Another Negative Pregnancy Test
Weeks of appointments, blood work, injections, an egg retrieval, fertilization of an embryo and the transfer only to be disappointed through a negative pregnancy test result. For many couples, this heartbreaking scenario is a reality. However, women don’t have to give up on in vitro fertilization (IVF) after a single failed cycle. Although each scenario is unique, making a plan for when to try again can help many couples appropriately grieve the failure before committing to IVF again.
Emotional recovery first
Although IVF is a medical process, a huge emotional element is also present. The procedure can be time-consuming and stressful, and many patients can feel let down when there is no baby to show for all that effort. Immediately after learning a cycle has failed, patients should take time to recover emotionally. For some women, this may mean crying or venting to a partner about what could have been. For others, a therapist can help offer professional support.
The next period
Official guidance states that after a failed cycle, women should wait until at least the start of the next menstrual period before trying again. For many people, this means at least a 4-week break. The beginning of the menstrual cycle is pivotal since this date is how pregnancy is dated should conception occur. For IVF patients, medications often need to be started early in the cycle for the best chance of success. Although 4 weeks can feel like a long time, this approach is the best way to approach a new IVF cycle for the greatest chances of success.
Age is a factor
Although 4 weeks is the minimum recommended wait time, younger women may be comfortable waiting a few more cycles before trying again. On the other hand, patients over 35, and especially those over 40, will likely want to jump right back into treatment as soon as possible as fertility rapidly declines with age.
A physical break
Sometimes, even when a patient is emotionally ready, a more extended physical break may be needed. This is especially true for women who experience ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) due to fertility medication use. The condition occurs in about 5% of women who undergo IVF treatment, and symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea. Even among women who don’t have OHSS, a longer break from fertility medication is often welcomed.
Many other factors play a role in when to resume fertility treatment. Personal finances, the ability to get time off work to attend appointments, age gaps between siblings, and underlying infertility diagnosis can all affect when a future round of IVF is scheduled. Women should never feel rushed to resume treatment. Male partners can help support women undergoing IVF by ensuring optimal physical and mental health before proceeding with another round.