5 Reasons In Vitro Fertilization Fails to Result in Pregnancy

Here are the most common reasons in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments don’t work, ranging from embryos that didn’t implant to a botched transfer process.

As advanced as fertility treatments are, the specialists don’t have all the answers…

“My embryos looked perfect. My uterine lining looks great, and I did everything I was supposed to do to get pregnant, to make this in vitro fertilization work. What went wrong? Why did my IVF fail?”

Those are thoughts and questions many women struggle with, and the most common answer is, “The doctor doesn’t know.” Fertility medicine has come a long way, but infertility specialists definitely don’t have all the answers.

If you’re trying in vitro fertilization, your doctor is probably helping you determine when you ovulate. If you don’t have an ovulation predictor kit, get the babi One Step Ovulation (LH) Test Strips. They’ll help narrow down the best time to conceive a baby.

And, here are five reasons you didn’t get pregnant if you tried IVF…

Why In Vitro Fertilization Doesn’t Work

The embryos didn’t implant

“The most common reason for embryos not implanting is that their development stopped prior to reaching the implantation stage,” write Perkins and Meyers-Thompson in Infertility for Dummies. “The older you are, the more likely this is to happen, but the cessation of embryo development is thought to be the most common cause of lack of pregnancy at any age, and in fact, even during natural conception.”

A woman’s age affects her chances of getting pregnant, whether or not infertility treatments are involved.

The embryos started to implant…and then stopped

If the embryos have abnormal chromosomes, they won’t implant. “The only way to tell whether embryos have the right chromosomes is to do preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a procedure in which one cell is removed from the embryo before implantation and its DNA is analyzed for abnormalities,” write these authors.

This is an expensive medical procedure (not surprising, since all infertility and fertility treatments seem to cost a lot of money!). And it may not be worth the cost, since PGD hasn’t been shown to improve overall pregnancy rates.

The embryos were damaged, so the IVF didn’t work

Another reason the in vitro fertilization may have failed is because of damage either during the embryos’ growth in the lab or the transfer to the uterus. “Man-made processes are never going to be as effective as nature intended, and occasionally, a bad batch of medium, which is used to nurture the embryos before transfer, causes the embryo not to grow the way it should.

There is a problem with your uterus

IVF may not work if the uterine lining wasn’t healthy or ready for the implantation. Fibroids, polyps, or polycystic ovarian syndrome can make getting pregnant more difficult. According to Perkins and Meyers-Thompson, there isn’t any way to test the endometrium or uterine lining during the actual cycle because a biopsy might prevent implantation.

The embryo transfer process went poorly

If there is bleeding or cramping (or both) during the in vitro fertilization procedure, the chances of getting pregnant are decreased. If the uterus cramps, the embryos might be moved to a spot where they can’t or are less likely to implant…and the IVF will fail.

“Fertility is a numbers game, under the best of circumstances,” write the authors in Infertility For Dummies. “If doctors knew exactly why it all worked or didn’t work, they would save you and themselves a lot of time and make a lot more money, Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t have all the answers, for anything…including fertility.”

If you’re anxious or scared of the IVF process, read How Fear of Infertility Treatments Affects Getting Pregnant.


laurie blowing kiss

I'm glad you're here and welcome all your comments, but I can't give advice.
Peace and blessings,
Laurie

Do you have any thoughts about why vitro fertilization doesn’t always work? Please comment below…

In Vitro Fertilization Fails

There are many reasons IVF fails, and sometimes you may never know for sure why yours didn’t work.

 

Are you trying to get pregnant? Get the Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test - it'll help you conceive quickly and naturally.

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  1. Laurie says:

    Dear Kris,

    Thank you for being here. I know your thoughts and words will be read by other women who can relate. One of the most difficult things about infertility is the feeling of being alone when everyone in the world has babies.

  2. Laurie says:

    Thank you for being here, Hopeful. One of the reasons I hesitated to try in vitro fertilization was because it is so difficult and disappointing when it doesn’t work. I’m glad you’re still hopeful, and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Remember that it DOES happen for many women! And when it does, they are the happiest women on earth.

