Why in vitro fertilization (IVF) fails?

Why in vitro fertilization (IVF) fails?

At present IVF no doubt has proven to be successful, as due to this fertility treatment hundreds of thousands of children are born yearly world over. It reinstates hope, optimism and patience in an infertile couple who are facing challenges conceiving, hopping doctors and fertility experts to know the root cause of infertility. IVF provides a sense of security because they know they have a last resort which they can bank upon!

But at times the dream of becoming a parent through this treatment might not always work. IVF might not be successful in the first try and demand several cycles. Many couples might have to go through more than one cycle. And you have to take it with the pinch of a salt that this technique is an expensive one and you can be subjected to emotional and financial stress.

IVF failure / Implantation failure refers to infertile patients who have been gone through many IVF cycle and producing embryos, but the embryo consistently failed to implant for unexplained reason. Therefore in cases where IVF fails it becomes very disappointing and difficult for the couple to comprehend the reason why it failed.

Reasons for failure of IVF

Implantation or IVF failure can be due to reasons which include problem with embryos, Problem with the uterus, Problem in the communication between the embryo and uterus. Often the reason can be attributed to poor quality of the egg, sperm and embryo, less number of embryos available for transfer, High estradiol levels, endometrial lining is poor, difficult embryo transfer and too high or too low placement of embryos during embryo transfer.

Highlighted below are four common contributing factors to IVF failure:

Patient’s Age

It is a known fact that success rate of pregnancy declines with age, especially if over 35. The decline in fertility progresses through late 30’s till mid 40’s when the chance has gone as low as 1% every cycle.  A female is born with a certain number of eggs, as you become older, eggs from these reserve gets used up. Hence the chances and possibility of a live birth after IVF is more if you are young and below 35. Recent studies illustrate that the chances of a live birth after IVF for a woman within the age bracket 35 is approximately 32 percent, while only 16 percent for woman who are 40.  But certainly, this is not an assurance that it will happen in every such case as it is individual also.

Embryo Quality

IVF failure also depends on the quality of the embryo as few poor quality embryos have genetic or chromosomal defects that make it weak to sustain through the IVF procedure. While some embryos lack enough cells to survive and therefore stand lesser chances of fertilizing. Hence quite a few reasons can hamper embryo quality leading to IVF failure.

Ovarian Response

Chances of pregnancy via IVF are enhanced when one responds well to IVF stimulations, thereby producing more eggs on medication. At times the patient’s ovaries do not reciprocate well to IVF medications that stimulate ovaries to produce multiple eggs to escalate the chances of pregnancy. If one has reduced number of eggs, or if one is over 37 years of age, or with increased FSH levels, it may be tougher for the body to respond well to the IVF medications.

Implantation Issues

One of the most common reasons for IVF failure is implantation issues. Often the implantation issue happens merely because embryo stops developing.  In case the ovaries have polyps or cysts, this can further contribute to implantation issues. Also few researches indicate that chromosomal abnormalities which can cause issues with implantation in embryos are there in up to 50% of cases.

One should keep in mind that just because you have faced a failed IVF attempt does not mean that the chance of your pregnancy is nil or you are destined not to be a parent. In fact you need to reassess and ensure that you are satisfied with your fertility expert, clinic and the services you are getting before going in for the next cycle. Also the fertility expert needs to explicitly define what went wrong with the IVF to the patient and how they can counter the risk in the second attempt. So stay optimistic, put you foot forward for the next chance.