Depending on your infertility diagnosis, IVF may be the first or the last stop on your fertility journey. In either case, it’s always the last effort to help you conceive a baby. When an IVF cycle results in a negative pregnancy test, or a miscarriage, it is devastating.
For the June Stop on the Roadmap to Fertility, we explore the realities of Failed IVF cycles: how to cope, how to determine your next step, and how to know when enough is enough.
Of course, if you have learned anything at all about in-vitro fertilization (IVF) you know that the chances of success are correlated with a variety of factors, including the quality of the egg, the quality of the sperm, the quality of the resulting embryos, etc. Thus, you probably knew that failure was a possibility.
But that’s not much help now. Now is the time to forget all you “know” and just listen to your heart.
Cry and Sob and Wail. Give yourself a good chance to cry and sob and wail. Yes, you knew it might not work. But you also hoped deep, deep down that you would be the exception to the rule. That deserves a good bit of crying, sobbing and wailing.
Wait for your follow up appointment. You’ll have a follow up appointment and there you can find out information about what might have gone wrong, what your doctor feels could increase your chances of IVF success in the future, and so on.
Things to pay attention to:
- What were your fertilization rates?
- What percentage of the embryos seemed healthy?
- Did you do PGD testing? If not, consider testing any remaining embryos in the hopes that this might increase your chances of IVF success the next time, or consider testing embryos if you’ll be going through another egg retrieval/fertilization cycle.
Give yourself some time. It’s easy to think, “I can never go through that again,” but the reality is that most couples require at least two – and often more – IVF cycles before they give birth to their healthy baby boy or girl.
Coping With Repeat Failed IVF Cycles
The reality is that after reviewing thousands of IVF cycles, fertility experts have concluded that optimal IVF success rates occur when couples undergo six or more IVF cycles. That’s a lot of potential heartbreak, but the payoff can be worth it.
In the meantime, you will need to come up with some serious coping strategies.
Meet With a Fertility Counselor. If you haven’t already, ask your fertility center for referrals to a licensed therapist who specializes in infertility. Having an objective – but educated, informed and experienced – sounding board can be a tremendous support during the time. Most health insurance companies cover all or a portion of mental health treatments, so there’s a good chance your sessions will be free or low-cost. If your health insurance doesn’t cover it, look for a therapist who offers sliding scale fees. In addition to helping you grapple with the frustration, anxiety, grief and depression that can accompany multiple failed cycles, a counselor can help you and your partner work through your own issues so you are able to maintain strong, loving and intimate bonds.
Consider Egg Donation. In cases where advanced maternal age or diagnosed genetic disorders are compromising egg quality, it might be time to talk about the potential of using a donor egg. While it’s true that the baby will not carry the female’s genetic material, fertility clinics work hard to match couples with egg donors that meet their own physical and personal profiles. In exchange, you are guaranteed the chance to create embryos from young, healthy eggs, which can significantly increase your chances of IVF success.
Consider Embryo Donation. If your embryos seem to be poor quality, your egg reserve is too low to try again and/or the male partner has an infertility diagnosis, you have the option to adopt donor embryos. These embryos are lovingly donated by couples who are not interested in having any more children but want to help other couples just like them, or extra embryos that were created for infertile couples from egg donors, who often produce large batches of viable eggs. It’s another route to enjoying the miracle of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
When to Know if Enough Is Enough
Every woman and/or couple has their own “plateau” where she or they decide, “enough is enough.” Unfortunately, you don’t know what the point is until you actually get there. If you are caught between the nagging feeling that is enough is enough, while part of you still wants to continue, a fertility counselor may be able to help you out.
One thing we have learned: if your partnership is suffering or you are on the brink of serious financial hardship – it’s time to take a break until you can regroup and see things from the bigger perspective.
While we deeply understand the compelling desire to conceive and give birth to your own baby – there are many roads that lead to parenthood, and you’ll know deep down when it’s time to take another look at your fertility roadmap so you can choose a different route.
victor at picjumbo.com