IVF failure. What to do next?29.6.2021 · 5 min reading
For those who have never experienced an IVF failure, it is impossible to describe what emotions and pain accompany this moment. Although the rate of successful IVFs is increasing year after year, even in reproductive medicine we cannot avoid the moments when the IVF cycle fails. What could be the cause of failure and how do you increase your chances of success?
When the miracle you’re waiting for doesn’t happen
When the IVF cycle fails, many people are overwhelmed by strong and unpleasant emotions – they feel sadness, anger and frustration. It is only natural that you might think that everything is ruined, because with the failure comes the realization that the miracle that you put some much effort in to achieve, did not happen. Even though these emotions are absolutely normal, the key is not to blame anyone, not yourself nor your partner, in such an emotionally demanding time. It is important to remember IVF can fail for a number of reasons, many of which are completely out of your control.
Poor quality embryo as a cause of failure
One of the most common reasons why the IVF cycle fails is the quality of the embryo. Embryos may have a defect that prevents them from being implanted into the uterus and they may break down instead of developing further. In these cases, however, reproductive medicine can help. Thanks to the most advanced technology, the highest quality embryos can be identified, which will then be used for the transfer. One of the newest and most gentle technologies is the so-called EmbryoScope, which uses a camera to provide continuous monitoring of individual embryos, so they are not exposed to any risky manipulation until embryo transfer. In addition, EmbryoScope includes a KIDScore module, which allows the embryologist to calculate their viability and reduce the risk of embryo transfer failure.
When your ovaries are on strike
Occasionally, female ovaries refuse to do their job – they do not respond to treatment as they should and do not produce more of the eggs needed for IVF. Women over the age of 37 or women with high levels of follicle-stimulating hormones, may have difficulty to produce enough eggs. However, even in this case, there is a solution called the ICSI method, which is becoming increasingly popular among many couples (including those who failed the IVF cycle). ICSI (intro-plasmic sperm injection) is a method in which sperm is injected directly into the egg and the chances of successful fertilization are significantly increased.
Probability of chromosomal abnormalities, are you at a higher risk?
IVF failure can also be caused due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, both those that were conceived naturally and those that are “from a test tube.” Chromosomal abnormalities are a common cause of miscarriages and implantation failure during IVF, and women over the age of 30 are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities in their eggs, this rate increases the closer a woman gets to 40. Therefore, women over the age of 40 are advised to use donor eggs, which will increase the chances of successful IVF. What is true for these women is that due to their age, it is not wise to postpone the treatment and it is advisable to seek professional help as soon as possible.
How you can change your lifestyle
You can still have one thing under control, and that is a healthy lifestyle that can lead to the fulfillment of your dream. For example, smokers often need up to twice as many cycles to conceive and are more likely to have a miscarriage. Therefore, smokers are advised to stop smoking at least three months before starting IVF treatment. In the same way, the whole process can be disrupted by being overweight or underweight, so it is desirable that you try to achieve a healthy weight, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough exercise and quality sleep and reduce stress to a minimum.
Reproductive medicine – What’s the catch?
IVF failure can be really frustrating and depressing, however, there are several tests and screenings to help doctors find out why an IVF cycle has failed. For example, Halosperm allows easy and fast examination of DNA fragmentation in sperm – let’s not forget that sperm also affects the genetic material of the embryo and if it’s genetic material is disrupted, it can lead to miscarriage. For women with multiple unsuccessful embryo transfers, a highly sensitive ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Array) test is recommended, which allows doctors to predict the most suitable moment when the mucosa is ready to receive the embryo and thus increases the likelihood of successful pregnancy. Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies (PGT-A) is also a widely used method, which is used to determine the numbers of chromosomes in the embryo, which increases the chance of implantation and the birth of a healthy child. Last but not least, an immunological examination is also advisable, as 10% of cases of infertility are due to an impairment of the immune system.
Why choose us?
If you do not reach success in your first attempts, then facing the failure is the only option – many couples who have lost hope describe the path that ultimately helped them win the battle over their initial destructive emotions.
“I immediately started looking for the culprit – first I blamed the clinic and I was convinced that the cycle failed due to their negligence, which caused damage to our embryos. I was looking for gaps in their treatment and incompetence. Then I came to blame myself – I analyzed every possible thing I could have failed at and that could have prevented the embryo from getting caught. When I reached my most desperate point, I realized that I would do even more damage by this and that instead of further self-torture, I needed to move on, to start thinking about another try, and get rid of that desperate mindset”.
Lucie, one of the women who has experienced multiple failures, says what ultimately helped her. “I focused on what will happen next, that I have another chance to succeed. I tried to understand what could have led to the failure and that I was not the only one who could not get pregnant. Together with our doctor we also arranged examinations that helped us figure out what the root of the cause was. Above all, positive thinking, counseling psychologist, our doctor’s recommendations as well as the necessary investigations, has helped us greatly to overcome this obstacle and fulfill our dream of being parents.”
Dealing with IVF failure is a process that everyone handles in their own way, but it is important to remember that grief is a natural response that takes time. Even if you feel that failure has taken away a piece of your soul and that your strength is waning, there are many ways to get through this painful time – some people overcome it slowly, some more quickly, but never forget that you end up moving forward with each small step and there may be something completely different awaiting you in the future.