In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a beacon of hope for many who struggle with infertility. IVF often is talked about as a sure thing, but it doesn't always work, which is something we don't hear about often. The truth is that people can spend all their money and still walk away with no baby, but this is not the story we want to hear. And yet, it is a reality for many people. Treatments do fail and should be discussed.
Many aspects of IVF treatment are not easy and can come at a high cost financially, physically, mentally and emotionally, especially when it fails. It's completely normal to go through and experience many different emotions after a failed IVF. Feeling devastated, sad, confused, angry, numb, and disheartened is very normal. After all, you just invested countless hours, resources, and funds, took time off of work, and placed hopes in the IVF procedure, only for it to result in heartache.
This topic is not discussed often enough, even within the infertility community. Remember that you are not alone and that disappointing outcomes happen. This does not mean there is no hope moving forward. Even though it can be challenging, finding a balance between grieving the past and hoping for the future is possible.
So….How do you move forward after a failed IVF? How do you know what steps to take next or how to navigate all the different emotions? Here are a few suggestions to help you navigate this:
Rest. Give yourself and your body time to breathe, and recoup. Listening to your physical and emotional needs is important to overcoming a failed IVF cycle. This will look different for all of us, and there are no right or wrong ways to support your rest. Go easy on yourself, whether that means scheduling a coffee date with a friend to get encouragement, cancelling plans to take a nap, or planning to do something that fills your cup. Rest is productive, and your body and mind will thank you later.
Seek support. There is always power in community and connecting with those who have walked a similar path as us and who can hold space for our feelings and be a guiding light for us. Consider finding a therapist trained in reproductive psychology, marriage counselling or other emotional support. Find helpful tools to support you, such as our free workbook or mind-body group.
Take time to grieve. Remember that it's okay if you and your partner experience grief differently. You might want to cry, be angry, talk to someone about how you are feeling, express yourself through music or art, spend time in nature, journal, move your body, or confide in a close friend. Take the time to do what you need and deal with the complicated feelings and emotions you are going through.
Prepare for the next steps. Your fertility center will likely ask you to make a follow-up appointment. Make a list of all the questions you want to ask your doctor before this appointment. Being prepared will help you leave the meeting by having more questions answered and more information you need to help you move forward.
Remember that a failed IVF cycle doesn't necessarily mean this journey is over. It is not your fault, and it does not mean there is no hope. Keep moving forward in your way, on your terms and on a timeline that works for you. Make space to rest, seek support, grieve, and talk to your doctor about the next steps.
Valérie Grenier and Jessi Nesbitt founded Moonstone Fertility –a team of Registered Psychologists and Mind-Body Fertility Therapists passionate about helping individuals and couples follow their dreams of creating their own families as well as feel empowered and supported in the process. For more support on your (in)fertility journey, join our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media.