We understand how hard you have tried to finally get an IVF treatment and reach the embryo transfer stage.
IVF, as a whole, is physically and emotionally draining. The two-week wait between embryo transfer and pregnancy results will be even more stressful.
It is natural for you to expect a positive result. But, sometimes, your IVF cycle might result in failed implantation.
But how do you know if the embryo transfer was successful or not? There are some symptoms that will help you identify your pregnancy results and take necessary actions.
In this article, we’ll see all the symptoms of a failed implantation and its causes so you can avoid them in your next IVF cycle.
4 Main Symptoms of Failed Implantation of Fertilized Egg
Below are some symptoms of failed implantation that you might have to look for after an embryo transfer.
Vaginal bleeding and stomach pain
Your menstrual cycle, accompanied by stomach pain, is one of the most obvious symptoms of failed implantation.
When your embryo fails to implant in the uterine wall, you start getting the same symptoms you get during your periods: cramps, nausea, headache, tender breasts, pain in the lower back, mood swings, etc.
These symptoms appear about 15 days after embryo transfer, followed by menstrual bleeding.
You should be aware not to confuse this bleeding with implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding will be more brownish or blackish and occurs when the embryo implants in the uterus.
On the other hand, the vaginal bleeding you get due to failed implantation will be lighter and last shorter than your regular period. In some cases they don’t have periods even after a month. But this is because of harmonial changes occurs in thier body due to medications.
Note: Vaginal bleeding can also be a symptom of ectopic pregnancy. It is better to consult a Fertility doctor if you feel any abdominal and pelvic pain or, in some cases, shoulder pain.
Negative pregnancy test result
Testing negative in the pregnancy test is a surefire way to know that your IVF cycle was unsuccessful. You should know that some of the symptoms we saw in vaginal bleeding may also result in successful pregnancy.
So, taking a pregnancy test is the best way to determine whether you are pregnant or not.
Pregnancy tests detect the HCG hormone levels that are secreted only when someone is pregnant. This can be done through urine tests (usually when you do the test at home) or blood tests (when you do the test in the hospital.)
Wait for about 2 weeks after embryo transfer to do your pregnancy test. Testing too early might give you negative results.
If you get negative results after 2 weeks of embryo transfer, then it is likely unsuccessful IVF.
Lack of activity during an ultrasound
If you are still unsure, you can visit your fertility doctor and opt to take an ultrasound scan. Some symptoms in ultrasound can also be signs of failed implantation.
A chemical pregnancy occurs when the embryo that has successfully implanted in the uterus stops developing further. This usually occurs within the first five weeks of pregnancy.
This can result in a positive pregnancy test, and you might not even know until you do an ultrasound.
A missed miscarriage, also called silent miscarriage or missed abortion, occurs when you have a miscarriage, but your body doesn’t recognize it and expel the pregnancy tissue in the uterus.
This condition is very rare, and you may not even know it until you do an ultrasound scan. While Facing these types of abortion it is recommended to not to have sex unless you feel that you are normal after the physical stress of abortion.
Ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo starts developing outside the uterus (mostly in the fallopian tubes). This is one of the major risks of IVF pregnancies.
If it is not detected and treated early, it can cause the fallopian tube to rupture. This is a severe condition and may cause acute pain and severe bleeding.
You will still be tested positive in pregnancy tests if you have an ectopic pregnancy. So, take an ultrasound scan if you experience severe abdominal or shoulder pain.
Note: Regardless of what results you get during your pregnancy test, it is always better to take an ultrasound scan to avoid the above complications.
Absence of pregnancy symptoms
Another obvious symptom of failed implantation is the absence of obvious pregnancy symptoms like nausea, abdominal cramping, light bleeding or spotting, missed periods, etc.
It is important to note that all women experience pregnancy differently, and the presence or absence of these symptoms do not affect your pregnancy results.
Causes of Failed Implantation
Implantation failure can be due to various reasons. You can’t save a failed IVF pregnancy. But you can understand why it failed and try to avoid those conditions during your future cycles.
Here are some major causes why your embryo failed to implant in the uterus.
Your hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen, are critical in regulating menstrual cycles and preparing your uterus for implantation. Any imbalances in their levels can disrupt their function and make it less favorable for embryo implantation.
Health conditions such as thyroid disorders, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and hyperprolactinemia can affect hormonal balance and prevent implantation.
Uterine and tubal abnormalities
Your embryo might be in its best state, but if the uterine environment is not good enough to receive and nurture it, it will result in failed implantation.
Certain uterine or tubal factors, like uterine fibroids, scar tissues, adhesions, hydrosalpinges, endometrial polyps, endometriosis, etc., can result in recurrent implantation failure (RIF).
RIF is when a woman experiences at least three IVF failures, even with good-quality embryos.
These abnormalities can prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterus or disrupt the blood flow to the uterus. Either way, they result in failed implantation.
Chromosomal or genetic issues
Chromosomal or genetic abnormalities in the embryo may hinder it from implanting in the uterus. This condition occurs during both IVF and natural pregnancies.
This condition is more common in couples who are above 40 since there is a high chance their egg and sperm have chromosomal issues. It may also occur in couples who already have genetic issues.
Couples can opt for Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) to avoid these circumstances.
Unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol, underweight, obesity, and stress, can affect your chances of successful implantation.
Women who smoke have been found to need twice as many IVF cycles as those who don’t. Fertility doctors usually recommend women quit smoking at least three months before IVF treatments.
Obesity and underweight also negatively impact the implantation rate. Reducing your weight by about 5–10% can improve your implantation success.
Learning the symptoms and the causes of failed implantations can help you overcome them and take the necessary steps to avoid them in future IVF cycles.
You can start by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking your doctor’s support while you navigate your IVF journey.
Know that parenthood is your ultimate goal, and it is definitely worth it to make some minor life changes.
Frequently asked questions
If the eggs don’t implant into the uterine lining, they can’t get sufficient blood for further growth. They stop growing and are expelled from the uterus along with the endometrium. This results in menstrual bleeding in women.
In cases where the embryo doesn’t implant in the uterine lining, menstruation starts 10–14 days after the embryo transfer. You can consult your fertility doctor if this happens and identify what went wrong.
It has been found that the presence of autoimmune disorders and antibodies in the mother’s blood can reject the embryo, causing implantation failure, recurrent miscarriages, delayed fetal growth, and intrauterine fetal demise.
The days following an embryo transfer are very important. It will be better to take a few days off work to rest in bed. It may take a few days for an embryo to successfully implant, so taking it easy and having sufficient rest can help with the process.