IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) Failure: Causes, Symptoms & Tips to Cope
In-vitro fertilisation is an advanced and powerful technique that has helped couples having trouble conceiving, to get pregnant and have a baby. Therefore, you might wonder why IVF fails, when it is considered to be effective. Not every process comes with a guarantee and IVF itself depends on numerous factors for its success.
Knowing how IVF works will give you a better understanding of everything required for a successful IVF cycle. Here is what the IVF procedure typically looks like.
1. Hormone Injections
Usually, one egg is released from an ovary each month. However, IVF requires multiple eggs to be retrieved from the body. Hence, follicle-stimulating hormones are injected, so multiple eggs can be released at once, and then retrieved.
2. Retrieval of Eggs
When the eggs have just been released from the follicles, the right time to remove the eggs is determined. The retrieval procedure takes under 30 minutes, during which the doctor locates the follicles in the ovary through an ultrasound, and removes them using a hollow needle.
Immediately upon retrieval, the eggs are placed in the same dish as your partner’s sperm or a donor’s sperm, to be fertilised.
The embryos (fertilised eggs) are then placed under observation to grow and develop properly. This observation period is usually five days, until the embryos reach the blastocyst (advanced) stage.
5. Embryo Transfer
The good quality embryos with the highest chance of being implanted are picked out and transferred to your uterus in a simple procedure. This is a quick procedure, where the doctor inserts a catheter into the uterus and deposits the embryos.
6. Implantation and Pregnancy
The embryos are left to implant or attach to the uterus walls for a successful pregnancy. In cases where this does not occur, it is considered a failed IVF cycle.
IVF Failure Reasons
Knowing that the IVF procedure has failed barely gives any idea about the reasons that led up to it. The causes can vary, depending on numerous factors.
1. Embryo Transplantation
At times, the embryo that has been fertilised successfully might not latch onto the uterus successfully and fail to implant.
2. Absence of a Conducive Embryo
During the IVF procedure, the doctors might not find any embryo that is healthy and can successfully lead to a pregnancy. This makes it necessary to terminate the process.
3. Failure of Eggs to Fertilize
Even before an embryo formation, the eggs may fail to be fertilised by the sperm. This could be because of issues in either of them or even both.
4. An Absence of Quality Eggs
For an embryo to be formed properly, the eggs need to be of high quality. If those are not obtained in a good amount, the chances of embryo formation are close to none.
5. Inadequate Number of Follicles
This is an early-stage termination of IVF, even before the eggs are obtained from the female partner. If the stimulation fails to create enough follicles for egg generation, IVF cannot proceed.
Symptoms of IVF Failure
The IVF implantation failure symptoms are quite evident by the absence of any changes. Implantation generally causes changes in the tendency to smell, increased sensitivity of breasts, vaginal discharge, and slight abdominal cramping. If these don’t exist even after a couple of weeks, post IVF, it might be indicative of a failure.
What Happens When IVF Fails?
In case you meet with an IVF failure, it would be necessary to meet your doctor to understand what happened and how can you proceed ahead from there.
1. Counselling Sessions
More than the medical aspect of things, the news of IVF failure can be emotionally distressing for both you and your partner. This can even result in depression or anxiety about trying it out again. Undertaking counselling sessions can help you channel your emotions and find a semblance of peace again.
2. Changes in Your Lifestyle
By indulging in conversations with your doctor, there will be some clarity around any specific factors surrounding your lifestyle that might have contributed to an unsuccessful IVF procedure. Certain changes might be prescribed in order to keep your weight in an optimal range, as well as other exercises that can help boost hormones conducive to pregnancy.
3. Carrying Out Genetic Testing Before Implantation
This is generally recommended if many other fertility options have failed to bear fruit. The costs associated with genetic testing are substantial. However, it helps diagnose any problems that might cause a problem with implantation of the embryo, and correct them or mitigate them by choosing an appropriate embryo.
How to Cope With IVF Failure
Understanding the IVF failure causes is one aspect of coming to terms with the incident. But what’s more important is for you to cope with the incident itself and help yourself in returning to normalcy in the best way possible.
1. Focus on Doing Things You Enjoy
Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing and start ticking them off. Take a mini-trip with your friends, gorge on tasty foods, and anything that you call a fun time. Give yourself the enjoyment you deserve to take your mind off the sadness.
2. Engage in Conversations With Similar People
IVF failures are observed in many women. Connecting with them either via an online forum or an in-person meeting could help you voice your emotions and concerns, and find a friend who understands your experience and can support you through this. Letting out your feelings can make you feel lighter.
3. Carry Out Self-Healing
The body undergoes a massive change during IVF, and now it has to make its way back to its usual state. Your first period can take some time to occur since your menstrual cycle requires a few days to reset itself. When the bleeding does occur, try to celebrate it, since it is a good sign that your body is doing alright. Indulge in acupressure or alternative healing methods that relax your mind and body together.
4. Put Together a Future Plan
Taking a look at various fertility websites and articles, as well as checking out different discussions in forums can start giving you a better idea of the options that you can choose from. It also helps you look forward to the future by creating a plan of action if the other option were to fail as well.
5. Trust the Process
In certain cases, IVF might proceed to a successful pregnancy, only to meet with a miscarriage or requiring termination of the foetus due to certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor to understand the reasons for failure in a better manner. These can help you cope with it and accept your experience.
6. Choose Who You Tell About it
The excitement of being a mother via IVF would have you talking to all your friends and family members about it. However, when the procedure fails, it can be awkward and painful to answer their questions over and over again. Look at this as a learning lesson and keep a shorter circle of people who know about any later attempts. Once you have a successful result, you can happily announce your pregnancy.
7. Stop Blaming Yourself For the Results
The IVF procedure is pretty complex and depends on numerous factors to be present in the optimal state for it to be successful. You don’t need to take all the blame of having an unhealthy body or being careless in any way.
How Many Times Can You Try IVF?
Ideally, a couple should be ready to try around six cycles of IVF to get a good result. Since that can be quite costly for many, fertility clinics might have certain plans that can reduce costs or share the risks of failure.
When to Try Again
You may not know why IVF fails with good embryos, but that should not keep you from trying again. If you have faced failure in the first IVF, give yourself time to recover and get a checkup done with your doctor. Once your parameters are normal and you are emotionally, mentally, and physically in a good place, you can try again.
Factors Your Second IVF Success Will Depend On
Even if you have faced a failure in your first IVF cycle, you can try again to achieve a successful result. The dependency of an IVF procedure bearing fruit in the second attempt lies on a variety of factors.
- The capabilities of the embryo in terms of chromosomes and genetics
- The quality of the embryo itself
- Any existing issues in the uterus
- The number of eggs retrieved
- The professional expertise of the doctor in transferring the embryo, as well as obtaining the eggs
- The upkeep and quality of the laboratory where the IVF procedure is being conducted
- An intended result of conducting a stimulation of the ovaries during IVF
- The amount of sperm that is obtained, as well as its quality
- The number of eggs that are obtained, as well as their quality
- The age of the female partner undergoing IVF.
Figuring out what next when IVF fails can be troubling for many couples. The key is to focus on the end result and not blame yourself for things that go wrong. So, take a deep breath, and look forward to a good future.
Also Read: Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) – A Fertility Treatment