For most people, IVF is not the start of their journey to conceive. 

It’s likely that if you are considering IVF treatment, you may have already been through years of trying to conceive naturally, multiple negative pregnancy tests, miscarriages, failed IUIs, or a combination of these upsetting and emotionally draining experiences. 

IVF may feel like a glimmer of hope and a chance to have the family you’ve always dreamed of. For many individuals and couples, IVF brings a successful outcome, but it is a challenging procedure in itself and it’s important to be mentally and physically prepared for the challenges.

Which emotions are common in couples experiencing infertility issues?

For couples or individuals who’ve been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for a long time and have been diagnosed with specific fertility issues, or even ‘unexplained’ infertility, it can leave them feeling shocked and struggling to cope with the realisation that they may not be able to become parents. They may be experiencing feelings of grief and loss, failure, inadequacy, disappointment, jealousy, anger, frustration, isolation and more. It’s important to realise that these feelings are perfectly normal reactions to going through experiences that can take their toll both emotionally and physically.

It can often feel like everyone around you is just getting on with their lives, becoming parents with seemingly little effort, while you may feel like your life is on hold. Unless people have experienced infertility themselves, they will find it difficult to understand what you’re going through. Even close friends and family may make flippant or hurtful comments, without even realising what they’ve done – at the other end of the scale, they may start tiptoeing around you, feeling guilty that they have children when you don’t, or not inviting you to events around children, in case it upsets you.  

What are the challenges involved in going through IVF treatment?  

  • Decisions about clinics, treatments and medication
  • Daily injections
  • Side-effects of the medication and procedures
  • The waiting times. Wondering if the eggs will fertilise and viable embryos will be produced and whether the embryo(s) have implanted successfully 
  • Knowing who to talk to about what you are going through

What might help you, as you prepare for and go through IVF treatment?

  • Being fit at the start of the process and having a healthy diet, to prepare your body physically and to give you the best chance of IVF success
  • Being well-informed about the IVF process and asking questions if you need to
  • Acknowledging your feelings to yourself and to each other – keeping open communication
  • Going through counselling, for additional support
  • Having treatments like acupuncture, which many people believe help to reduce stress and aid blood flow to the reproductive organs
  • Taking part in relaxing activities that you enjoy

What happens if IVF treatment isn’t successful for you?

Success rates of IVF vary considerably, based on age, the cause of the infertility, lifestyle and other factors. While some people do get pregnant with their first cycle of IVF, for many, it can take several cycles, or, sadly, not work at all for them.  

Going through the whole process of IVF and then finding it hasn’t worked for you, is bound to feel devastating and it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and grieve for your loss. It’s also important to talk to your doctor and for you and your partner (if you have one) to seek support. Your doctor can recommend counselling services most suited to your needs as individuals and as a couple. Here are a few other recommendations that may help you in coming to terms with and coping with your feelings:

  • Looking after yourself and giving yourself the time and space that you need for healing
  • Talking to people who acknowledge your feelings 
  • Having couple time, where you can do something that you both enjoy.

Are there other options after IVF?

There are a range of other options that you could consider, if your first IVF cycle has been unsuccessful:

  • Further IVF treatments (depending on your age, budget and medical advice)
  • Surrogacy
  • Egg and/or sperm donor
  • Fostering
  • Adoption

Take all of the time that you need before embarking on other treatments and carefully discuss your options with your doctor and fertility specialist. 


At the IVF network, we understand that for many people, IVF can be a traumatic experience with a disappointing outcome. Through our dedicated channel, website and blogs, we provide information, advice and sources of support, for all stages of your fertility journey.