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Could a New at-Home Conception Kit Compete with IVF?

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Couples struggling to conceive who can't afford to pay $12,400, on average, for IVF may be tempted to try a more budget-friendly, baby-making option, like the Stork, an at-home artificial insemination device from Rinovum that just became available over-the-counter for $79.99. Though the Stork has been sold in Europe since August 2013, it only received FDA-clearance in July.

How does it work? According to the product's four-minute how-to video, the conception kit requires a simple two-step process. First, your partner must wear the provided condom-like cervical cap during sex. Once you've captured his sperm, you attach it to an applicator, which works very similar to a tampon to deliver his swimmers to your cervix. The cap will stay in place (again like a tampon) for four to six hours while you go about your day. Afterward, you simply pull the dangling string to remove it, and voila! You may be with child.

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Before you invest in this new DIY procedure, though, there are a few things you should know, warns Michael Heard, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, and gynecologist based in Houston, TX, who has reviewed this product firsthand.

“Devices like it have existed since the 1950's before IVF,” he says. The most well-known, FDA-cleared, prescription product on the market is the Conception Kit by Conceivex, which has been offering a similar, baby-in-a-box procedure to Stork's since 1997 for about $349.95 without insurance. The biggest difference between the two is that the Conception Kit recommends using fingers versus an applicator to implant the cervical cap. Also, Stork is the only over-the-counter product of its kind.

While the product has received the FDA's okay, Heard has one major concern. “When using the applicator, some women may cut themselves around the vagina or cervix if they push it too far up there. Some women, especially those who don't use tampons, may not know just how far to go,” he says. Clinical testing of the Stork hasn't shown any evidence of this problem, but Heard feels there is a risk for placing anything intravaginally.

Would you ever try an at-home fertility procedure like Stork or the Conception Kit? Tell us below what you think or share your thoughts on Twitter at @Shape_Magazine.

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