What to do if you are Having Repeated IVF Failure?
UPDATED ON 1 FEB. 2024
As someone who has been through multiple in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles without success, we know how disappointing and draining repeated failure can feel.
When you see cycle after cycle end without achieving your dream of bringing home a baby, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless and wonder if IVF will ever work for you. Even though every failed round is heartbreaking, please don’t lose faith.
IVF success rates with each new cycle do decrease, but there are many things you and your fertility specialist can do to try and improve your odds next time. In this post I want to discuss some of the key steps to consider if you find yourself facing repeated IVF failure, including medical tests that may provide answers, protocol changes your clinic can make, and emotional support strategies to help you through this difficult journey.
I hope that by learning more about potential reasons for past failures and ways to optimize future attempts, you’ll feel a renewed sense of empowerment and hope as you move forward in your family-building process.
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Evaluate the Root Cause of Failure
To start addressing repeated IVF failure, it’s imperative to reassess and scrutinize all prior procedures, tests, and treatments.
A comprehensive consultation with your fertility specialist can shed light on potential underlying medical, biological, or genetic factors potentially contributing to your situation. Armed with this knowledge, you can then work with your specialist to adjust and optimize your treatment plan.
Subjects to be thoroughly examined include ovarian reserve status, sperm health, the quality of embryos, and the condition of the uterine environment. Genetic testing, such as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), might also be recommended. This examination can detect potential chromosomal abnormalities in embryos before they are transferred, thereby increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Remember, understanding the root cause is a crucial step in formulating a successful strategy for your next IVF cycle. Being fully informed about your medical history and having an open, honest dialogue with your fertility specialist will improve your chances of success.
Optimise Treatment Plan
Tailoring and optimising your treatment protocol plays a significant role in enhancing your chances of a successful IVF cycle. One area to consider is adjusting the medication prescribed. This could involve increasing or decreasing the dosage, or even changing the medication entirely depending on how your body has previously responded.
Stimulation protocols could also be re-evaluated. For instance, if previous cycles resulted in a low number of eggs, a different stimulation protocol might be more beneficial. Conversely, if you’ve experienced ovarian hyperstimulation, a milder stimulation method could be adopted.
Techniques such as Assisted Hatching or the use of Embryo Glue during transfer could also be considered. Assisted Hatching involves creating a small hole in the zona pellucida (the outer layer of the embryo) to facilitate the embryo’s implantation in the uterine lining. Embryo Glue, on the other hand, is a substance used to enhance the attachment of the embryo to the endometrium.
Please bear in mind that these adjustments should always be under the guidance of your fertility specialist, who will make recommendations based on their expert knowledge and your specific medical history. Changes made without proper consultation could lead to unforeseen complications.
Explore Alternative Techniques
Consider exploring alternative techniques that might be better suited to your specific circumstances. For instance, you might benefit from a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) instead of a fresh transfer. In FET, the embryos are frozen and transferred in a subsequent cycle, which allows your body to recover from the effects of the ovarian stimulation.
Another alternative could be the use of Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA) testing. This technique involves evaluating the period of endometrial receptivity, commonly known as the window of implantation, to ascertain the best time for embryo transfer.
Natural Cycle IVF or Mini-IVF, which involves a lower dosage of stimulation medications, could also be an option worth considering. These methods aim to retrieve higher quality eggs rather than a large quantity, which could potentially improve the chances of successful implantation.
Again, it is crucial to discuss these alternatives with your fertility specialist to determine the most beneficial and appropriate course of action for your own unique situation.
Remember, what works well for one person may not necessarily work for another, and it is essential to find a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your needs.
Choosing the highest quality embryo for transfer is a crucial step in the IVF process. Advancements in medical technology now provide several methods to aid in this selection. Time-lapse embryo monitoring is one such technique, which involves continual monitoring and capturing images of the developing embryos to identify those with the most potential.
Another significant advancement is Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A). This technique analyses the embryos for chromosomal abnormalities before transfer. By selecting chromosomally normal (euploid) embryos, the chances of successful implantation and a healthy pregnancy can significantly increase.
However, it’s important to be aware that these techniques, while highly beneficial, are not a guarantee of success and should be considered in conjunction with your overall treatment plan.
Always consult with your fertility specialist to understand the benefits and limitations of these and make the best decision based on your unique circumstances.
Additional Support and Coping Strategies
When going through the IVF process, it can be incredibly beneficial to seek additional support and advice from reproductive endocrinologists. These specialists can provide further insight and guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.
Exploring adjunct therapies, such as acupuncture, might be worth considering. Some studies suggest that acupuncture could potentially enhance implantation by improving blood flow to the uterus and reducing stress. However, it’s important to discuss this with your fertility specialist before starting.
Also Read: Can IVF fail due to stress?
Dietary and lifestyle changes can also play a pivotal role in enhancing implantation. Eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods, staying physically active, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress can all contribute to overall health and potentially improve fertility outcomes.
The emotional journey of IVF can be challenging, and it’s crucial to have coping strategies in place. Counselling can be a valuable tool, providing a safe and supportive space to express feelings, manage stress and anxiety, and navigate the emotional complexities of fertility treatment.
Remember, each person’s journey is unique, and what works for one doesn’t always work for another. It’s important to find the right balance and approach that works best for you. Always consult with your fertility specialist before making any changes to your treatment plan.
” Every individual and couple’s journey is unique, and
finding the right solutions tailored to their specific
circumstances can make all the difference “
When to Pause or Stop: Listening to Yourself and Your Doctor
Knowing when to pause or stop IVF treatment can be a challenging decision to make. An open and honest conversation with your doctor about the options available, as well as the likelihood of success versus risks associated with repeat failures, can be incredibly helpful. Your doctor can provide personalized advice based on your unique situation and medical history.
If IVF has not been successful after several attempts, it may be worth considering other family-building options such as surrogacy or adoption. These alternatives can fulfill your desire to become a parent and provide a loving home for a child. Each path has its complexities and considerations, and it’s crucial to research thoroughly and seek professional advice if these options are being considered.
Ultimately, your mental and physical well-being should be the top priority throughout the process. The journey to parenthood can be demanding, and it’s important to ensure you’re giving yourself the care and attention you need. Listen to your body, consult with your doctor, and take the necessary time to decide what’s best for you.
Seeking a Second Opinion: A Fresh Perspective
There may come a time in your fertility journey when seeking a second opinion could be beneficial. If your treatment cycles have repeatedly been unsuccessful, a different perspective from another fertility specialist might provide invaluable insights. Professionals in the field may have varying experiences and approaches, and an alternate view could help to illuminate new paths forward or identify factors previously overlooked.
A fresh pair of experienced eyes could uncover new strategies or treatment alternatives, enhancing your chances of successful family-building. Remember, there is no harm in seeking a second opinion, and it often forms an integral part of your personalised fertility journey.
After failed IVF, the first ovulation’s timing varies, influencing menstrual changes—bleeding intensity, duration, and possible missed periods
Women facing recurrent IVF failures can explore various alternative treatment options, such as alternative medications, hormonal treatments, immunotherapy
Hormonal imbalances or abnormalities in the uterus can lead to the failure of IVF, impacting the embryo’s ability to progress in development