affordable option for you.

One thing to know before starting—your fertility specialist (or reproductive endocrinologist) may first prescribe medication that will cause your body to produce multiple eggs and allow greater control over the timing of egg retrieval.

Step 1

Mild ovarian stimulation

Your doctor may prescribe a 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 may prescribe medication to stimulate your follicles within your ovaries—which contain immature eggs—to grow
  • When your follicles have grown to an appropriate size, you may receive a “trigger shot” (an injection of hormone[s]) to trigger the final maturation of the eggs before they can be retrieved
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
Step 3

Sperm retrieval

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

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
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 any 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.

We can help along the way

We’ll send info and resources that can help no matter where you are on your journey—right to your inbox.

Fertility Out Loud