IVF Failure – Staying Positive & Options for Success

By BSc, MSc (embryologist), MD, MSc, BSc (gynecologist) and BA, MA (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 04/01/2014

It can be very hard to cope with a negative pregnancy test, especially if you have been trying to get pregnant for a long time and/or are undergoing a fertility treatment.

Before starting an IVF treatment, both you and your partner should be mentally prepared for the possibility of a negative result and for the stress that this may cause.

When to test for pregnancy after IVF

Once the embryo has been transferred, you should wait at least 15 days before doing a pregnancy test. If you perform it too early, you may get a false positive result. In addition, home-made pregnancy tests are not recommended among women undergoing a fertility treatment. Instead, you should wait to perform a blood test at your clinic.

If you get a beta-hCG (the hormone produced during pregnancy) negative result, it means you are not pregnant. Chances of error are practically non-existent. Therefore, you should not cling to the possibility of having obtained a false negative result. Instead, you should cope with the fact that the treatment has failed and you are not pregnant.

Why is the pregnancy test negative?

Do not become obsessed with unanswered questions like: "what did I do?", "what I did not do?", "why it went wrong?", "what remains to be done?"... These questions are both unhelpful and useless for the next time you try it. Indeed, they only contribute to making you feel sad.

If you need it, cry. Letting off steam and expressing your emotions may be good to you. Moreover, sharing your feelings may help you cope with a negative pregnancy test. If you have decided to let your friends, relatives and/or acquaintances know that you are undergoing an assisted reproductive treatment, you should emphasise the fact that you do not want to be asked about it. Instead, report the results when you are ready. This way you will avoid awkward questions and compromising situations.

The failure of an assisted reproductive treatment does not mean you will not ever have children. Conversely, it just means that this time it did not work. Make time for yourself and whenever you are ready again, try another IVF treatment or assisted reproductive technique.

Psychological help

The vast majority of reproductive centers has a psychology department willing to help patients accept not only their fertility problems, but also to offer support throughout the process, including the final pregnancy test.

When a pregnancy test is negative, many feelings arise, illusions are broken and anxiety increases. Having the support of a specialist, who understands what you are going through and offers personalized help, might help to reduce anguish.

Furthermore, this help is important when it comes to facing another cycle and forgetting the previously failed one. It's not easy to start a new treatment after a negative experience. Psychological support is essential because attitude is very important during the reproductive treatment and may dictate its success.

FAQs from users

I have finished my first IVF cycle and the result was negative, is it time to move to ICSI or should I try again with IVF?

By María Eugenia Ballesteros Moffa MD, MSc, BSc (gynecologist).

It depends on the fertilization rate, if it has been correct (≥65%) it would not be strictly necessary. However, today, the ICSI technique is indicated in almost all cycles to avoid total fertilization failures with conventional IVF, which occur in 5-10% of the cases (data from the Spanish Fertility Society Registry - Registro Sociedad Española de Fertilidad, SEF 2016).

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 María Eugenia Ballesteros Moffa
María Eugenia Ballesteros Moffa
MD, MSc, BSc
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Zaragoza, specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has a long career as a specialized gynecologist in assisted reproduction and is also an associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Zaragoza. More information about María Eugenia Ballesteros Moffa
License: 5010696
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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