Currently, IVF is the most successful infertility treatment available and the answer to overcoming many of the causes of infertility. In a controllably precise process your doctor stimulates the growth of multiple eggs using medication and then harvests the eggs. The lab fertilizes your viable eggs using your partner’s (or donor) sperm. Embryos develop and your doctor transfers the most viable to your uterus. At that point, ideally, the embryo(s) attaches and develops into a healthy baby.
But what happens when the embryo(s) doesn’t attach to the uterus or if you miscarry shortly thereafter? As successful as IVF is there are times when the procedure fails to result in pregnancy. In fact, IVF failure may occur multiple times and, as you may imagine, is extremely devastating for those couples who deeply desire a child.
When you’ve experienced multiple IVF failures it’s often difficult to consider next steps. Is your dream of carrying a baby to term over? And what are the reasons behind your multiple IVF failures? Here we take a look at some of the reasons IVF ails and what doctors say you need to do next.
Defining Multiple IVF Failure
In multiple IVF failures there are three or more failed attempts at IVF using good quality embryos. The term applies to both those who fail to become pregnant and hose whose early pregnancy ends in miscarriage.
Reasons IVF Fails
There are many reasons for IVF failure and not all of them put an end to the possibility for future success, nor are they solely attributed to the mother. Getting to the bottom of why IVF failed for you on multiple occasions.
Quality of Embryo
One of the most common reasons for IVF failure is that the embryos simply stop developing. When embryos fail to implant after transfer it’s often due to a defect undiscovered in preimplantation genetic testing. The embryo fails to implant because it was not healthy enough to grow.
Age of Eggs
The age of the egg affects the quality of the embryo. For women over the age of 35, this can lead to repeated IVF failure. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have and as they age the eggs begin to diminish in quality. The closer to menopause the more difficult it is to harvest viable eggs. Women under 35 have a rate of implantation around 45% but women who are over the age of 40 typically have an implantation rate of around 15%.
Autoimmune diseases affect around 10% of the population and women make up 80% of those diagnosed with autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system response attacks healthy tissue which results in destruction of those cells and inflammation. Some of the more common immune disorders are Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Addison’s disease, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and Lupus.
The antibodies present in those women who have certain autoimmune diseases prevent implantation of the embryo and multiple IVF failures. Some individuals don’t know they have an autoimmune disease until they begin looking for answers for their inability to conceive.
Chromosomal abnormalities in embryos are the major factors in IVF failure, just as it is in natural conception. Beginning in her mid-30s there is an increase in chromosome abnormalities in a woman’s eggs. By the time she reaches her mid-40s these abnormalities increase to a whopping 75%. Men’s sperm also increases in chromosomal abnormalities as he ages.
Preimplantation genetic screening or testing detects chromosomal abnormalities prior to implanting the embryos in the uterus. Some couples decline the testing and may possibly experience multiple IVF failures due to chromosome abnormalities in their embryo(s).
The same lifestyle factors that cause miscarriage in natural conception are also detrimental to those undergoing IVF. Smoking, alcohol usage, poor nutrition or being significantly under- or overweight all impact your IVF success. In fact, in women who smoke, on average, twice as many IVF cycles are necessary for conception and there is a greater chance of miscarriage.
Your Next Steps
For many couples a few cycles of IVF are necessary before you achieve success. Repeated IVF failures take an intense emotional and physical toll on those involved. Your doctor will advise you after each failure and recommend testing before you move forward. At that point you do have options, depending on the results of those tests.
Doctors advise preimplantation genetic testing for those who have multiple IVF failures. Screening your embryos for chromosomal abnormalities prior to implantation leads to a higher rate of IVF success.
IVF using donor eggs is another path to a successful outcome for those whose physician determines age or quality of eggs as the reason for the IVF failure. A lab screens donor eggs for viability and harvested from healthy young women. A family member may be willing to donate her eggs.
Gestational surrogacy is a viable option for those who experience recurrent implantation failure. The lab fertilizes the intended mother’s eggs with the father’s sperm. Your doctor transfers the viable embryo(s) into the uterus of a gestational surrogate.
You Have Options
Failed IVF does not mean you should close the door on your dreams of parenthood. You do have options. For more on the steps you can take after multiple IVF failures contact LA IVF.