embryo on the womb lining

If you’re undergoing IVF for the first time, recurrent implantation failure is probably the least of your worries. Just dealing with the medication protocol and getting to grips with injections is enough to start your head spinning. But for  around 15% of people having IVF, recurrent implantation failure is yet another complication they’ll face.

embryo implantation on the womb lining

What Is Recurrent Implantation Failure?

Recurrent implantation failure is defined as a lack of success after three attempts at an embryo transfer using good quality embryos. That’s to say, the outcome of three consecutive embryo transfers – whether fresh or frozen – has not been a pregnancy.

Lack of implantation is confirmed with a negative pregnancy test or a negative beta HCG blood test.

Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that could cause recurrent implantation failure. So it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why this sometimes happens.

There could be problems with the embryos such as chromosomal abnormalities, the uterus or endometrium being unable to sustain a pregnancy, or other, more hidden factors such as autoimmune conditions.

What Tests Are Available?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to experience three transfers that haven’t resulted in implantation, you may be offered blood testing. The blood panel for spans a thrombophilia screen, autoimmune testing as well as thyroid function. 

These blood tests are to eliminate any causes such as undiagnosed blood clotting abnormailties, autoimmune conditions such as coeliac disease, or impaired thyroid function. All of which have the ability to hinder implantation if untreated.

Treatment For Recurrent Implantation Failure

If anything is detected via the blood testing, this can be treated prior to the next embryo transfer via medication or a tweak to the transfer protocol. For example, in the case of clotting issues, adding blood thinners to the next cycle’s protocol may be the key to success.

Similarly, autoimmune conditions could be treated via the addition of intralipids. And thyroid function can be rectified by taking daily medication.

Unfortunately, for most people, recurrent implantation failure blood screening will not detect a specific cause. So further testing of the uterus or embryos may be recommended as a next step.

What Can I Do To Maximise My Chances Of Implantation?

As always when trying to conceive, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly are encouraged. As are stopping smoking and limiting both alcohol and caffeine consumption. All women looking to become pregnant are also encouraged to take folic acid and vitamin D.

Finding the winning protocol for your individual circumstances can take some time. Whilst not a definitive answer for everyone, if you are experiencing recurrent similar issues, blood testing is a good place to start when looking for answers.

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