Here are the most common reasons in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments don’t work, ranging from embryos that didn’t implant to a botched transfer process. As advanced as fertility treatments are, the specialists don’t have all the answers.
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The most common answer to the “Why didn’t IVF work?” is the doctor doesn’t know. Fertility medicine has come a long way, but fertility specialists definitely don’t have all the answers. If you’re trying in vitro fertilization, your doctor is probably helping you determine when you ovulate. If you don’t have an ovulation predictor kit, get the One Step Ovulation (LH) Test Strips. They’ll help narrow down the best time to conceive a baby.
And, here are five reasons you didn’t get pregnant if you tried IVF…
Why In Vitro Fertilization Doesn’t Work
I researched the reasons IVF doesn’t work in response to a reader. She said, “My embryos looked perfect. My uterine lining looks great, and I did everything I was supposed to do to get pregnant, to make this in vitro fertilization work. What went wrong? Why did my IVF fail?”
Of course I don’t know exactly why her in vitro fertilization treatment didn’t work, but here are a few possibilities…
The embryos didn’t implant
“The most common reason for embryos not implanting is that their development stopped prior to reaching the implantation stage,” write Perkins and Meyers-Thompson in Infertility for Dummies. “The older you are, the more likely this is to happen, but the cessation of embryo development is thought to be the most common cause of lack of pregnancy at any age, and in fact, even during natural conception.”
A woman’s age affects her chances of getting pregnant, whether or not infertility treatments are involved.
The embryos started to implant…and then stopped
If the embryos have abnormal chromosomes, they won’t implant. “The only way to tell whether embryos have the right chromosomes is to do preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a procedure in which one cell is removed from the embryo before implantation and its DNA is analyzed for abnormalities,” write these authors.
This is an expensive medical procedure (not surprising, since all infertility and fertility treatments seem to cost a lot of money!). And it may not be worth the cost, since PGD hasn’t been shown to improve overall pregnancy rates.
The embryos were damaged, so the IVF didn’t work
Another reason the in vitro fertilization may have failed is because of damage either during the embryos’ growth in the lab or the transfer to the uterus. “Man-made processes are never going to be as effective as nature intended, and occasionally, a bad batch of medium, which is used to nurture the embryos before transfer, causes the embryo not to grow the way it should.
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There is a problem with your uterus
IVF may not work if the uterine lining wasn’t healthy or ready for the implantation. Fibroids, polyps, or polycystic ovarian syndrome can make getting pregnant more difficult. According to Perkins and Meyers-Thompson, there isn’t any way to test the endometrium or uterine lining during the actual cycle because a biopsy might prevent implantation.
The embryo transfer process went poorly
If there is bleeding or cramping (or both) during the in vitro fertilization procedure, the chances of getting pregnant are decreased. If the uterus cramps, the embryos might be moved to a spot where they can’t or are less likely to implant…and the IVF will fail.
“Fertility is a numbers game, under the best of circumstances,” write the authors in Infertility For Dummies. “If doctors knew exactly why it all worked or didn’t work, they would save you and themselves a lot of time and make a lot more money, Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t have all the answers, for anything…including fertility.”
If you want to try conceiving naturally (without fertility treatments), read 13 Tips for Getting Pregnant Without Fertility Drugs.
New research says a woman’s weight may be why IVF didn’t work
A new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) shows that obese women may need a different dose of medication than normal weight women in order to successfully have their eggs harvested for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used to help women become pregnant. More than 1 percent of all infants born in the United States each year are conceived using assisted reproductive technology, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IVF involves mixing sperm with an egg outside the body and then transferring the resulting embryo into the uterus. The goal is to harvest many eggs to ensure a successful IVF cycle.
As part of the egg harvesting process, women receive a medication called a GnRH antagonist to prevent the brain from giving the ovulation signal too early and ruining the egg harvest. “If the GnRH antagonist clears from a woman’s body too quickly, there is a risk that the brain will signal the body to discharge the eggs from the ovaries too early,” said one of the study’s authors, Nanette Santoro, MD, of the University of Colorado at Denver. “We were surprised to find obese women were more likely to experience this, and it may be one reason why overweight and obese women have a higher rate of unsuccessful IVF cycles than normal weight women do.”
The interventional study examined the rate of medication absorption in 10 obese and 10 normal-weight women. Researchers gave each participant a dose of a GnRH antagonist used in IVF procedures. To determine how quickly the medication was absorbed, the participants had their blood frequently sampled for six hours, beginning eight hours after the medication was first administered. The study found the GnRH antagonist cleared out of the obese women’s systems more quickly than the normal-weight women. In addition, half of the obese women had a rebound of luteinizing hormone – the hormone that causes the body to release eggs – during the 14-hour monitoring period.
“Our findings indicate obese women may need a different or increased dosing regimen to improve fertility treatment outcomes,” Santoro said. “Given the cost of IVF and stress of infertility, it is important to maximize each woman’s chances of conceiving a child.”
If you’re anxious or scared of the IVF process, read How Fear of Infertility Treatments Affects Getting Pregnant.
Do you have any thoughts about why vitro fertilization doesn’t always work? Please comment below. I can’t offer medical advice or reasons why your IVF failed to result in pregnancy, but sometimes it helps to share your thoughts.