3 Failed IVF Cycles What Next?

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IVF is already tiring enough, but if you experience multiple failed attempts, it can make you discouraged and doubt your ability to have children. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) where the sperm and eggs are collected from the patients and fertilized in a laboratory.

IVF has the highest success rate among all other fertility treatments and is only recommended for couples who have failed to conceive through them. In India, the success rate of IVF treatments is around 50–60%.

Even with the highest success rate, IVF cannot guarantee success for all couples in the first two cycles. Most couples need to go through at least two or three failed IVF cycles to get pregnant.

In some cases

Although it is a fact that IVF can’t give immediate success, it will still be depressing to face repeated failures. So, why are you failing in IVF cycles, and what can you do to improve your chances? Continue reading to learn more about the reasons for IVF failures and what you can do to succeed in it.

Other options After Multiple Failed IVF Attempts

Women who experience recurrent IVF failures can opt for alternative treatment options that can improve their chances of success. They are as follows:

Frozen embryo transfer

This is the process of freezing healthy embryos and preserving them for later use. Studies have proven that this method has a higher success rate than fresh embryo transfer.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)

This is the process of selecting a single healthy sperm and injecting them into the cytoplasm of an oocyte (egg). This method is beneficial for couples with male-factor infertility.

IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically selected Sperm Injection)

 This process is similar to ICSI. The only difference is that the sperm selected are first analyzed under high magnification for higher success.

Donor eggs/sperm/embryo

 This procedure benefits couples whose egg or sperm quality has deteriorated due to age or other factors.


 If the woman is unable to carry the child due to a health condition or genetic abnormality, the couple can opt for surrogacy.

Reasons Behind IVF Failure

If you have already undergone 3 cycles of IVF treatments and are still failing to get pregnant, there might be some underlying reasons for it. Here are some common reasons that can affect your chances of getting pregnant.

Embryo quality

One of the most common reasons IVF doesn’t work is that the embryo doesn’t implant on the uterine lining or stops developing after a while. Mostly, it’s because the embryo isn’t of good quality.

An embryo that has reached the blastocyst stage may look healthy, but it may sometimes have issues that weren’t found in the preimplantation genetic testing (PGT).

If such a flawed embryo is transferred into the uterus, it might not implant and grow, which would mean that the pregnancy did not occur and the IVF attempt failed.

Chromosomal problems

Chromosomal abnormalities are one of the main causes of repeated IVF failure and miscarriages. Chromosomal imbalance occurs when there is an extra or a missing chromosome.

Women who have failed to get pregnant more than once are usually suggested to get genetic testing for any chromosomal abnormalities before trying again. There is a high chance for women in their mid to late 30s to get these genetic problems.

Unhealthy lifestyle

Fertility doctors tell women who want to get pregnant naturally to stop doing things that are bad for their health because they raise the risk of miscarriage. The same is true for women who go through IVF.

Multiple conception failures can also be caused by habits like smoking, drinking, drugs, and not eating healthy foods. Individuals who want to undergo IVF should quit these habits at least 3 months before the process.

Being underweight or obese also affects how well an IVF cycle works. These women might need more IVF cycles than women who follow a healthy lifestyle.

Age of the Eggs

There’s no denying that women possess only a limited amount of eggs, and that number goes down as they get older. As a woman gets closer to menopause, both the quantity and quality of eggs start to decrease.

Women have a limited number of ovarian eggs, and the ability to produce mature eggs that can be fertilized decreases as years go by. If they try IVF in their mid to late 30s, they may have to experience more than one IVF failure.

Autoimmune disorders

The embryo may not be able to grow well in the uterus if antibodies start to fight healthy cells or tissues because of an autoimmune disorder.

Success Rate with the Fourth Cycle of IVF

According to many studies conducted by experts, it has been proven that the success rates of IVF treatments increase after 3 to 4 failed attempts. This is especially true for women who are in their 30s.

When their IVF success rate was around 30% during the first cycle, doctors found that it increased to over 50% during the fourth cycle. The success rate may even increase to up to 65% if the patient undergoes six IVF cycles.


Failing repeatedly in IVF cycles can be discouraging to most couples. So it is best to consult a doctor to understand what went wrong and the measures that could be taken to increase the chances of pregnancy.

More than physical strength, women need to be emotionally stable to undergo these numerous cycles. Talking with their partner, friends, and family can also give women the strength and reassurance they need when undergoing the IVF process.

Frequently asked questions

Even though many women give up on IVF after three or four failed attempts, a study shows that the chances of success keep improving up to nine cycles. Women need to be patient and hope that they will become pregnant in any of the IVF cycles.

The quality of the embryos is the main reason why IVF doesn’t work for many couples. Because they are abnormal in some way, many embryos can’t grow inside the uterus after being transferred. Even eggs that look good in the lab might have problems that result in miscarriage instead of letting them grow.

Two-thirds of couples will have a live birth after five or six IVF cycles. This is especially true if the woman is younger than 40 or if they use donor eggs. This will take, on average, two years, which is about the same amount of time it takes for a couple to get pregnant on their own.

After a failed IVF attempt, women can start their next IVF cycle after around four to six weeks. Before starting another round of IVF, it is best to wait until the patient has had at least one full menstrual cycle.

Picture of Dr. Rukkayal Fathima
Dr. Rukkayal Fathima

Dr Rukkayal Fathima, India's Leading Gynaecologist and the best fertility doctor in Chennai. She has 11+ years of experience and treated 1000+ patients. She finished her M. S., Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Institute of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Madras Medical College), Chennai. She is a visiting consultant at St. Isabelle Hospital, Motherhood Hospital, Rainbow Hospital & Mehta Hospital. Dr Rukkayal Fathima specialises in Obstetrics care, Early Pregnancy Scan, IVF, ICSI, TESA/Micro TESE, Menopause advice, Gynaecological surgeries and endoscopy. She is a Co-Founder of Hive Fertility, the Best Fertility Center in Chennai.

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