IVF Failure – Staying Positive & Options for Success

By MD, PhD, MSc (gynecologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist), MD, MSc, BSc (gynecologist), (embryologist) and (invitra staff).
Last Update: 12/16/2020

It is always difficult to cope with the news of a negative pregnancy test, but it is especially difficult when you have been trying for pregnancy for a long time and undergo a fertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The beginning of menstruation approximately two weeks after the embryo transfer is a severe blow, as it indicates that IVF has not been successful.

However, it is important to know that the probability of achieving a pregnancy on the first IVF attempt is complicated, just as in natural conception. Therefore, IVF patients should not lose hope and keep trying as soon as they are emotionally prepared.

In this article, we will give some advice on how to cope with a negative IVF result and explain some of the possible reasons for this pregnancy test result.

Pregnancy test result

Once the embryo transfer has been performed, it is necessary to wait at least 12-15 days to perform the pregnancy test. If this pregnancy test is performed early, the likelihood of an abnormal result increases. In particular, a pregnancy test outside of the indicated date could give a false positive or false negative.

In addition, specialists recommend not taking the pregnancy test at home, but waiting for the blood test at the clinic itself to obtain a more reliable result. Blood pregnancy tests provide more accurate results, as they measure the amount of the hormone beta hCG, a hormone that starts to be produced by the embryo itself after implantation in the woman's uterus.

If the beta-hCG test is done at the right time and in the right way, the chances of getting a wrong result are very low. Therefore, if a blood test for the beta hormone hCG gives a negative result, we can confirm that the IVF treatment has not worked and that the woman is not pregnant.

Despite this, it is quite common for the specialist to indicate that the pregnancy test should be repeated after two or three days to confirm IVF failure with greater certainty.

If you want more information about this test, I recommend you check this link: When to Do a Pregnancy Test?

Causes of a negative IVF

When a patient or couple gets a negative pregnancy test result, they may wonder what the reason was. However, there are various reasons as to why IVF has failed. The fertility specialists will be responsible for assessing the possible reason why pregnancy has not been achieved after a round of IVF.

Below, we are going to list some of the medical reasons that could be the cause of a negative IVF:

  • An incomplete diagnosis of the infertility cause.
  • Low quality of the gametes (eggs and sperm).
  • Poor embryonic quality.
  • Presence of genetic alterations in the parents.
  • Immunological disorders.
  • Undetected uterine malformations.

For these reasons, when patients are ready for a new IVF attempt, the medical specialist will make appropriate adjustments to increase success in the next IVF cycle.

Menstruation after a negative IVF

You might ask yourself how long it would take for the menstruation to set in after a confirmed negative IVF.

Generally, the question arises because of the strong desire to try again for pregnancy since the beginning of the menstruation marks the beginning of a new cycle, and thus, the possibility to undergo a new IVF cycle.

If you need to undergo IVF to become a mother, we recommend that you generate your Fertility Report now. In 3 simple steps, it will show you a list of clinics that fit your preferences and meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, you will receive a report via email with useful tips to visit a fertility clinic for the first time.

Although it is expected that the period sets in after taking the pregnancy test, that is, about two weeks after the transfer, a slight delay is absolutely normal. Medication administered during IVF treatment, both for ovarian stimulation and for endometrial preparation, may cause hormonal imbalances that are responsible for a delayed period.

If menstruation has not set in after two weeks since you last took your medication, it is advisable to ask your fertility doctor in order to check the hormone system and its effect on the ovarian cycle.

It is also possible that the first period after IVF treatment may be more painful or different from the usual menstruation bleedings due to the effects of hormonal drugs and the IVF treatment itself.

Coping with a negative IVF

As we have mentioned, accepting a negative result during in vitro fertilization is not easy, especially from the emotional point of view. Here you have some tips for coping with a negative pregnancy test and regaining strength for a new IVF cycle:

  • Don't torture yourself with unanswered questions like: “what did I do?”, “what did I miss?”, “how could it go wrong?”, “what could I have done”? They do not help patients to feel better after a negative IVF and they do not help with the next IVF cycle. These questions only makes you feel sad.
  • If necessary, cry. It's good to let off steam and not suppress emotions.
  • Performing relaxation exercises such as yoga or mindfulness techniques can be beneficial in calming anxiety, reducing negativity and increasing positive attitude, which is essential to start a new attempt.
  • Sharing feelings can help to better assimilate the negative in pregnancy tests
  • In case you have decided to inform friends, family and acquaintances that you are in a fertility clinic trying to conceive, it is advisable to make clear that you do not want to answer questions. You will simply report the results when you are ready. This avoids uncomfortable questions and compromising situations.
  • Resorting to psychological help in cases where the negative result has caused great distress, anxiety or emotional stress may be necessary and very positive in order to cope.

