A failed IVF can be devastating and distressing for couples aspiring to have children through IVF. In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF is an exhaustive procedure associated with tremendous social, psychological, and financial pains.
For people with infertility, choosing an IVF is a landmark decision in their life. And in such circumstances, having a failed IVF can take a toll on the emotional and physiological aspects of an individual.
Although most IVF cycles can be successful in their first attempt itself, sometimes, a few couples may need to consider more IVF cycles with certain corrective measures keeping in view the reasons for an IVF failure. Sometimes, repeated failures may be energy-draining, and couples may not be able to decide the path ahead of a failed IVF cycle.
The article explores the failed IVF reasons, symptoms, and options to consider after a failed IVF from experienced fertility experts.
In this Article
- 1 Failed IVF Symptoms
- 2 What causes failed IVF?
- 3 What Next after a failed IVF?
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
Failed IVF Symptoms
In Vitro Fertilisation is a fertility treatment procedure where the fertilisation process takes place ‘in-vitro’ or outside the womb. The IVF involves five main stages. Namely,
- Ovary stimulation,
- Egg retrieval,
- Sperm retrieval,
- Fertilisation, and
- Embryo transfer.
After the embryo transfer, the embryos implant themselves into the uterine walls for foetal growth. During implantation, the woman’s body undergoes sea changes with symptoms involving,
- Change in the tendency to smell,
- Breast tenderness and soreness,
- Mild abdominal cramping,
- Slight Vaginal bleeding or spotting, and
- Changes in basal body temperature (BBT).
The absence of even one of the above symptoms may indicate possible failed IVF side effects. Also, vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain in excess may indicate an ectopic pregnancy- where the implantation has occurred outside the uterine cavity. Some other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include acute pain in the shoulder and pelvic regions.
What causes failed IVF?
Why failed IVF? Maybe a question in the mind of couples going through a failed IVF situation. However, one needs to understand that every individual is different, as are their health and infertility conditions. And not to forget, every IVF journey is a unique experience having its odds of success and failure. The reasons or causes for a failed IVF can differ between individuals. While pinpointing one particular cause can be difficult. Here are some of the common causes of IVF failure.
Chromosomal Abnormalities in the Embryo
Chromosomal anomalies of the embryo are one of the common reasons for implantation failure and IVF failure. Preimplantation genetic tests allow you to test embryos and select chromosomally normal embryos.
During ovary stimulation of the IVF cycle, the woman needs to take fertility injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce adequate eggs for IVF. Here, hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are administered to increase the number of eggs produced. In some women, the ovaries fail to respond well to fertility medications.
Also, women above the age of 35 come under advanced maternal age. The ovarian reserves in such women may be low, requiring checking before an IVF cycle. Hormonal stimulations for poor ovarian response and low ovarian reserves need alterations accordingly.
At times, after IVF embryo transfer, the embryos fail to attach themselves to the uterine lining or endometrium, which may be due to inadequate thickness of the endometrium, the presence of fibroids, polyps, or infection of the uterine lining. Anatomical abnormalities of the uterus too can impede implantation, causing IVF failure.
The quality and quantity of eggs a woman produces declines with their increasing age. Evidence also suggests that women have fewer chances of conceiving as they age. And this is mainly attributed to the decline in ovarian reserves, egg quality, and quantity. This reason holds equally good even if you are opting for an IVF.
The co-founder of The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy, Dr. Gorgy, explains IVF success rates and age factors- “ women up to the age of 35 have the highest chance of IVF success: 47% for clinical pregnancy and 38% for live birth.”
Major stages of IVF occur in the laboratory, where the female egg and the male sperm get mixed to create embryos. Embryos may grow well in a laboratory set-up, but when placed in the uterus, they may fail to implant. The quality of the embryos also decides the IVF outcome. However, meticulous embryo monitoring systems, time-lapse imaging, or embryoscope help assess the embryo development 24X7 when developing in an in-vitro facility.
Some lifestyle factors affecting IVF failure include being overweight, underweight, smoking, alcohol consumption, and excessive stress. Before commencing an IVF cycle, trying to reach a healthy weight through dietary modifications and exercise can be helpful.
What Next after a failed IVF?
While the phase after a failed IVF is a difficult one, taking a toll on your emotions and finances. However, an IVF failure is not the end of the road or options. Here are some options you can consider or work upon after the failed IVF side effects, depending on your health and mental well-being.
Choosing another IVF attempt
Sometimes, IVF may require more than one attempt to get pregnant. You can always choose another IVF try. However, you will need to check with your doctor and assess the reasons for the IVF failure before moving ahead with the next IVF cycle. Doctors may suggest minimal lifestyle changes or amend the IVF treatment approach for better IVF success chances.
Use of advanced ART procedures, including blastocyst embryo transfer, Laser Assisted Hatching, Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) of the embryos, Endometrial Receptor Assay (ERA), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (IMSI), can be checked while proceeding with the next IVF cycle.
Third-Party donor options
Having issues with gamete quality, or embryo, you can always go ahead with considering donor options like using donor sperm, egg, or an embryo while moving with the next IVF cycle. Third-party donors are usually below 30 years that can help you with healthy gametes or viable embryos.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if IVF is unsuccessful?
After an unsuccessful IVF try, the fertility specialist will review the possibilities or reasons for the failure from the first step of ovary stimulation to the egg, sperm and embryo quality, and implantation. After a thorough assessment, your doctor will suggest the next options you can consider to have a child.
How common is an IVF to fail for the first time?
The success of an IVF cycle depends on various factors, including age, infertility condition, and much more. Considering all the success-influencing factors, the average IVF success rate for the first attempt may be between 35 to 40%. However, this probability is likely to increase with consecutive IVF cycles.
Can I get pregnant naturally after a failed IVF?
It is mostly not common medically. However, studies suggest that couples presenting subfertility issues and not completely infertile can have a natural conception after a failed IVF.
Couples may have several reasons for an unsuccessful IVF cycle. However, this phase is not easy for anyone, where your mental, physical, and financial chords are affected. Analysing the reasons and moving ahead with changes can be challenging but is the only way out of this testing situation.
You can also seek support from friends, family, and support groups- psychologists to help you deal with this situation. It is also advisable to talk with your fertility specialist and check on other options to have a child or get pregnant through IVF.