IVF (In vitro fertilization) is one of the most preferred assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) that has helped millions of couples worldwide become parents.
IVF is a complex procedure that involves undergoing a series of procedures. The embryo transfer is the last procedure of IVF, where a fertilized embryo is transferred into the uterus for implantation.
If the embryo implants in the uterus, it is a successful IVF cycle and results in pregnancy. But what happens if the implantation fails? How can you know whether your IVF cycle was a success or not?
Continue reading this article as we discuss the symptoms you can expect during a failed IVF cycle and the measures you can take to avoid failure during your future cycles.
6 IVF Failure Symptoms
Below are some symptoms you can look out for if you suspect your IVF cycle failed.
Vaginal Bleeding and Stomach Pain
Vaginal bleeding is one of the most obvious signs you can look for if you have a failed IVF cycle. Most people confuse this vaginal bleeding with implantation bleeding.
Implantation bleeding is a light spotting you will experience when the fertilized embryo successfully implants in the uterus. This is a sign of a positive pregnancy result.
Implantation bleeding will appear more brownish or blackish, and vaginal bleeding will appear more reddish. So make sure which one you are getting to understand whether your IVF was a success or not.
During this period, you might also experience other symptoms like stomach pain, cramps, nausea, headache, pain in the lower back, etc. Your symptoms will almost be similar to what you experience every time before your periods.
Negative Pregnancy Test Result
This is the most obvious method to know your pregnancy results. You can take a pregnancy test about 2 weeks after an embryo transfer to know whether your IVF cycle was successful.
There are chances you might not know if the vaginal bleeding you got was implantation or menstrual bleeding. To avoid confusion and to be sure, you can buy a pregnancy kit and do a urine pregnancy test at home.
The pregnancy test measures the levels of hCG hormones in your body that are produced only when you are pregnant. You can either take a urine test at home or visit your fertility doctor and take a blood test at the hospital.
Either way, taking a pregnancy test can show you whether your IVF cycle was successful or not. If you get a negative pregnancy test two weeks after embryo transfer, your cycle has most likely failed.
Lack of activity during an ultrasound
Pregnancy tests are mostly accurate. But there are times when they fail to measure the hCG hormones correctly and give you the wrong results. It is always better to take an ultrasound to know your pregnancy result.
Even if you had a failed IVF, you can know why and analyze if any medical treatments are needed.
A chemical pregnancy is when an embryo that has successfully implanted in the uterine lining stops developing further. This generally happens when the embryo has genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.
You might get a positive pregnancy test due to implantation but won’t know that the cycle has failed unless you take an ultrasound scan. Doctors can also understand if you need any medical assistance in case of complications after an ultrasound.
A missed miscarriage, missed abortion, or silent miscarriage occurs when you have a miscarriage, but your body fails to recognize it and expel the uterine tissue. You can’t recognize this issue unless you get an ultrasound.
Ectopic pregnancy is one of the most common complications that arise during both natural and assisted pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterine lining.
This issue occurs mostly in the fallopian tubes. When the embryo is inserted in the uterus, it might bypass the uterus and implant in the fallopian tube. It might cause serious complications like acute pain, severe bleeding, and fallopian tube rupture.
Diagnosing this issue earlier and treating it can avoid all the above complications. So, make sure you take an ultrasound even if your pregnancy result is positive.
How Common is Failed Implantation?
Having a failed IVF cycle can be very depressing, and you might feel hopeless after it. But you don’t have to worry about it because it is completely normal.
According to studies, the percentage of couples with successful IVF implantation during their first cycle is only around 20%. This also depends upon their age, fertility, and other factors.
But this percentage increases as the number of cycles increases. So, doctors suggest couples undergo at least five to six IVF cycles before they can get pregnant.
What Can You Do to Prevent Failed Implantation?
IVF failure is normal. So, instead of getting depressed and losing hope, you can take some preventive measures to avoid the same circumstances during the next cycle. Here are some things you can do to prevent a failed implantation.
1. Understand why the previous implantation failed
This is the first thing you should do after a failed implantation. Understand what went wrong. Discuss with your doctor, analyze and understand what caused implantation failure in the previous cycle, and take measures to prevent them during future cycles.
2. Take adequate rest before you start the next cycle
Your body will be exhausted after all the physical and emotional roller-coaster it went through during the previous cycle. Give it some much-needed rest before you start your next cycle.
You can either rest at home or do relaxing activities like yoga and meditation. Make sure you are physically and emotionally stable for your next cycle.
3. Mind your lifestyle habits
Your unhealthy lifestyle is the number one factor affecting your IVF success. Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol, unhealthy foods, drugs, etc., during the course of your IVF treatments to increase the chances of implantation and pregnancy.
IVF is an effective fertility treatment that can surely help you and your partner become parents. Unless you have some physical restrictions like age, fertility, and other health conditions, IVF can surely help you achieve pregnancy.
Understanding the procedure is the key to achieving a successful implantation during IVF cycles. If IVF does not work for you, you can opt for more advanced fertility treatments like ICSI and IMSI.
Just remember not to lose hope and always hope for the best. Your IVF doctor knows your condition best and will suggest the right treatment method for you.
Generally, women will have their periods within two weeks after a failed embryo transfer. Sometimes, it might take 3–4 weeks. If you had a failed implantation and did not get your period even after 4 weeks of embryo transfer, it is best to consult your doctor.
The eggs need sufficient blood supply to develop in the uterus. If they don’t implant, they don’t get the blood supply and eventually die. They are then expelled from the uterus along with the endometrial tissues during periods.
Just because you failed your first IVF cycle doesn’t mean you can’t try again or that you don’t have other options. Understand what caused IVF failure, rest well, talk with your doctor, and prepare for your next IVF cycle.
If your IVF cycle was successful and you got pregnant, you can confirm it by taking a pregnancy test at home or the hospital. The hCG levels in your body increase during pregnancy. The pregnancy test will measure these hormones to establish whether you are pregnant or not.