A Necessary IVF Break

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an effective assisted reproductive technology (ART) that has helped millions of couples achieve a pregnancy. However, the procedure doesn’t always guarantee a baby. In some cases, a transfer will fail, and the woman will need to undergo an additional IVF cycle. When this happens, patients may wonder if back-to-back fertility treatments are acceptable or if a break in between cycles is a better choice.


Breaking down the IVF procedure

Accounting for about 1-2% of births every year, many babies are born via IVF. The process generally starts with blood work and an ultrasound to obtain baseline information. Medications are then administered to stimulate egg growth. Once mature, a retrieval is performed to extract the eggs from the ovaries. The eggs are combined with sperm in the lab, and the resulting embryo is frozen or prepared for transfer. At a pivotal time in the cycle, a catheter is used to transfer the embryo directly into the uterus in hopes of implantation.

The fate of the pregnancy test

Approximately 2 weeks after an embryo transfer, a blood test can be performed to check for pregnancy. If the result is positive, the patient moves on to prenatal care and hopefully welcomes a healthy baby 9 months later. If the result is negative, the woman must decide whether to try again right away or take a break between IVF cycles.

Emotional reasons for an IVF break

Fertility treatment is emotionally taxing. When a cycle fails, many patients may want to take off a month or more before trying again. During this time, women can focus on healthy coping mechanisms to maintain good mental health. Talk therapy can benefit some individuals, while others may prefer long walks, yoga, or meditation. Whatever the approach, taking time to focus on personal well-being can ensure a woman is emotionally ready for the next cycle. Since IVF can be expensive, some women also can benefit from a short break to save up more money before starting treatment again.

Physical benefits of waiting

During IVF treatment, different fertility medications are used to stimulate egg growth in the ovaries. Such medications are associated with side effects, including cramps, nausea, headaches, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and mood changes. A break between cycles allows the medications to leave the system and the body to return to normal before trying again.

Back-to-back treatment

Although there are many reasons to wait between cycles, back-to-back treatment may be advised in some cases. Women over the age of 40 may want to try again immediately since fertility naturally declines with age, and the number of eggs retrieved will only continue to decrease. Younger women who respond well to the medications and experience minimal side effects may also be approved for a second cycle right away. This can be especially appealing for couples with older children who want to avoid a significant sibling age gap.

A personal decision

The decision about whether to wait a few cycles or proceed with another round of IVF right away is deeply personal. Each patient will have a set of specific physical, emotional, and financial factors to consider when making the decision. Back-to-back cycles may mean a quicker path to pregnancy, but taking a break offers physical and mental benefits.

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