Psychological help

The vast majority of reproductive centers have fertility psychologists who are willing to help their patients not only to accept fertility problems and the need for assisted reproduction in order to conceive a child but also to offer emotional support throughout the process, including the final pregnancy test.

When this test shows a negative result, there are many feelings that surface, illusions that are broken, and frustration generated. In this respect, having the psychological support of specialists who understand what you are going through and who offer you help tailored to your situation can reduce the distressing situation.

Moreover, this help is also important to face a new reproductive challenge, forgetting the negative outcome of the previous one. Undergoing a new fertility treatment when you have just had a negative experience is not easy. Psychological support in this sense is essential to be able to put all the enthusiasm and effort into the new cycle, as attitude plays an important role in the outcome of a fertility treatment.

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).

What should I do to achieve pregnancy if I'm already going through the third negative IVF?

By Carmen Ochoa Marieta MD, PhD, MSc (gynecologist).

You should stop, study the possible cause and assess what reproductive treatment is indicated from the results obtained.

What are the symptoms of a negative IVF?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez (embryologist).

There are no symptoms that indicate that a fertility treatment has not been successful. Specifically, after the embryo transfer until the time of the pregnancy test, some women have a strong urge to urinate, mood swings, headaches, etc.

However, these symptoms are not specific to the implantation of the embryo in the uterus, and therefore to pregnancy.

For this reason, the presence or absence of symptoms during Beta-Wait is not indicative of success or failure, respectively, of an IVF treatment.

Suggested for you

After obtaining a negative result in the first IVF, it is usual to try to achieve a positive result in a second IVF. There are those who throw in the towel after the second or third attempt and those who continue until they achieve pregnancy after the 6th or 7th IVF cycle. But how do you know when it’s enough? We talk about this in the following article: Number of attempts in Assisted Reproduction.

It is also common for us to want to know the reason for the failure in order to do better in the next IVF attempt. Therefore, it is important to know the different factors that influence the success rates of this technique. If you want to know what they are, click on this link: Factors that influence IVF success.

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

References

Fanchin R, Harmas A, Benaoudia F, Lundkvist U, Olivennes F, Frydman R. Microbial flora of the cervix assessed at the time of embryo transfer adversely affects in vitro fertilization outcome. Fertil Steril. 1998 Nov;70(5):866-70. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(98)00277-5.

Gleicher N, A Kushnir V, F Albertini D, H Barad D. Improvements in IVF in women of advanced age. J Endocrinol. 2016 Jul;230(1):F1-6. doi: 10.1530/JOE-16-0105. Epub 2016 May 6.

Miller N, Herzberger E, Pasternak Y, Klement A, Shavit T, Tamir Yaniv R, Ghetler Y, Neumark E, Matzkin Eisenberg M, Berkovitz A, Shulman A, Wiser A. Does stress affect IVF outcomes? A prospective study of physiological and psychological stress in women undergoing IVF. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019 Jul;39(1):93-101. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2019.01.012.

Ricci S, De Giorgi E, Lazzeri E, Luddi A, Rossi S, Piomboni P, De Leo V, Pozzi G. Impact of asymptomatic genital tract infections on in vitro Fertilization (IVF) outcome. PLoS One. 2018 Nov 16;13(11):e0207684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207684. eCollection 2018.

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?', 'What should I do to achieve pregnancy if I'm already going through the third negative IVF?' and 'What are the symptoms of a negative IVF?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Carmen Ochoa Marieta
Carmen Ochoa Marieta
MD, PhD, MSc
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Basque Country University. PhD in Medicine & Surgery from the University of Murcia. Currently, she is the director of the Assisted Reproduction Unit of Centro de Estudios para la Reproducción (CER SANTANDER) in Santander, Spain, as well as the director of the Diagnostic Unit of Human Assisted Reproduction in Bilbao. More information about Carmen Ochoa Marieta
License: 484805626
 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
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
Gynecologist
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
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
Embryologist
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
inviTRA Staff
Editor and translator for the English and German edition of inviTRA. More information about Romina Packan

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