Studies Point To New Culprits In IVF Failure

For couples facing infertility, the road to a family can seem full of dead ends and wrong ways. We understand it can be frustrating to go through the rounds of testing and trying it can take to successfully become pregnant. However, once a couple conceives and brings a bundle of joy into the world, it all becomes worth it. When specific conditions are met, or if other less invasive treatments have been unsuccessful, In Vitro Fertilization is often the next step. In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is a complicated procedure that is often met with success, and one that many couples are turning to to create the family of their dreams. New studies and insights into this procedure are also helping couples and fertility doctors understand the risks and factors that could determine IVF success.

How It Works

IVF is a very common fertility treatment, and is what most people think of when they think about fertility treatments.  After a couple is evaluated for their odds of success using IVF as a treatment, their fertility doctor will begin the process. IVF is the process in which eggs and sperm are brought together outside the body, and the resulting embryos are planted in the woman’s uterus to mature. To begin, the woman must stimulate her ovaries with injectable medications.  She will take these for 10 to 12 days while her ovaries are monitored by an ultrasound and blood tests. When the eggs are mature enough, the fertility doctor will retrieve them and fertilize them with sperm provided by the man. The embryos will mature until they are ready to be implanted in the uterus. This typically happens three to five days after the eggs are retrieved. Pelvic rest is recommended for an additional three to five days and after 12 days, a pregnancy test is taken to see if the IVF was successful.

While IVF treatments are successful to many couples, there are also instances in which this type of fertility treatment doesn’t work according to plan. Research is constantly being done by fertility specialists to understand this. Recently two studies were published showing two very different reasons for IVF failure. These findings may be discouraging for some families, but understanding the odds of IVF failure, is extremely important for those considering treatment, and the doctors who provide it.


Researchers in Southampton and the Netherlands have identified a specific gene pattern in the wombs of women who have been entirely unsuccessful with IVF treatments. The study looked at biopsies of 43 women who had recurrent implantation failure despite the use of viable embryos, and those of 72 women who successfully gave birth after IVF or ICSI treatments. They found that the women who were repeatedly unsuccessful in becoming pregnant with IVF treatments all exhibited the same abnormal genetic pattern in their uterine wall. The 72 women who had success with IVF did not exhibit this gene expression in their wombs. News that IVF treatments will not work can be devastating for couples seeking a family. However in lieu of this discovery, fertility doctors will soon be able to create a test that will be able to discover this gene expression before hope and significant costs are taken.

Mental Health

Physical health is a very important factor in fertility, but researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have found that mental health is also a major factor in the success of IVF. In their recent study they found that anxiety and depression were associated with lower success of IVF treatments. Much research has been done to study the effect of prescription antidepressants on fertility treatments, however this study found that women who were diagnosed with depression and anxiety had lower rates of pregnancy with IVF treatments. This was true whether or not the woman had been taking antidepressants to treat her condition. This can be helpful for women seeking pregnancy with IVF. Mental health can have a major effect on your success with IVF and other fertility treatments. It’s very important to make sure that you are in the best health you can be in order to conceive.

Preparing to undergo an IVF treatment is a lengthy and emotionally taxing process. These new studies shed light on some of the factors that will inhibit your ability to successfully bring a viable embryo to term. At Viera Fertility Centers we understand how disappointing fertility failure can be. We want all of our patients to understand the risks and factors that are involved with all of the fertility treatments we offer. If you have any questions about if your family would benefit from IVF treatments, give us a call today.