  3. Kris says:

    Two days ago I received my third negative pregnancy test call from my fertility doctor….three transfers….a total of 6 embryo’s…most day 5′s. This last cycle we did PGD testing because the two previous unsuccessful implantations were unexplained. The single embryo we transferred was 99.9% competent. And it was “pretty” in terms of cell development, etc. My lining was perfect. I even requested a blood draw to confirm my levels were good….which they were. We have two embryo’s left and if you asked me today….I’m not sure I would tell you I will transfer them. I’m 39. We’ve only been at this for 3 years…but it’s been the longest three years of my life. We tried the natural way, did 3 rounds of clomid. Hysterosalpingogram(sp), laparoscopy & hysteroscopy to repair a septum in my uterus & discovered and removed massive endometriosis. Thought we’d cured the problem and wasted $3000 on an injectable cycle the old fashioned way. And now two IVF cycles in two years. It’s been awful. The hardest, most humiliating and lonely three years. I can relate to the other poster who never has sex with her husband…the romance of it has gone. My body is destroyed – a fate I happily took on, but realizing thus far it’s been for not is very difficult. My husband and I so badly want to be parents. We want to carry on his family name and watch our children grow in our small farm town. We want to know if our daughter would be as beautiful as our nieces or our son will be as smart as our nephew. We wanted to do all the things our parents & friends did wrong with their kids right. Instead, we’ve hocked the car, the house and a lot of our savings….for what? Maybe it was the hope that Laurie talks about. Today, I feel like it was for nothing. I wish this horrible sadness on no one. And I wish the very best luck to anyone in this journey. I wish it wasn’t such a secret society. I wish someone would come up with a line of Hallmark cards JUST for women like me on Mother’s Day. I wish no one would ever invite me to another baby shower. Of course, mostly I wish for a child. I know we will likely transfer the last of our embryo’s but no matter the result, it will be our last attempt. My husband and I have a very strong bond that has definitely been tested, but I know if it doesn’t work out for us that we will know we gave it everything we could. We will live a good life no matter what….it will always have a little something missing, but it will be good. In re-reading my post, I find that I’m all over the place, but I suppose that’s the point. If just one other woman reads my post and thinks “that is SO me!” Then I am okay with it. Again….best of luck to anyone on this journey.

  4. Still a little hopeful, but disillusioned says:

    Hope is a powerful emotion, wish, desire. I entered 2014 drained from the emotional and costly disappointing ivf procedure(s) undertaken during 2013. That’s right, I said procedure(s) as in 2 ivf cycles attempted both resulting in negative implantations. Two years ago, I was informed to possible consider IVF. The costly ordeal, the fear of the unknown, and believing I could do it on my own or with IUI prevented me from going for it. Fast forward 2 years with no pregnancy, acknowledgement of being 2 years older and quickly approaching 40, cemented my decision to try IVF. The 1st time was unsuccessful, but I experienced hope. Do you know that to a infertile woman, hope is worth the thousands of dollars? That hope is worth the invasive procedures? That hope is worth the injections, the time, the rearranging of work & activities for doctor visits? And when it was over, along with disappointment, sadness, guilt, anger, losing hope was shattering…Therefore, a couple of months of later, after having become to so close to possibly becoming a mother, I borrowed money from family, drained our savings, got us more into debt, to try a 2nd attempt. Hope. It’s what kept me going. It’s what kept me from losing my mind with the drugs, feelings of inferiority, and inability to reproduce. I wanted to become pregnant, but that opportunity was naturally taken from me from mother nature. The 2nd attempt also failed. Both times, neither gametes implemented. Hope. Worth the effort in my eyes. I enter 2014 paying back what I borrowed from beautiful family members, and creditors allowed. To me it was worth it…hope..without it, I feel disillusioned, but move forward anyways. Maybe someday I might try again one more time. It is hard to endure mother nature’s cruelest decision. I yearn to carry my baby in my womb, to see my husband’s and my genetic combination, to raise a little one in our loving home surrounded by cousins, grandparents, and family awaiting him/her.

  5. Laurie says:

    Dear Louise,

    I’m sorry about your ectopic pregnancy, and the removal of your Fallopian tube. It’s heartbreaking and stressful! Surgeries like that aren’t just difficult to undergo, they have huge effects on the rest of our lives (such as getting pregnant in the future, as you know).

    This wasn’t something you did to yourself; it’s just something that happened to your body. IVF and other fertility procedures aren’t easy or fun, but they can give you the outcome you want: a happy, healthy baby!

    Please take a deep breath. You’ve probably had time to get some sleep, and get used to the idea of in vitro fertilization treatments. I hope you’re feeling more comfortable with the idea, and that you feel better about what the future holds.

