How to React to a Failed Transfer

Photo of a woman typing on her computer sitting on a park bench.

The days and weeks following a failed transfer can be a tough time emotionally. It can be difficult to understand how the transfer failed when the embryos looked great and your uterine lining was perfect. While science has evolved to give us incredible insight into pregnancy and IVF technologies, there is still an element of chance. Success rates of pregnancy through IVF are good, and can even be great, but they are not absolute. Unsuccessful embryo transfers can and do happen.

After a negative pregnancy test, some surrogates may ask themselves, “Was it something I did? Something I didn’t do? Something I should have done differently?” As long as you followed doctor’s orders and took your medications, the answer is no. A failed transfer is not the result of anything you did or did not do. Many surrogates tell us that the relationship with their intended parents can feel different following an unsuccessful embryo transfer.

The intended parents may be disappointed or sad that the pregnancy test results were negative. Some intended parents feel as though using IVF with a surrogate is a sure fire way to achieve pregnancy on the first shot. Any setbacks, especially after the long road they’ve likely already travelled on their own prior to surrogacy, can be very difficult to manage. Intended parents may distance themselves and become less communicative then they were prior to the embryo transfer.

The intended parents are also giving you space to manage your own emotions following a failed transfer. They often worry that you will take the failure hard and need space too. Don’t be afraid to continue communicating with them during the time between transfers, but understand that their replies may not be as swift or as lengthy as you’ve become accustomed to.

In most cases the relationship will self-regulate and tends to amp up again with the preparation for your next cycle and transfer. You will have the support of your case specialist during this time. If you need to speak with someone about your emotions dealing with the failed transfer or with your relationship with your intended parents during the time between transfers you can also reach out to your mental health specialist to talk. Your emotions are normal and appropriate. These sounding boards can offer the support you need to get back on track and ready for your next attempt!