Dealing with IVF Failure

Finding out that IVF treatment has not worked can understandably be heartbreaking. It is natural to be disappointed when things don’t work out, even if you tried to temper your hopes beforehand.

Table of contents 

  • How do you deal with IVF failure?
    • Do not blame yourself
    • Take some time to grieve
    • Make the most out of not being pregnant
    • Consider attending counseling
    • Focus on a follow-up appointment
  • What is the most common reason for IVF failure?
    • Quality of the embryo
    • Age of the eggs
    • Ovarian responses
    • Chromosomes
    • Lifestyle choices
  • How soon after failed IVF can you try again?
  • Conclusion

How do you deal with IVF failure?

Do not blame yourself

blaming yourself

When fertility treatment fails, try not to blame yourself. Chastising yourself by looking back at all the things you did or did not do over the past few years or months will not help you process the disappointment healthily.

Remember that when a particular treatment is unsuccessful, it is not because:

  • You were hesitant to go on that fabled pomegranate bender 
  • Because you choose to forego full-fat milk for breakfast, 
  • That you didn’t lie still after the embryo transfer.

Self-blame is not the way to go and believing that your actions did directly prompt the negative outcome will not help you get through this turbulent time. Punishing yourself through self-blame will achieve nothing other than causing your further distress.

Take some time to grieve


It is important to take some time to realize, accept the failure and come to terms with it. Taking some time will give your body and mind a chance to recover and recollect yourself in readiness for the future.

Failed fertility treatment cycles can be distressing because they cause feelings of loss, emptiness, and sadness that come from exploring a future that you had planned out in a different way. You have every right to feel devastated after the ordeal of medical procedures and embryo transfer.

This is a reason to grieve, allowing you to reconcile with the disappointment and work through it naturally.

Make the most out of not being pregnant

being free

You probably set aside a few things, activities, and foods as things to avoid when pregnant. Once you are free from the IVF-related injections and appointments, you can tuck back into some of those things.

Attend a party, or go on a fast-food binge to take your mind away from the negative aspects of the failed attempt at pregnancy. You are not yet pregnant, so you might as well do the things you had mentally prepared yourself not to do.

Consider attending counseling


If you find that you are struggling with the experience and you need support from someone other than your partner, family members, and friends, consider attending some professional counseling.

The process has been proven effective in helping people overcome difficulties in their personal lives, and it can help you move forward from the distress that accompanies failed IVF treatment cycles.

There are many counseling services and professionals who can help you work through this specific challenge. Your IVF facility definitely offers counseling services, while many public hospitals and private clinics alike have fertility counselors. Feel free to do some research to help you identify the option that suits you best.

Focus on a follow-up appointment


In the first few days and weeks following a failed IVF cycle, it is understandable to feel physically and emotionally drained. This will make it challenging to focus on contemplating a fresh IVF cycle, mainly resulting from the overwhelming grief that accompanies the experience.

After a few weeks, once the emotional lows have settled a bit, fertility clinics typically schedule follow-up appointments. This allows a physician to review your health status and the previous cycle to understand why it might have gone wrong.

Experts advise holding off on this appointment until you have had a discussion with your fertility specialist. This conversation will help you identify possible changes that you can make to the protocols to increase the chances of success in a subsequent IVF cycle.

If the follow-up appointment results in suspecting the egg quality as the primary cause of the IVF failure, it is worth considering the possibility of some options you may have foregone such as using donor eggs. This can drastically improve the chances of success of a subsequent cycle, and your fertility expert will guide you through such landmark decisions.

What is the most common reason for IVF failure?

Quality of the embryo

Many embryos are defective and thus unable to implant after the transfer procedure. These embryos may appear healthy in a laboratory environment while having defects that kill them off rather than allowing them to grow. This challenge is down to the embryos and not the uterus they are transferred to.

Age of the eggs

As a woman grows older, the quantity and quality of the eggs gradually deteriorate, thus affecting the chances of pregnancy both with and without IVF treatments. Older women are likely to realize higher chances of successful IVF when using donor eggs.

Ovarian responses

In some cases, a woman’s ovaries may not respond to IVF medication as expected, thus failing to produce multiple eggs. This is particularly applicable to women over the age of 37 and those with high follicle-stimulating hormone levels. Fertility experts work with women to evaluate the likelihood of this happening, and they discuss possible changes that can be made to fertility medications.



Chromosomal abnormalities within embryos can prompt IVF failure, whether naturally conceived or developed in a laboratory environment. These abnormalities cause miscarriages and IVF failure and are more common in women over the age of 30.

Lifestyle choices

Smokers typically require multiple IVF cycles to conceive successfully and are more likely to experience miscarriage compared to non-smokers. Overweight and underweight individuals also have a lower chance of successful IVF treatments.

How soon after failed IVF can you try again?


Experts recommend waiting between 4 to 6 weeks after a negative pregnancy test to initiate another complete cycle. However, every person is different and you should wait until you feel comfortable trying again.


Fertility treatment can be extremely tough. It is quite difficult to guarantee successful fertility treatment because of the many factors involved, some of which are beyond your control.You can use the written experiences documented by other parents and professionals to find out more about IVF treatments and how to improve your chances of success in the delicate process. Find more information from members of our community to be better informed on IVF treatment cycles.

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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.

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