    Take it one day at a time, my friend. Let your body and spirit heal, and know that you ARE moving in the right direction. You and your husband will end up exactly where you’re supposed to be – you just need to keep taking deep cleansing breaths, and take it one hour at a time.

    I hope this helps, and hope you let us know how you’re doing.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  6. Louise says:

    Reading these comments has had me in floods of tears. Just over three weeks ago I suffered an ectopic pregnancy and had to have my right Fallopian tube removed. After the surgery I was told I will need to have my left tube removed also as it too is damaged. The cause… No one knows. That only makes it worse. I feel so guilty as I feel I’ve caused this myself. Damage to the Fallopian tubes is usually done through an infection. I’m 29 yrs old and have been with my husband from the age of 17. I’ve never slept around like others I know. Apparently the good news is that my ovaries and womb look fine so my consultant has said once they remove my left tube I should (fingers crossed) be able to try IVF. But I’m so scared. I’m scared of waking up from the next operation to be told more bad news. And the whole ivf process seems so overwhelming. My friends and family seem to think conceiving a baby through IVF is as easy as buying a loaf of bread. My doctor has offered me counselling which I feel I’m going to need. Obviously because it’s 2:30am here in England, I can sleep and I’ve rambled on on your very informative blog. Sorry.

  7. Laurie says:

    Dear Neelu,

    According to WebMD, a laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs . Laparoscopy is used to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids , and infection. Tissue samples can be taken for biopsy through the tube (laparoscope).

    In many cases laparoscopy can be done instead of laparotomy surgery that uses a larger incision in the belly. Laparoscopy can be less stressful and may have less problems and lower costs than laparotomy for minor surgeries. It can often be done without needing to stay overnight in the hospital.

    This procedure might help your doctor figure out why the IVFs didn’t work, which may help you get pregnant in the future!

  8. neelu says:

    I had 5 IVF cycles with 8 times embryo transfers totally 12 embryos were implanted. but all the time result was negative. my uterus, embryo quality is very good always but still didn’t get success. now Dr. said that might be there is infections in fallopian tube. so they will be going to do laparascopy to check infection in fallopian tubes. i am confused about this laparoscopy. can any one give me advise please??

  9. Laurie says:

    Thank you, honeydew, for sharing your experience with in vitro fertilization.

    Since I have not experienced ridicule or any negative feedback from my friends and family, I did not realize how devastating it can be. I admire and respect you for your positive and encouraging attitude, and for building yourself up despite your feelings of loss and disappointment.

    May God bless you in other ways, if He does not give you a child. I feel He has blessed me in other ways – if I focus on the good things in my life!

    Sincerely,
    Laurie

  10. honeydew says:

    I have been thru 3 failed ivfs first time I had 3 embryos transferred, it failed. 2nd time, day 3 transfer with 3 grade A embryos. another failure. 3rd time day five transfer with 2 blasts. still failed. I felt devastated and thought I had come to the end of life. being an African, a woman not able to have children has to endure a lot of ridicule. my husband and family have been very supportive and I am healing from the loss. but I am not giving up. Just want to concentrate on building up myself, physically and with God I know its not over for us. Ladies out there going thru the same thing, just hang in there. shake up and move on. many many hugs

  11. Laurie says:

    Dear Susan,

    I’m happy that the old fashioned way worked for you! And I’m glad you commented, because it’s important for women to see that even if in vitro fertilization didn’t work, there is still hope for getting pregnant other ways.

    And, adoption is a loving, compassionate, wonderful way to have a family. There are so many kids who need to be loved…maybe instead of spending all that time, effort, energy, and health on IVF, couples could consider adopting…I know not everyone wants to adopt, but it’s worth at least thinking about.

  12. Susan says:

    PGD IVF failed me twice. As with all the comments above there was nothing I could do to change the results. Now I can’t relate to many because I was blessed with having 2 beautiful boys the old fashioned way – after successive miscarriages (with no obvious medical reasons) and one of the failed PDGs. I just had my second PGD IVF failure with the 2 remaining day 5 blasts. I’m finished. But I wouldn’t be finished if I was childless – I really wanted a family!

    Know the infertility route is not your only way. Adoption works – I know people with very complete and loving families because they opted for adoption – either because IVF failed them or they simply thought their advanced age wouldn’t produce results with IVF so they didn’t even go there.

