In vitro fertilization or IVF is a series of procedures to help achieve a successful pregnancy.  The IVF treatment itself starts with ovarian stimulation where you will be prescribed medication so that more than one egg matures at the same time. These mature eggs will then be retrieved and placed together with healthy sperm in a petri dish for fertilization to occur. The resulting viable embryo is then transferred back into the uterus for implantation hopefully leading to pregnancy.  Many couples opt for IVF due to issues with fertility because they haven’t been successful in trying to conceive naturally for more than a year.  Male infertility could be due to abnormal sperm in terms of shape or motility, decreased quantity or no sperm, issues with the male reproductive system or other factors.  Female infertility could be due to decreased egg quality, issues in the fallopian tubes or uterus, hormonal issues or other factors.  By going through an IVF treatment, you could bypass some of these hurdles to help you conceive.  When you are going through your first IVF, you might be very excited about what the future could bring especially if you have been dealing with infertility for a while and yet you might also be anxious about doing everything correctly like the timings of various medications/injections, or what you should and shouldn’t do.  However, if after you have gone through the whole procedure ending with the two week nail biting wait to see if you are pregnant and that first IVF treatment fails, you may be left dejected with many questions about what could have gone wrong and what you should do now.  Sometimes an IVF procedure also gets cancelled if the eggs are of poor quality or if they are not getting fertilized or for some other reason.  You could also have undergone a successful first IVF treatment and you now want to follow up with a second IVF treatment to get a sibling for the first child.  Either way, there are some things you could do to be better prepared for the second IVF treatment.

Talk to your doctor

Have a frank conversation with your doctor about the possible reasons for failure of first IVF treatment.  Some questions that might come up could include: could it be the quality of the egg or sperm, could it be the receptivity of the uterus, was there any genetic issues with the embryo, is it due to any previous health condition, is it due to some medications, or is it due to your lifestyle.  Air out all your concerns to see if anything could be improved for the second IVF cycle. Talk to your doctor about what are the chances of success for the second IVF cycle in your special circumstances.  The doctor might need to tweak the medications or change the medications for the next round of IVF.  The doctor might suggest intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure along with IVF where one sperm is injected directly into the egg for aiding in fertilization. You could find out if there are any new advances in IVF treatment that might increase the chances of a successful conception. Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) involves screening the embryo for any genetic anomalies before implantation into the uterus.  This could reduce the chances of miscarriage.  If the egg or sperm quality is not good, it might also mean looking at egg or sperm donor or looking at surrogacy if you aren’t physically able to carry a baby to term.   Take your time to make the decision that’s best for you and your partner.  It might mean taking a vacation to relax before trying a second IVF cycle.  Do lots of research and ask all your questions you might have.  You could also check to see if the doctor has lots of experience in this field and offers the newest technology and equipment for you to have the best chance for success. If the first IVF treatment was successful, you might want to follow the same protocol to be successful in the second.

Do you have frozen eggs or embryos

Sometimes, if there are many eggs retrieved during the first IVF procedure, you can choose to have the eggs or the resulting embryos cryopreserved or frozen for future use.  This makes it much easier to prepare for a second IVF treatment because you don’t have to go through the whole process of stimulating your ovaries and the egg retrieval process all over again.  Couples should consider this option during the first cycle in preparation for the second.

Do not blame yourself

 Do not blame yourself for what happened or dwell on the “what ifs”. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for why the treatment didn’t work and it could be left unexplained.  Try to accept it for what it is and look ahead positively to the second IVF cycle. 

 Look at your lifestyle

Take a close look at your own and your partner’s lifestyle.  Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and drinking too much caffeine.  Eat healthy food with lots of fruits and vegetables, cut out foods with refined sugars like baked goods and sugary drinks as well as avoid processed and fried foods.  Do moderate exercise and try to lose weight if you are overweight.  Take prenatal supplements like folic acid and various other vitamins as per your doctor’s instructions.  Get enough sleep and try to get rid of stress.  Take care of yourself and learn to relax.  Try yoga or meditation.  Take up a hobby to keep your mind occupied.

Make sure you are emotionally and physically prepared

You might have been a bundle of nerves when going through your first IVF treatment.  But now that you have already gone through one IVF cycle, you might already know what to expect and be more confident about it.  Try to stay calm and be optimistic.  It helps emotionally and mentally if you have someone to confide in, like your partner, a close friend or family member or you could join a therapy group or talk to a professional therapist or counsellor to alleviate your fears and concerns. If you feel your body is still not back to its usual self, take some time off before your next treatment because only you know your own body.  However, if you are older, try to do it sooner rather than later because egg quality decreases with age.

Try not to compare your second IVF treatment with your first

Each treatment is unique and your body might react differently.  So try not to fret over why its not feeling the same as before.  Try not to research too much on the internet about every twinge you feel in your body and why you feel the way you do because some of the online forums might lead you to panic and do more harm than good.  Sometimes you might feel more emotionally vulnerable and cry at the drop of a hat which could be due to the effect of some hormonal changes in your body.  Feel free to cry and vent it out.  Speak to your doctor to answer any queries. In general, its important to take care of yourself if you are going to be carrying a baby.  Make sure you are healthy physically and emotionally and this can improve your success rate for your second IVF treatment.  Stay positive and be optimistic by keeping yourself occupied.  Talk to your doctor about what could be done to improve your chances of success.  The professionals at Zenith Advanced Fertility Centre have a lot of experience in dealing with this and would love to help you achieve your dreams of having a child.  Feel free to ask them any questions you might have.