"Your test was negative" is disheartening to hear after undergoing the rigors of an in-vitro fertilization cycle, and may leave you wondering whether it's worth another expensive and emotionally wrenching attempt. On the other hand, perhaps you've heard stories of couples who got pregnant without intervention after a failed IVF cycle. Fertility after an IVF cycle can be a tricky issue, one without a one-size-fits-all answer. Talk to your doctor after a failed cycle to determine your next step.
In many cases, you can start trying to get pregnant—either with or without medical intervention—on your next menstrual cycle. Undergoing another IVF cycle the month after a failed one will not decrease the number of eggs you are able to retrieve, says a February 2004 article in "Human Reproduction." However, waiting through one cycle gives you time to review with your physician and make any necessary changes for the next one.
Odds After One Failed Cycle
Having one failed IVF cycle generally doesn't decrease your chances of getting pregnant on your next IVF cycle. In some cases, it might mean you have a better chance of pregnancy, since you now have some baseline information on how well you stimulate, the quality of embryos you produce and any other identifiable factors. Statistics published in 2011 by the University of New South Wales Australia found that the odds of a successful IVF pregnancy were 21 percent after one cycle, 31 percent after after two cycles, 36 percent if you completed three cycles, 38 percent after four IVF cycles, and 40 percent for women who completed five cycles. After five unsuccessful IVF cycles, the chance of pregnancy rose by less than 1 percent.
Getting Pregnant Spontaneously
Undergoing IVF doesn't necessarily mean you're infertile and can't get pregnant without assisted reproductive technology. You may be less fertile than the average couple, but in many cases, spontaneous pregnancy is still a possibility. An article published in the July 2012 issue of "Fertility and Sterility," presented follow-up information from 2,134 couples seven to nine years after their initial IVF cycle. The results revealed that 24 percent of couples who had not gotten pregnant with medical intervention eventually conceived spontaneously after treatment. Of couples who achieved pregnancy using medical intervention, 17 percent spontaneously got pregnant again without medical intervention.
A Dutch study presented at the 2008 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference found that lifestyle choices had an impact on whether a woman conceived spontaneously after a failed IVF cycle. Smoking as little as two cigarettes per day decreased spontaneous pregnancy chances by 44 percent, while drinking four or more cups of coffee of other caffeinated drink reduced pregnancy odds by 26 percent. Drinking alcohol more than once a week reduced success by 26 percent, while being significantly overweight decreased the chances of spontaneous pregnancy by 29 percent. Review lifestyle changes with your physician to see if changes for your or your partner could increase your odds.
Image via Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images