In October of 2018, history was made for the lesbian community. Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter each carried their son in their womb before Ashleigh successfully gave birth. The CARE Fertility Center in Bedford, Texas, was the first to attempt a technique called “reciprocal effortless In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)” with same-sex couples. This technology has been used for many couples, but CARE expanded the technique to include same-sex couples. In-Vitro Fertilization is the traditional route for same-sex couples, but the company, INVO biosciences, revolutionized the incubation process to be supported in the womb through a new device called INVOcell. The cylindrical plastic device contains harvested eggs and donor sperm, which is inserted into the vagina for incubation. INVOcell takes advantage of the natural necessary conditions of temperature and pH in the vagina instead of external incubation in traditional IVF. After incubation, the device is removed and the healthiest embryo is transferred into the uterus. In the Coutler’s case, Bliss’s eggs were harvested from her ovaries via stimulation, and her eggs and donor sperm were incubated with INVOcell inside Bliss’s womb. After a five-day incubation period, the embryo was successfully transferred over to Ashleigh who, eight months later, gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Stetson.
Reciprocal effortless IVF has been analyzed as a potential alternative to traditional IVF. The INVOcell device is significantly cheaper than IVF incubators without monitoring lab costs. Traditional IVF costs a couple about sixteen-thousand dollars with medication, while effortless IVF with INVOcell is only half the price, at eight-thousand dollars. The internal device also reduces the amount of time spent in fertility clinics for women for necessary tests, blood draws, hormone level assessments, and sonograms. While the INVOcell and reciprocal effortless IVF method is relatively new, it has a fertilization success rate of over 90%. Many couples have utilized the service, and now same-sex couples are taking advantage of INVOcell. In an interview with WFAA, Kathy Coulter states, “It opens new avenues, new choices for same sex couples.”