Answer from: Sarah Banks
A lot of people find that the most difficult part of a fertility treatment cycle is when it hasn’t worked, when they’ve had a negative result, how they then cope after that. How they then get moving and feel confident and hopeful going back into another cycle. It’s the point where you know that treatment hasn’t worked, so your hope of it working has gone. It’s the point where you have less contact with your clinic. You may have had a lot of contact with your clinic up to this point. Suddenly from that point, I said it’s like going cold turkey from being at the clinic; you have all this support, and suddenly you don’t up until your follow-up appointment. It can be really difficult to cope with that, so there’s some things that I always say to think about after a failed cycle. So first, what will help you recover from this failed cycle?
Think about the things that helped you recover from losses or upsets in the past. What helped you recover? Whether that’s something like journaling, spending time with friends and family, you can talk to and help you see things clearly, whether it’s seeing a counsellor or a therapist. Think about what coping mechanisms you use and what works for you and use some of those things. Remember, it’s okay to grieve for it and know people outside of going through treatment may not fully understand why you’re so upset because it hasn’t worked. Still, I think when you’ve been through it yourself, you understand the hope that you’ve had for that embryo. You do grief, and it’s okay to grieve for it.
You have suffered a loss, so give yourself time and do what you need to do to get through it and use your support networks; rely on them to get you through it. Whoever that is and whatever support works for you, use that network. Once you’ve thought about how you can recover from it and start to think about the next steps, think about what you are pleased that you did during that round. So it might be that you were eating really healthily, you got lots of rest, you did a certain add-on treatment that you felt helped, or you did acupuncture or reflexology. I know sometimes that research maybe doesn’t show the benefits of certain things. Still, if you felt that acupuncture helped you sleep better, it helped you feel more relaxed, then think about what made you feel good and what helped you get through this round. So what helped you feel better through treatment, either physically or emotionally, so that you can replicate the good things if you decide to have another cycle. So just because you did all those things doesn’t mean that that stopped it working; it’s just; unfortunately, the statistics are that it doesn’t work every time. So think about the things that went well that you’d like to replicate, and then think about what we can learn from this cycle. So based on that, what can we do differently next time? Are there any changes we can make? This isn’t about blaming anybody because it’s really important not to blame yourself for it not working. Unfortunately, you can do nothing to control it, so don’t blame yourself or anybody afterwards. It’s just these things can happen, so please make sure you’re not blaming yourself. Use this as what can we learn to make changes from and speak to your consultant, go to your follow-up appointment with lots of questions. It might be that they would look at trying a different medication, you could try a different protocol, you could try a different add-on treatment. We feel better when we think we can do something different because we believe the outcome will be different next time. So have a look and see if there’s anything that you feel you can do differently. After my first cycle, I’d worked after my transfer. I felt like I was really stressed, so I wanted to take time off for my second cycle because I felt that was something I could do differently and take control of. So speak to your fertility clinic about any changes they recommend that could increase your chances, and think about things you’d do next time if you have another cycle. Then it’s really important to think about whether you need to take a break from treatment. It’s very easy to think you want to rush back into the next cycle and start trying again. I was very much the same, but think about how you’re coping and feeling physically and emotionally. Are you in the best state for carrying on? Do you need to take a break before you consider trying again? Are you at a point where you feel you can’t emotionally and physically go through another cycle? Think of what’s right for you, and that’s the most important thing. What do you need to do to cope and what do you want to do next, and is there anything that will help you make that decision?
How to move forward after failed IVF?
How to move forward and start again after you have had an IVF failure?