Fertility RoadFertility 360So your embryos didn’t make it to transfer…..now what?

So your embryos didn’t make it to transfer…..now what?

Yep, that really sucks, doesn’t it? Especially after everything you have had to endure over the last few weeks. Why is it always one step forward, two steps back?

You are starting your IVF cycle and are pumped, motivated, excited and feeling really positive.

It is a lot to put your self through, especially if you are doing a full stimulated cycle.

You know the drill by now… pre-cycle scans, followed by daily injections (such an enjoyable experience in itself – wouldn’t you agree?), then more scans, blood tests, more injections and of course, all going well…. the egg pickup. If you’re lucky you will have responded well to the treatment and have lots of happy little follicles growing inside of you. Hopefully every one of those ‘follies’ contains an egg to be collected at the pickup. Of course, chances are, if you have lots of follicles, they won’t all contain an egg – let’s be realistic here. But it’s quality, not quantity remember!

Okay, your egg pickup went well, other than the fact you had to spend the day in hospital, being poked and prodded… and that’s before you even made it into theatre. You have had a big needle stuck into your arm, you are put to sleep, you have a large probe inserted into your vagina with a huge needle attached to it. Your follicles are ‘pierced’ and ‘popped’ one by one and fluid pushed into them, then it’s all sucked out again with the hope that the fluid now contains an egg. Phew, sounds like fun hey – not. But it’s just another day in the life of a fertility patient. So an hour later you’re in recovery, feeling like you’ve just woken from a coma. You’re groggy, your abdomen is swollen and you feel like you have 12 months of period pain at once. But you have 10 perfect little eggs, ready to be fertilised.

The thought of this makes the pain fade away – you know it is all worth it.

The next day you call the fertility clinic, hoping like hell your eggs have fertilised. You’re told that seven out of the 10 are looking good, while three have been discarded. Okay, that’s not a bad result; after all it could be worse. The embryologist wants to try to grow them out to a blastocyst stage (day 5) and then have the transfer, so now you just have to wait. You want to call the clinic every day and check on your ‘babies’, but you don’t want to annoy the specialists or come across as one of those highly strung, over-anxious patients. (let me tell you from personal and professional experience – every patient feels this way!) So you keep yourself busy for the next couple of days trying to keep the thoughts of developing embryos and embryo transfers to the back of your mind… we all know that is impossible though, right?

D-Day, day five! You call the clinic on the day of your planned embryo transfer. You are excited, and rightly so. Today you get to have a potential baby put inside you! This is the day you have been waiting for. It is without a doubt the only ‘highlight’ of your treatment, the one positive, exciting aspect of the entire cycle.

Then your whole world is ripped away from you in just a few words – ”I’m really sorry, none of them made it.”

You are shattered and tell yourself it was all for nothing. You have just put your self through so much… physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and now you have absolutely nothing to show for it! ‘Why me?’ ‘It’s not fair!’ ‘How come everyone else can have a baby and I can’t?’ It’s hard not to let these thoughts take over your mind. It’s natural to feel this way, after all you are only human, not to mention hormonal and highly emotional.

I know it seems so unfair, but unfortunately this happens a lot with patients. It may not make you feel any better, but you are not alone. It can seem like an impossible task, but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward.

Now is the time to remain focussed on your objective. Everyone has their limits and there may come a time when we have to call it quits. I only hope that those of you out there have the strength (and the money) to continue on with your treatment until the day you finally get to realise your dream of becoming a parent.

It is interesting to note that up to 10% of embryos don’t make it to blastocyst stage.

I ask that you keep this in mind: If your embryo didn’t make it to blastocyst, it was never going to make a baby even if it had been transferred at an earlier stage. Personally, (I said personally), I would much prefer to know that my embryo didn’t have the ability to make a baby BEFORE it was transferred, rather than get a negative pregnancy test, bleed or have an early miscarriage.

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Editorial Team
Fertility Road aims to inform and inspire in a way that is direct, honest and empathetic, whilst breaking down the science by being written by top experts from the fertility field.