It’s now possible for women to get pregnant via insemination in the comfort of their own homes.
The FDA recently approved the first-ever, at-home sterile insemination kit.
PherDal Fertility Science received clearance last month after various tests did not raise “any new questions on the safety or effectiveness” of the product, as stated in the FDA’s approval letter.
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PherDal’s creator and CEO, Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche of Dixon, Illinois, confirmed to Fox News Digital that there have been 34 babies born from the first 200 proof-of-concept kits that were released.
“Even saying that still gives me goosebumps,” Hintzsche said in an interview.
The at-home kit is intended for users who are struggling to conceive or have chosen not to conceive naturally.
The kit includes three sterile, circular cups and three syringes, all packaged separately, for an independent-use option.
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While other brands offer at-home insemination kits, PherDal is the only multi-patented, sterile, FDA-cleared at-home insemination device on the market, according to the company.
“Sterility matters because studies show that disruptions (dysbiosis) in the reproductive microbiome are linked directly to infertility,” said Hintzsche.
PherDal’s first batch of kits sold out in just 90 days, which is when Hintszche realized she might be “on to something.”
“It really is a simple device, but there’s so much science behind its effectiveness,” she said.
Driven by desire for family
Hintzsche said she assumed that after she married her husband in Oct. 2016, she would get pregnant, have multiple babies and live happily ever after “behind a white picket fence.”
But after 14 months of unsuccessful conception efforts, she sought out a fertility specialist who ran some tests.
That’s when Hintzsche discovered that she had “unexplained infertility,” as the doctor said that “everything looks normal” and “we don’t know what’s wrong.”
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The doctor then handed Hintzsche an application for a $10,000 loan to begin IVF treatment.
As a biologist with a PhD, Hintzsche started digging into infertility research in search of an alternative to “invasive” treatments.
“Instead of going into the uterus, if you put [sperm] right at the opening of the cervix, and it was done [in a] sterile [manner] in the clinic, it had the same live birth rate [as IVF],” she said. “And I was like, ‘Why has no one ever offered me this?’”
The scientist ordered lab supplies and gave her prototype a try.
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Hintzsche got pregnant in Dec. 2017, after only two attempts with the kit.
Her daughter, Lois, was born on Sept. 11, 2018.
Motivated by that success, Hintzsche launched a new career with the goal of helping other people who were facing the same struggles.
“I think everyone deserves something they can try first, and it shouldn’t take $10,000 just to [have the chance] to become a mother.”
Through feedback from PherDal customers, Hintzsche has fine-tuned her product to accommodate a variety of scenarios.
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Many women report feeling “shame” when they face infertility, Hintzsche said — which is something PherDal aims to eliminate.
From other PherDal moms, Hintzsche has also heard that at-home insemination “takes the pressure off” couples who have gone to great lengths to conceive without success.
Many PherDal dads have reported that they’d rather not return to a clinic to provide a sample, since “that’s not the way they envisioned growing a family,” Hintszche said.
“It gives people this private, safe option that doesn’t [involve] any drugs,” Hintzsche said. “It’s not going to work for everyone … but for a lot of people, maybe the sperm just needs a little boost.”
It’s important for people to confirm with their doctor that it is healthy for them to become pregnant before attempting a method like PherDal, she added.
Infertility specialist sees promise, warns of potential pitfalls
Dr. Remm Sabouni, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Aspire Houston Fertility Institute, shared with Fox News Digital her appreciation for reproductive products that allow “more choice while maintaining safety.” (She was not involved in PherDal’s development.)
The expert noted that PherDal is potentially useful for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who would like to try at-home insemination.
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It is also useful for patients who have undergone infertility evaluation and are seeking more natural options, she said, or for male partners who have erectile issues or who want to avoid intercourse as a means of producing sperm.
Sabouni did point out one “major caveat” of a product like PherDal, which is the challenge of understanding who qualifies as a good candidate for its use.
The fertility expert cautioned about “some pitfalls,” including lack of fertility assessment and limited efficacy for certain medical conditions such as male factor infertility, tubal blockages or ovulatory disorders in women.
Sabouni also mentioned a lack of randomized controlled trials “demonstrating the viability of this treatment” — as well as the lack of medical supervision and the risk of misuse.
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“While I recognize the potential benefits of such devices for at-home use, particularly for individuals and couples trying to conceive, I would strongly caution that they not be seen as a replacement for consulting with a fertility specialist,” she said.
“If conception is not achieved after using these methods for a recommended period (typically a year for those under 35, and six months for women over 35 or with irregular periods), it is advisable to seek professional medical advice,” the doctor added.
Customers do not need a prescription to purchase.
FDA clearance advises that consumers should only purchase the product for up to six months before seeking other options.
“It really is just an affordable and accessible way that people can try if they’re struggling,” Hintzsche said.
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Fox News Digital reached out to the FDA requesting comment.
The company said that pre-orders for PherDal kits, which are 100% made in the USA, are currently available at pherdal.com for $199.
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