Experiencing IVF failure is devastating to anyone undergoing fertility treatment. You’ve invested so much emotionally, mentally, and financially into the process, and it may feel like you’ve failed when it doesn’t work! However, failed IVF cycles are common, and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.
Many factors contribute to IVF failure, even when everything appears to be going well. Here are some of the most common reasons IVF fails, even when the embryos look healthy:
Chromosomal abnormalities prevent implantation resulting in IVF failure or early miscarriage. Although your embryos look healthy, they could have abnormal chromosomes. About 60% of embryos have chromosomal abnormalities. Some of these abnormalities get detected before transfer. Others are only discovered after implantation has failed as part of genetic testing of the fetus.
An embryo must have 46 chromosomes to implant and develop properly. Sometimes an error occurs during this process, and an embryo ends up with too many or too few chromosomes. For example, an embryo with chromosomal abnormality has 45 or 47 chromosomes instead of 46. This condition is aneuploidy, one of the leading causes of IVF failure.
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Chromosomal abnormalities occur randomly or as a result of specific genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome. Maternal age also causes chromosomal abnormalities. Women over the age of 35 are more likely to produce eggs with chromosomal abnormalities as the quality of the eggs declines with age.
Implantation issues such as endometriosis or a uterine septum prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterine lining. For an embryo to develop into a baby, it must first attach to the uterus lining. This process is known as implantation and usually happens 6 to 10 days after fertilization.
There are several reasons why implantation fails. These include:
- Thin uterine lining. If the lining is too thin, the embryo fails to attach correctly. The lining of the uterus must be thick and rich in blood vessels for implantation to occur.
- Uterine abnormalities. Abnormalities, such as uterine fibroids, polyps, or a septum, interfere with the embryo’s ability to attach to the uterine wall.
- Endometriosis. Endometriosis creates a hostile environment for implantation. The abnormal growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus causes this condition.
- Immune system problems. If the immune system is not functioning correctly, it attacks and destroys the embryo, preventing implantation from occurring. This is more likely to occur in women who have had multiple miscarriages.
- Poor egg quality. Eggs older or damaged by disease or exposure to certain chemicals are less likely to implant.
- Low progesterone levels. Women with low progesterone levels have difficulty getting pregnant. Progesterone is a hormone that helps prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation.
Uterine Factor Infertility
Uterine factor infertility (UFI) affects the structure or function of the uterus, preventing implantation. Several conditions cause UFI, including endometriosis, fibroids, or scarring from previous surgeries. In some cases, the shape of the uterus makes it difficult for an embryo to implant. If the uterus cannot support a pregnancy, IVF will not be successful.
Smoking, drinking, and drug abuse during IVF treatment lower egg quality and affect implantation. Drugs damage the DNA of the eggs and embryos, making them less likely to survive. It’s essential to avoid smoking and drinking during IVF treatment to increase the chances of success.
Stress also reduces the success of IVF by affecting hormone levels and the immune system. You are more likely to experience implantation failure or miscarry if you’re under a lot of stress.
Advanced Maternal Age
As a woman ages, her eggs become less viable, and the chances of miscarriage and congenital disabilities increase, leading to IVF failure. The success rate of IVF decreases as a woman gets older, particularly after the age of 35. Women over 40 have a lower chance of success with IVF as the quality of eggs declines with age.
Want to Reduce the Chances of IVF Failure?
While several factors contribute to IVF failure, you increase your chances of success by working with a fertility specialist with experience in IVF. Your fertility doctor helps you understand the cause of your infertility and develops the right IVF protocol for your individual needs. You increase your chances of a successful IVF outcome with proper treatment and care.