What to do if an IVF cycle doesn't work

Apr 30, 2019
What to do if an IVF cycle doesn't work
Though the success rates for in vitro fertilization (IVF) are high, not every cycle will result in a pregnancy. As a result, many couples who choose to undergo IVF may end up doing multiple rounds.

Though the success rates for in vitro fertilization (IVF) are high, not every cycle will result in a pregnancy. As a result, many couples who choose to undergo IVF may end up doing multiple rounds. We understand that this can be incredibly difficult for couples, not only emotionally but also financially. It’s why we do all that we can to ensure your IVF cycle is a success. If your latest IVF cycle didn’t result in a pregnancy, here’s what our doctors recommend doing next.

Don’t give up hope

Despite the grief and frustration you may be feeling, it is important not to give up hope. It is not uncommon that a couple may need to go through IVF more than once to be successful. Your dream of having a family can still become a reality.

Don’t blame yourself

When an IVF cycle fails, it’s common for couples to blame themselves somehow. But you cannot control the outcome of fertility treatments! It’s not your fault. If the pressure and frustration of your fertility treatment is weighing on you, it may help to talk to someone. One option is to talk with our onsite therapist, who has deep expertise in the ups and downs of infertility.

Schedule a follow-up

If your IVF cycle has failed, it’s important to schedule a follow-up consultation with your physician as soon as possible. This will allow your physician to walk you through all aspects of the cycle - estrogen response, number of eggs, the appearance of the lining of the uterus and the actual embryo photos. This consultation also gives you a chance to ask questions and express the ups and downs of what you might be feeling. Your physician will patiently answer all of your questions, and provide you with detailed information regarding your cycle and what comes next.

Your next cycle

Many patients wonder what will be done differently if they attempt IVF a second, third or fourth time. If you have frozen embryos, your next step will typically be a frozen embryo transfer cycle rather than another stimulation cycle and egg retrieval. A frozen embryo transfer cycle is far easier and less stressful than a fresh IVF cycle. There are fewer appointments and the focus is just on the lining of the uterus. This allows more flexibility for the patient!

If your next step is to begin a stimulated cycle for another egg retrieval, your doctor will review in detail your past response. Depending upon the characteristics of your specific cycle, a change in the stimulation protocol may be needed. Although a stimulation protocol is typically based upon your body weight, AMH level and antral follicle count, past response can potentially add additional insight.

The body is a funny thing - sometimes, two IVF cycles will be the same, and only one will be successful. For some couples, no changes are necessary. Either way, it’s important to discuss any potential changes you might need with your physician.

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Uterine evaluation

At CARE Fertility, a thorough evaluation of the uterus is a beginning step for all of our patients. Prior to an IVF cycle, an HSG (the “dye test”) will have been performed on the majority of patients. (In women who have had their tubes tied or have had their tubes removed, this test is not necessary.)

All of our patients undergo a hysteroscopy prior to IVF. If the hysteroscopy has been done elsewhere, we will review the report and, if available, the images or pictures. Hysteroscopy is the most accurate test to make sure there are no physical problems inside the uterus. This is a simple test and takes just a few minutes. A small telescope is passed through the cervix to look inside the uterus where the baby will grow. At CARE Fertility we want to do everything we can prior to an IVF cycle to increase our patient’s chance for success!

Frozen embryo transfer

If you have any healthy embryos from your IVF cycle, the next step is typically to transfer one of them into your uterus. Many couples choose this option after their first IVF cycle has failed. Plus, the success rates of these frozen embryos are comparable to those of fresh embryos.

Recurrent implantation failure (RIF)

If your IVF cycle has failed more than once, now what? Typically, you will need further evaluation due to recurrent implantation failure, or RIF. RIF is defined as the lack of pregnancy after two transfer cycles where a top quality or euploid embryo is transferred.

Visiting with a counselor

Sometimes, talking to a professional can help certain couples deal with the situation at hand. The stress, anxiety and fear of failure are major issues that may keep you from pursuing treatment. A counselor can help you talk through these feelings, and leave you feeling better about what the future holds.

For more information about IVF and what to do if your cycle doesn’t work, be sure to contact our offices. You can reach our Fort Worth office at 817-924-1572 and our Bedford office at 817-540-1157.