A failed IVF can be devastating for you and your partner. You may feel lost, at loose ends, and profoundly depressed. But, you aren’t quite ready to give up your dream of growing your family. What’s next for you and your partner?
Every couple, or individual, forges a different path when dealing with infertility treatments. Of course, the popular media, magazine covers, and entertainment shows, make IVF look like a stroll through the park. Actresses and entertainers over 40 have success after success, seemingly. But, remember, those magazines, and TV tabloid shows, are in it to make money and you see very little, if any, of the real story behind their fertility experience.
When IVF fails there can be myriad reasons. The term “IVF Failure” is pretty vague in describing a treatment that doesn’t result in a viable pregnancy. Depending on the reason for your failed IVF, there are several solutions, ranging from trying another cycle of IVF, to third party fertility assistance, to adoption.
Reasons Why IVF Fails
For all of the success in fertility treatment, specifically IVF, it is a fragile and precise science. Eggs, and sperm, must be viable and fertilize successfully. That fertilization must result in a healthy embryo. That embryo must implant accordingly in the uterus. Once implanted, the embryo must continue to develop. There are many facets to IVF success, and many reasons for failed IVF. Here are some of the more common possibilities why your IVF failed.
- Your eggs were not viable: Fertility drugs are administered to create an overstimulation of the ovaries. This results in the release of many oocytes, or eggs. When the eggs are retrieved, they are put together with the sperm to facilitate fertilization. In some cases, most commonly age, a woman’s eggs are not adequate to successfully fertilize. From your mid-, to late-30’s, your eggs begin to diminish in number as well as quality.
- Fertilization was not successful: In some cases fertilization simply does not occur. This can be because of the quality of the eggs, or sperm.
- Embryo did not implant: There are two common reasons an embryo fails to implant. The first is because the uterine environment is inadequate to support the embryo. Possibly due to the endometrium, scar tissue, or an undetected, pre-existing issue. The second reason embryos fail to implant is often because the embryo itself has a chromosomal abnormality. It’s essential to the success of IVF that your embryos undergo PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) to determine the genetic health of the embryo. This testing significantly improves the chances of successful implantation. Women over 35 are at greater risk for chromosomal deficient eggs, and the risk rises with age.
- An inadequate number of follicles may result in IVF cycle cancellation: If the age of the patient (and thus, her ovaries) is over 35, the number of healthy follicles may not be enough to produce an adequate number of eggs. In many cases, this can be overcome by administering an “age appropriate” dose/type of ovarian stimulation drug.
- Lifestyle Factors: There’s no doubt you want to be the best possible candidate for IVF success. This can mean making sure you are living a healthy life. Smoking will directly impact your IVF success. Women who smoke typically require twice as many IVF attempts to become pregnant, and are at a much higher risk for miscarriage. If you are under-, or over-weight, you are more likely to experience failed IVF.
It’s important to grieve after a failed IVF. The emotional impact is as overwhelming as the loss of a pregnancy, even if the IVF didn’t result in an embryo. You’ll experience a profound sadness and depression. It’s completely normal, however you will need to speak with your doctor. You, and your partner, should seek support before moving forward in your treatment.
When deciding what your next steps will be, consider these options:
- Another attempt at IVF: Speak with Dr. Bayrak and determine whether any adjustments to the IVF cycle need to be made. It’s not uncommon for successful IVF to require more than one attempt. Depending on the reason for the prior failed IVF, PGT may be indicated.
- Third party donor: For those women who experience inadequate, or non-viable, eggs, donor eggs may be the answer. Donors are thoroughly screened, and are under 30, so their eggs are healthy.
- Surrogacy: Some women, for whatever reason, cannot carry a fertilized embryo to term. This may result in failure of the embryo to implant, or repeated miscarriages, even after successful IVF. A surrogate isn’t directly genetically related to the embryo. That’s all you, and your partner. She is simply a gestational carrier. Many couples turn to someone they know, with whom they have a bond. Others select from those surrogates solicited through advertising. Once your surrogate is selected, she will undergo both a thorough psychological, and medical examination.
You do Have Options
If you aren’t ready to give up on growing your family through fertility treatments, then it helps to know you have options. Speak with Dr. Bayrak, and let him know your concerns after a failed IVF. Seek out other treatment, or testing and evaluation, under the caring and compassionate supervision of our medical, and support staff.