A failed IVF cycle is still a loss

A failed IVF cycle is devastating to everyone involved and is completely numbing and discouraging when it happens.  It can be difficult to find a balance between grieving the past and having hope for the future.

This failure can occur when an embryo implantation fails or when an egg retrieval results in no viable embryos.  When you think about the endless time, energy, money, and hope put into the IVF process and for it not to go as planned is heartbreaking.

Here are a few tips to get through a failed IVF cycle:

Talk to someone you love
It is a good idea to surround yourself with loved ones to share your feelings and process what you are going through.  Getting your emotions out, will help with healing and talking to someone you trust, opens the door to receiving support and validation. Keep in mind that you and your partner may grieve in different ways and that is completely ok.

Spend time in nature
Allow yourself to connect with the living environment and try to put your feelings at peace.  Body movement and using your 5 senses will help you to acknowledge and work through the hard feelings and emotions that you are experiencing.

Prepare for your follow-up appointment
After a failed IVF cycle, your fertility clinic will schedule a follow-up appointment with your fertility specialist.  At this appointment, your specialist will go over anything that may have contributed to why your IVF cycle didn’t go as planned.  In preparation for this appointment, spend some time making a list of any questions like:
“What would be different if we did another cycle?”
“What tests would you recommend?”
“How long should I wait to grieve or start another cycle?”

Consider your options
After the follow-up appointment, the next step is to consider your options. Take some time to process your failed cycle before making any decisions.  When emotions run high you may not weigh the pros or cons of each option fairly. Options you may consider include:

  • Pursuing additional testing and or type of treatment
  • Pursuing an egg donor, sperm donor, or surrogate
  • Taking a break

Don’t be afraid to take a break if that is what you feel you need at this moment in time.

Options to consider:
Second attempt at IVF: During IVF treatment a patient may require more than one attempt to get pregnant. Before going for the second IVF treatment, the fertility specialist may prescribe some tests for you and your partner to look for any condition that may hinder the fertility treatment. The specialist may also suggest lifestyle changes that may increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Third-party donor: If there are issues with you or your partner’s fertility, a fertility specialist may advise you to consider a third-party egg or sperm donor. This is mostly recommended for women with low ovarian reserve or non-viable eggs and when there is an abnormal sperm count, sperm morphology or sperm motility.

Surrogacy: Some women cannot carry a pregnancy, because of an abnormality in their uterus that is when an option of surrogacy may be considered.  Surrogacy occurs when a gestational carrier (surrogate) carries an embryo for you and your partner for nine months.

Make lifestyle changes
You may consider making some lifestyle changes to increase your chances of conception that you have not previously tired.  Examples of lifestyle changes include making changes to your diet, consider different forms of exercise, supplements, and meditation.

TIP: Spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and avocado are all foods that help with balancing hormones.

As important as it is to work on improving your physical health, it is not worth sacrificing your mental health. If only eating healthy for 3-4 days a week works for you, that’s great! Small changes can make a difference.

Going through fertility treatments is not easy and can take a toll on your body and mind. Listening to your physical and emotional needs is crucial to overcoming a failed IVF cycle.  After IVF treatment, it can take some time for your body to regulate its hormone levels again.  Go easy on yourself, whether that means reaching out to support groups or starting a new hobby.  Your body and mind will thank you later!

Lastly, it’s important to remember that a failed IVF cycle is not necessarily where your fertility story ends. It does not rule out the possibility of growing your family, and it is NOT your fault. Keep taking steps forward on your fertility journey by grieving, talking to your fertility specialist, and consider your options.  You are never alone.