Elias Tsakos, FRCOG
Medical Director , Embryoclinic
Emotions and Support, Failed IVF Cycles, IVF Abroad
In my opinion, there are two ways forward. The first is to get stronger, and the other is to stay on the ground. You need to reflect on the previous attempt, you can always go back to have what we call the post-failure counselling and see if you could identify any reasons why this has failed, was anything in the treatment that went wrong, was there anything in terms of the decisions you were invited to participate, for example, whether you had embryo day-3 or day-5 transfers.The next thing you need to remember about is to empower yourself. What can you do to empower yourself? Anything that touches upon your emotions, your body, your spirit, your relationship, I’ll put upon your decisiveness. You can be supported by your coordinator, midwife, or your doctor. Don’t hesitate to seek help somewhere else, for example, a friendly acupuncturist, a psychologist, a dietitian or a coach, anything that would empower you, and/or your partner. Try to seek information after a failed attempt. If you’ve done the first attempt, the second attempt is always easier. It’s important to crystallize some basic information about IVF success, your fertility, and your case. There are hundreds of resources, it’s very easy to get an online consultation, so don’t hesitate, perhaps you can get a second opinion. The more informed you are, the more empowered you are and the stronger you are to take the next step. The number 5 tip is to explore the options. There’s always more than one option, after a failure takes a bit of time to explore different options available not only in your country but also abroad. This is entirely up to you. Another thing is that when you’re going through the IVF process and experience a failure, it’s very easy to go off track by some possibly questionable approaches that may not have scientific evidence, but usually, those sound quite attractive. Remember to stay on track, and if you have decided and it’s been indicated and explained that IVF is a way forward, stay on track and go ahead with that, it’s up to you to choose what kind of IVF you want, and where. If you have any specific questions, it’s up to you to request some answers. Number 7, the definition of success varies for all patients. Some women and some men are determined to become parents with their own genetic material, and despite multiple failures, they continue to pursue it. For example, a 45-year-old woman would not consider egg donation, and this is fine, however, they have to be aware of the odds, and they have to be aware that most likely, they will keep on failing if they try with their own eggs at this age. Equally, with severe male factors or advanced male age, sometimes achieving a pregnancy with its own genetic material may not be that likely. Therefore, define what you consider a success if you define success as parenthood including egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, and so on, or not. Number 8 has been a major issue, find the doctor you trust. If you trust them, let them do what’s best for you. If you don’t trust them, move on, do not torture yourself and your medical team. Take your time and trust your team, if you don’t trust them, move on. Number 9 is hope, it’s easy to lose hope but don’t lose it, don’t give up hope. Fertility treatments evolved over time, nowadays, there is a 35-40% up to 50% success rate depending on the age group, and around 70% success rate if we’re using egg donation on a healthy patient, cumulative success rates with egg donation is around 90 or 95%. The last 10th tip is to fight. Whether you’re just starting or experienced failed attempts, you need to fight if this is what you want most. You need to support each other, use all the previous tips, and keep fighting until you reach your goal.