IVF is one of the most complicated treatment options for infertile couples. Those who opt for it know that it is their last chance at having their own baby. Their desires, hopes and emotions are all very tightly woven into the outcome of this procedure. Unfortunately, many patients who undergo IVF treatment have very unrealistic expectations about the results.
It’s not uncommon that many women stop further treatment if their first IVF cycle fails; this despite the fact that they know they are essentially denying themselves the possibility of success by doing so.
What Actually Occurs
The number of dropouts after the first IVF cycle fails is very high. These women stop any further treatment and give up on their quest for a baby. From a practical viewpoint, when a couple decides to undergo any specific treatment, they would normally be expected to continue it until the desired results are achieved. However, instead of persisting and opting for more cycles, many couples back-off if their first cycle fails. Many of these couples will banish the thought of IVF from their minds , and some will also start thinking of alternative options such as surrogacy.
A range of factors play a role in this decision to discontinue with IVF treatment:
• It is a fact that IVF is expensive and the failure of a cycle also becomes a major financial setback. Not only are the different procedures involved in it expensive, but the medications and tests required can burn a sizeable hole in your pocket too. In such instances, couples have no option but to abandon their attempts at IVF and try to look for cheaper alternatives (which just may not be effective at all)
• At times, the stress factor has a role to play in this decision and couples are unable to handle the mental stress that is part and parcel of IVF. They get emotionally exhausted with dealing with all the uncertainties, during as well as after the IVF cycle. They feel they just don’t want to deal with the same rollercoaster ride again. A patient who is unprepared or one who has not been counseled properly at the outset, is unable to cope with the stress of failure and chooses to back-out
• In some instances, it’s the doctor who is responsible for misleading the patient. At the time of the first consultation, when doctors want to sign up a new patient for IVF treatment, they are usually very optimistic, and they make many false promises. They quote exaggerated success rates, and try to do their best to induce the patient to start the treatment with them . When the IVF cycle fails, they then abandon the patient, who feels cheated and misled. Thus, the same doctor who told her that the quality of the embryos is Grade A at the time of transfer then turns around and blames poor quality embryos for the failed implantation when the cycle fails. After this kind of bitter experience, it's quite understandable why many patients are no longer willing to trust IVF doctors.
The media is also responsible for demoralizing the patient. The media being what it is, it tends to highlight only the positive aspects of IVF. The entire procedure and the success rates are glamorized and overrated. They don’t talk much about the failure rates and the picture they paint is very pretty to say the least. This leaves patients unprepared for failure and when their IVF cycle fails, they are unable to cope with the fact, and opt out of the treatment
These problems can be overcome by empowering the patient with the correct knowledge of IVF, and good counseling can make a world of a difference! IVF failure doesn't mean the end of the world. A careful analysis can find the causes and areas of improvement to make your next IVF cycle more successful. IVF is not a one-time hit or miss treatment and patients need to be prepared for the fact that they may have to undergo more than one cycle to achieve a pregnancy.
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