No matter how many times you’ve been through an IVF cycle, knowing it has failed is devastating. So often, we tell ourselves that the cycle will work, and we get ready for a positive outcome when we test.
But if it doesn’t work, where do you turn and what do you do next? If you’ve pinned all your hopes on IVF, it can feel as though every door is now closed to you.
I’ve experienced failed IVF cycles on my fertility journey and unfortunately, it happens to some of my clients too. There’s so much information out there about why IVF may fail but far less about how to cope if it happens to you. That’s why I wanted to write this blog to provide that support if you need it.
Recovering physically, mentally and emotionally is so important after a failed IVF cycle so that your body can feel safe enough to continue your fertility journey (if this is what you choose to do).
Why Does IVF Fail and Why You’re Not To Blame
After a failed IVF cycle, it’s only natural to seek answers about what happened to help us cope with the loss. You may wonder if there is something you can do differently in the future or if you were somehow to blame.
IVF cycles can fail for many different reasons and I want you to know that it’s NOT your fault. You did nothing wrong so there’s no sense in giving yourself a hard time about what you could have done differently.
After the embryo transfer, the implantation is almost completely out of your hands. Some couples are successful on their first IVF cycle but it can take multiple cycles to get pregnant. Having a failed IVF cycle doesn’t mean that you’ll never be successful. It just means it didn’t happen this time.
But because there’s so little you can do to influence implementation, it’s important to show yourself love and support after a negative test result.
The Emotional Impact When IVF Doesn’t Work
IVF can be such a rollercoaster. The hope and excitement can quickly come crashing down if you get a negative test result and the feelings of despair, grief and hopelessness can become all-consuming,
The emotional toll is often the hardest thing to bear when IVF doesn’t work. Even though you may have spent thousands of pounds to get to this point, the grief you’re experiencing is far worse than the financial implications. It can affect every aspect of your life, including your relationship with your partner.
If the people around you have never personally experienced a failed IVF cycle (or IVF, full stop), it’s hard for them to fully understand why your sense of loss and grief is so all-consuming. You had such big hopes and dreams for that tiny embryo and having to let go of that is painful.
It’s okay to stay away from things that may trigger an even stronger sense of grief. You’ll quickly work out what kind of things are going to act as triggers for you personally and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself first and doing what you need to do to work through your grief. Sometimes, this will extend to people, especially if they don’t understand what you’re going through and are mentally draining.
The Physical Impact
Your body has gone through a lot physically during and in the run-up to IVF treatment. There’s the physical impact after the fertility medications and the adjustment as your body resets.
Your body needs an opportunity to recover. On a similar note, it’s easy to blame your body for “letting you down” but what we really want to do is nurture it and show it love. This is the perfect time to nourish your mind and body with nutritious food and look after yourself physically and emotionally. Take the time to recharge and heal.
What To Do Next After Failed IVF
Some of the other steps you can take to help you to recover physically and emotionally after failed IVF include:
Go easy on yourself and give yourself time to pause and grieve. You’ve been through so much, both physically and emotionally. Trying to fight this can make it much harder to recover.
Don’t be afraid to keep your cards close to your chest
You don’t need to tell people when you’re going to be doing a test and it’s okay to keep these types of details to yourself. The people around you may mean well when they’re asking how you’ve got on but it can tip you over the edge after a negative test result. Even if you have told people you’ll be testing, you don’t necessarily need to tell them the result straight away. You get to decide what to tell people and when.
Consider your options
There may be other options that you can explore to increase your chances of success and this is a conversation you can have with medical professionals when the time is right.
In the meantime, sit down with your partner and talk about your next steps. Do you have the financial means to think about another IVF cycle anytime soon? Do you feel physically and emotionally prepared to try again or do you want to take a break and give your mind and body a chance to recover? It’s always tempting to jump straight into another IVF cycle to try to cope with your grief but it’s not always the right decision for you as a couple.
If you haven’t already spent a few months prior to IVF on pre-conception support, this is something to think about too. There’s a lot we can do to optimise your health and help your body to feel safe enough to conceive and sometimes, this is the difference between a successful IVF cycle and a failed one. We can look to improve egg and sperm quality through nutrition and lifestyle so that this is less of a factor in the future, for example.
Give Yourself Time and Space To Grieve and Heal
Even if you plan to continue with your fertility journey sooner rather than later, give yourself the opportunity to grieve first. And if you feel you need to shut yourself away from the world for a while, that’s okay. Do what you have to do to get through the loss and grief, and when you’re ready, you can think about what you want to do next.