After failed IVF, it’s normal to have lots of mixed emotions and feel confused about what’s next.
Remember you are not alone and you don’t have to navigate failed IVF on your own.
Here I share some thoughts on how to begin processing IVF failure.

So after failed IVF, what next? When IVF fails it can feel devastating and it can be really important to recognise that.  Emotions can be so turbulent in the days following a negative IVF result.  From anger, frustration or feeling numb to sadness, grief and a huge sense of loss, for what might have been.  IVF failure can be a massive thing to process.

Failed IVF – Remember You Are Not Alone & YOU Haven’t Failed

If you’ve got a negative result after IVF take a minute to remember the IVF has failed. But you have not, and it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do everything you could.  It’s very normal and very human to blame ourselves when things don’t work out.  But there is no blame here, just lots of complexity and many things we still can’t control and don’t fully understand when it comes to fertility & conception.

It’s also worth taking a moment to remember you’re not alone. Around 1 in 6 worldwide face infertility, many of those go on to experience IVF failure. The emotional toll this process takes can be enormous.  In fact, research shows that psychological distress is one of the most significant reasons people choose to discontinue fertility treatment.  And this figure gets bigger with each failed IVF.

What Next After Failed IVF?

So what’s next for you after IVF failure?  It can be really common for people to feel a massive urge to push on with more treatment when IVF has failed. This is something I often see in my work.  Some clients describe how emotionally hard it feels to pause and take a break. Others describe a feeling of wanting to get it all over with.  Clients often reach out to me for coaching support at this stage. We often begin by exploring options and what feels right for them after IVF has failed, because often there is no clear right or wrong answer.

Returning to the Fertility Clinic after IVF Failure

After a failed round of IVF, there is an opportunity to return back to your fertility clinic for a review.  If you’re considering further treatment a review can be an important opportunity to reflect on the previous treatment with your doctor. 

This is a chance to discuss why the IVF failed, whether they recommend another cycle, what other options they might consider next time & what they would perhaps do differently. This is also an opportunity to explore what they would recommend by way of further tests and treatments.  It’s good to make a list of questions before you go and take time to have those fully addressed.  Don’t be rushed through, this is your time and it’s really important to be heard.

You may also take this time to consider moving to a different clinic.

The Superpower of Self Compassion After IVF Has Failed

In my work as a Fertility Coach, I can’t emphasis enough the importance of self-compassion if you’ve experienced IVF failure.  You have been through an exhausting and often pretty brutal process, and whether or not you are considering more treatment or not, it’s likely you’ll be in need of some healing and nurturing.

Self-Compassion after IVF Failure

So what is self-compassion? Put simply, self-compassion involves treating ourself as we would a friend, being kinder and more caring to ourselves and taking time to remember we are intrinsically deserving of care and concern just like everybody else.

Other elements of self-compassion include being more mindful and validating our feelings.  This isn’t a deep immersion but simply acknowledging how hard this is, and if we are able to, creating some space for our feelings.

The final part of self-compassion is understanding our situation in the context of a bigger picture, where we are not alone in our suffering, but part of a much bigger human experience.  Taking time to consider that there are many, many people like us, going through something very similar to us, and struggling in a very similar way to us, can be a powerful way to bring connection and support.

The Science Behind Self-Compassion After IVF Failure

Anyone who’s worked with me will be no stranger to self-compassion, and there’s good reason for that.  To the uninitiated it might sound self-indulgent or weak.  However according to Dr Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research & Education, scientific data shows that self-criticism can be really unhelpful for us, whereas when we are more understanding and gentler with ourselves we become stronger and more resilient over time. 

Dr Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the study of self-compassion, also observes that people who are more self-compassionate experience less depression, anxiety, stress & shame, and more happiness, self-confidence and physical health. And as one who knows, these findings certainly ring true for my own lived experience.

Paul Gilbert, creator of compassion-focused therapy, helps us understand the science behind why self-compassion can be so helpful.  He explains that when we become caught up in self-criticism we’re tapping into our body’s threat-defence system, our fight, flight freeze response. This can increase our feelings of stress.  In contrast, when we activate our care system we release oxytocin and endorphins which reduce stress and increase feelings of safety and security.

How to Gently Introduce Some Self-Compassion after IVF Has Failed

So here are some small, gentle ways to begin introducing more self-compassion into your own life:

  • Self-kindness

Spend a few moments considering how can I best take care of myself?  What would I say to a dear friend in my situation?

  • Comfort For Your Body

Take time to rest, perhaps do some self-massage of your neck, arms or hands or take a walk in nature

  • Support

Find connection by talking to someone you trust, be that a friend, family member or professional who can support you.

  • Self-Compassion Mantra

Find an easy to remember self-compassion phrase that you feel you can connect with and bring it to mind when you need to.

So if you have experienced failed IVF, take the time and get the support you need to navigate your way through.

I am a Certified Wellbeing Coach, with specialist training in Fertility Coaching for Emotional Wellbeing.  I’m also a certified Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher.  I’ve supported individuals and couples on their journeys through infertility for over 12 years. I offer 1-2-1 coaching support across the world via zoom.  Fertility Coaching with me creates a safe space to work through feelings, reduce stress & anxiety and build techniques to increase feelings of calm, resilience and agency as you move forward. Find out more about coaching with me here.

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