    If you opt to adopt you’re not admitting to failure – you’re opening your heart and horizons to other avenues and if in the end you have a complete and loving family – isn’t it worth looking into? By the way there are many possibilities for domestic adoption today..

    Just remember IVF fails many wonderful competent women and men – don’t let it eat you up and suck out everything you and your partner have – if you need to create a family – please consider all your options – there are children out there right now who would love to have you as a mother!

  13. Lada says:

    Dear Melanie Elliott,

    I’m sorry to hear about yours and your husband’s struggles. However, I believe that the extreme stress and the pressure your husband has been put upon himself has caused the issue. I believe it can be corrected with the help of therapy and the alternative medicine to bring his adrenal health back into balance. I’ve seen it work for different issues and I’m a big believer. The main thing is finding a good recommended acupuncturist/naturopath as well as the therapist for your husband and start the recovery process. One other suggestion, have you husband try taking DIM supplements. They help to bring estrogen/testesterone hormones into balance. Do your own research on it.
    I sincerely wish you all the best!

  14. Laurie says:

    Dear Mineli,

    I’m really sorry that your IVF failed yet again. You tried so hard to get pregnant with all those attempts at in vitro fertilization, and then you get disappointed over and over. It’s heartbreaking, and exhausting both physically and emotionally.

    My heart breaks for you. I wish IVF would have worked, and I’m sorry it didn’t. I hope you will heal, and be able to feel sincere joy and peace in your life.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  15. minelli says:

    I’ve been married for 13yrs.(1999) Ever since we got married we have been trying to conceive. at the age of 29yrs was my very first IVF. because i was in the twenties doctor said we have a good chance even with me having endometriosis. that ivf was a failed ivf. we were crushed. then 1 yr later we did another ivf and again it failed. 6months later tried again and of course another failed ivf. my doctor simple just told me that we were just not lucky. we stop trying and hoping for a miracle.for ten yrs nothing happen that hope is not happening. instead every month my pain during my cycle is getting worst. until i did my 5th surgery and my doctor told me to consider hysterectomy. of course i said no hoping for miracle.with my pain every month i almost want to do what the doctor suggest. so this month sept 2012. we decide to do one more IVF. research and went to the best clinic in NYC. today result came out and it was negative 4 FAILED IVF. really losing that hope. always wondering what is really wrong. why its always a failed ivf what can be done to make a success procedure. i need to talk to doctor for once and for all cuz im really will do hysterectomy. i think i have to accept the part that we will never be a parent.

  16. Serena says:

    I’ve been married for 10 yrs now..and “infertility” and “conceiving” have been the buzz words in my life. i hv gone in for IVF just once which failed and have decided never to go that way again. It was the most painful experience..physically, emotionally and spiritually too. I was too cut off from my family, my husband and even my God for that matter. I hated the sight of people, children even my own spouse cause everything reminded me of my failure, my inadequacy to be a normal child-bearing woman. Also it was heart-breaking to see the disappointment in the eyes of my entire family and those i loved. though later i realised tht they were hurting to see me in pain. But at that moment it was just too much for me. Its been 2 yrs since and i hv pretty much got over it. i think at such times, the family can help by just being there, not trying to over-analyse what happened or draw too much attention to it, just trying to divert attention to other family activities and just living as if nothing changed. Ofcourse prayers by family go a long way in setting the emotions and spirituality right.

  17. Carmen says:

    To all the women on this site: Forgive yourself. It helps.

  18. Laurie says:

    Dear Melanie,

    I’m sorry your in vitro fertilization didn’t work – it must be so frustrating and disheartening! But as you said, you’re ready to move on…and that’s very healthy of you. It’s important to mourn and grieve the fact that your IVF failed and you may never have kids. And then it’s equally important to realize and cherish the parts of your life that you feel grateful for.

    I wrote this article for you, to help you cope with your husband’s feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and loss:

    We Never Have Sex – How Do We Increase Physical Intimacy in Marriage?

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  19. Melanie Elliott says:

    My name is Melanie, I had two rounds of IVF. My embryos didn’t implant. I was completely broken. To this day I can’t believe that I’m not able to have a baby of my own. It’s like a reality that I can’t believe believe is my own. I’ve always been the care taker with my friends, always wanting to “take care” of them.

    It’s been 2 years since our second set of embryos didn’t implant….and it was also the last time my husband and I had sex.

