Failed Embryo Transfers...Now What?

Victoria Ferrara


The excitement and expectations intended parents may feel are long coming and aptly evolved. As hopeful parents-to-be, they have put forth tremendous effort to: find the right surrogacy agency, interview potential surrogates to find the best match, and work with an IVF clinic to prepare for embryo transfers. After all this hard work, IPs are ready to realize their dreams to grow their family. While many pregnancies and healthy babies do result from the first few embryo transfers, several other IPs will need to stay strong and make additional attempts to experience success. 

Common Reasons for Failed Transfers:

Assisted reproductive technologies continue to improve the outcome of embryo transfers, but it is not an exact science and there is no way to guarantee success.  Different factors may contribute to failed transfers, but a few recurring culprits are most notably the reasons for difficulties. Some common reasons for failed transfers include:

  • Quality of the Embryo: Research indicates that the quality of the egg used to fertilize the embryo significantly enhances or impedes the likeliness it will succeed. The age of the woman whose egg is to be used is a factor. The quality of the sperm used to fertilize the egg also contributes to the quality of the embryo. Chromosomal abnormalities can reduce the chance that the embryo will implant.
  • Quality of the Embryo Transfer: It is important to work with an experienced IVF clinic. Any statistics the clinic is willing to produce or references they can provide regarding their success rate with embryo transfers will help IPs make the best informed decision. IVF is becoming a more common acronym among social circles, but that does even the playing field among clinics. An experienced, reputable IVF doctor is more likely to successfully transplant a fertilized embryo.
  • Quality of the Uterus (Uterine Wall): Polyps, cysts, or a thin uterine wall can reduce the chances that the embryo will implant. Fortunately, gestational surrogates have already successfully carried their own children to term.

Common Number of IVF Cycles/Transfers in Surrogacy Contracts

The surrogacy contract between the IPs and their gestational surrogate will cover how many IVF cycles/embryo transfers both parties agree to try. Contracts through Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists LLC typically list three attempts to conceive. While some parties experience success within the first few attempts, others choose to continue their efforts through additional embryo transfers.

Don't Lose Hope

It is understandable if someone becomes disheartened after experiencing several failed transfers. Intended parents and the gestational surrogate are both involved with the same goal of birthing a child. While no one can force either party to continue, it is important to stress there is reason not to lose hope. There are several clients who have experienced success with the fourth, fifth or even sixth embryo transfer.

*Please note: This is a general synopsis. You should speak with your healthcare provider for more information and details about your individual process.

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