Going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a grueling emotional and physical process. You put your life on hold, making sacrifices to have the best chance at success. When you experience IVF failure, you may feel like you have failed yourself, your partner, and your family.
Many couples experience at least one cycle of IVF failure. After failed implantation, there are several ways to help you move forward emotionally and increase your chances of success in future cycles.
Give Yourself Time to Grieve
It is perfectly normal to need time to grieve after experiencing implantation failure. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come: sadness, anger, or disbelief. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time and be gentle with yourself.
Talk to your partner about your feelings and console each other. If you need professional help, don’t hesitate to seek out counseling. There are many online forums and support groups for couples going through IVF. Consider reading success stories to find inspiration and hope, but be careful not to compare your journey to others.
Understand What Happened
After your IVF cycle fails, you undergo a series of tests to determine what went wrong. This is important information to have as you move forward with future cycles.
Your doctor conducts a post-mortem exam of the embryos to check for signs of chromosomal abnormalities. They also test your hormone levels and assess your uterine lining. This information helps your doctor develop a plan for your next cycle.
Do your research as well. Listen to other couples’ experiences and learn as much as you can about the IVF process. The more you know, the better you are equipped to make your treatment decisions. Whether it was a problem with the egg, sperm, or embryos, understanding the cause of failure helps you make necessary changes to increase your chances of success.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Options
You must have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about your treatment options. If you have experienced more than one cycle of IVF failure, your doctor recommends options such as:
- Genetic Testing. This procedure is used to screen embryos for chromosomal abnormalities before implantation. Your doctor also recommends genetic testing of you and your partner to identify potential problems.
- Assisted Hatching. The technique is used to help embryos implant in the uterus by making a small hole in the embryo’s outer layer. This is done before transferring the embryo to the uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). This is a procedure where a sperm gets injected into the egg to fertilize it. It is used when there are problems with sperm quality.
- Donor Eggs or Sperm. If you or your partner have a genetic disorder or problems with the egg or sperm, opt to use donor eggs or sperm.
Make Changes to Your Lifestyle
You need to make several lifestyle changes after implantation failure to improve your chances of success. Consider making changes such as:
- Quit Smoking: If you or your partner smokes, now is the time to quit. Smoking reduces the success rates of IVF by decreasing egg and sperm quality and implantation rates.
- Reduce Stress: Stress has a negative impact on your fertility. Find ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation, exercise, or therapy.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: A nutritious diet is good for you and your partner. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps improve fertility.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight and underweight affects fertility. If you need to lose or gain weight, talk to your doctor about the best ways.
Consider Other Options for Parenthood
If you have experienced multiple IVF cycle failures, consider other available avenues to parenthood, such as other fertility procedures, adoption, or using a surrogate. Surrogacy allows you to have a biological child without going through the IVF process. However, using a surrogate is an emotional experience as you feel you are missing out on the pregnancy experience. Talk to your doctor or a counselor about your feelings before and after you decide to use a surrogate.
Contact a Fertility Specialist to Discuss Your Options after IVF Failure
After experiencing IVF failure, it is normal to feel discouraged and frustrated. Many options are available to you, so don’t give up hope. Talk to your doctor about what you need to do to improve your chances of success in future cycles.