    After a lot of grieving and feeling broken for a long time, I have eventually excepted the loss of our (5) embryos and have went on with life. Now that I’m ready for life to go “go back to normal”
    and have woken up from the hibernation loss…. There is still a problem…. My husband never feels “in the mood” Viagra wouldn’t work, not as if he would ever go to the DR and ask for them (he’s 37) but they don’t make a person “horny” Now I know what everyone must think, he’s cheating…. no the man is home every night, very loving, we became closer with not being able to get pregnant.
    But it cause my husband to have well… Erectile Dysfunction. My husband is an over achiever, and for the first time in his life, he feels like he failed at something he set out to do….Now his manhood is broken. He feels responsible.

    We talk about it and he feels very guilty and he gets upset that he can’t be a “complete” husband for me. He says he is just not in the mood and he’s gets stressed out about not being able to “get in the mood”. Every part of our relationship is strong and solid. But instead of having a family, IVF gave us a sexless marriage.

    Any thoughts?……Anyone?……

    Frustrated
    Melanie

  20. deepal (india) says:

    I have gone through 2nd ICSI technique and went fail for twice. First time doctor transfered only one embryo 3 day (8 cell garade-1 embryo) and 2nd time doctor transfered two embryos (4 cell grade-1 and 3 cell geade-1). I want to know that despite taking proper rest and also taking treatment of ICSI with good doctor why I did not conceived.

  21. Smallwonder says:

    Your daughter is very lucky to have such supportive parents. I hope that things have improved since you posted this in October.

  22. Dear Pam,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with IVF. I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you – six times! I couldn’t stand the thought of trying in vitro fertilization once, much less six times.

    I don’t see our infertility as a curse. For us, it’s just a major disappointment. It’s like getting cancer or another other chronic disease: it’s painful and sad and regrettable and I wish with all my heart it wasn’t our burden to bear…but it is what it is.

    For me, it’s also like not having a dad growing up. I didn’t meet him until I was 27 years old, and I always wished I had a dad. I envied my friends who had dads, who weren’t raised by poor struggling single mothers. But some things are just mine to deal with, you know? We all have crap we have to struggle with…and I guess being infertile is just another painful experience that some of us have to go through.

    Also, I know that different women experience infertility in different ways. Some can shrug it off and go on their merry way, while others are completely destroyed.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  23. Dear Gen,

    I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s in vitro fertilization procedures. That’s SO devastating, especially when everything seemed so positive.

    I guess the miracle of getting pregnant is STILL a miracle, even when all the scientific data and signs point to a successful pregnancy. When I was seeing fertility doctors, they all said that they don’t understand how it all works. They obviously understand how women get pregnant, and even how to do IVF successfully, but they often don’t know exactly why it doesn’t work.

    It must be even worse for you, as a mother. You’re seeing your daughter go through the pain of not conceiving, and not getting to see her dreams come true. That must be very difficult for you.

    My mother-in-law has a friend whose daughter can’t conceive, and the friend doesn’t have any grandchildren at all. She never will, now that her daughter can’t get pregnant. My mother-in-law has a special sympathy for mothers who will never be grandmothers. I don’t know if you’re one of those women, but I do know it’s an additional source of pain.

    Anyway, I wrote this article for you:

    How to Help a Woman Cope With IVF Fertility Treatments

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts there or here.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  24. Pam says:

    All I can say after suffering repeated (6) IVF failures and having NO family support is that it is encouraging to me to see the love you have for your daughter. There is nothing you can say, but you can be there for her and give her hugs. She’ll need them and will feel very alone in this. Infertility has been the hardest, most painful experience of my life. It will never go away, and I have yet to see my life feel better…it is a dreadful, evil curse and my husband and I resent our bodies for letting us down. I wish her and her partner well and hope things will turn around for them.

  25. Gen Monteforte says:

    This is my 30 yr old daughters 2nd IVF procedure. The first one they called successful, even tho the embryo died not long after seeing the heart beat. the second, didn’t work at all. My son in law is fine, and my daughter has problem with her eggs maturing. This time they used a procedure to help the embryo’s hatch. We were all thrilled, her uterine lining was perfect, all her hormones were perfect, and her embryo’s they said were “GRADE A” they implanted 2, and nothing..a negative pregnancy test..why does this happen, when everything is supposed to be perfect? Needless to say I have a devastated daughter, and she has a very sad mom and dad, we don’t know what to say or do for our daughter.

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