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First failed ICSI cycle

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Hi everyone,

I'm new on here, I was just after some advice please - from anyone who might have been through this.

My first ICSI cycle failed at the weekend, I got my period - and received my negative blood test result yesterday (11th). I was devastated, and didn't help with the severe period pains, but I'm trying to keep positive and keep going.

This was a fresh cycle - we had 5 eggs, 2 fertilised, and 1 made it to blastocyst stage and was transferred successfully on day 5. The nurse at the clinic told me that my blood test result shows that the embryo failed to attach and the likely cause of the cycle failing is that the embryo/blastocyst was not 'strong' enough to implant and therefore stopped growing.

I'll be starting my second cycle after 1 month's break, and the nurse advised the specialist will probably change the protocol, and that I should keep trying for 2 more cycles. She said they would discuss 'other options' with us if we haven't been successful after 3 cycles, but I've seen plenty of people on forums who have undergone more than 3 cycles, so was wondering why she told me this? Maybe because of my age? I'm 36, but will be 37 by the time I start my second cycle. We're going to see our specialist on Friday, so will ask him about this, but if anyone has any information about this, or have similar experiences, that they could share, I would be incredibly grateful.

Many thanks - and good luck to all x

Edited by Vinc16

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I know how devastating it is, sorry it didn't work out. I tried to think about it rationally when I was going through it (hard, I know!) - each embryo transfer has a roughly 20% chance of resulting in a live baby. So for decent odds, you need to go into the process realistically expecting to do up to 5 transfers. Of course, this is just a very rough average - many people have success on their first cycle, but others take many more.

There are lots of changes in protocol and I guess different things work for different people. I don't know all the changes they could make but some might be:

-upping the drugs so you get more than 5 eggs

-transferring at day 3 rather than day 5

-allowing unassisted fertilisation in the test-tube rather than ICSI (we had great success with this, despite my DHs sperm having 99% bad morphology - the 1% good were able to do their thing in the test tube and fertilise 13 out of my 14 eggs. And this way you still allow some natural selection to take place with the strongest sperm getting to the egg rather than the one the doctor thinks looks nice. The clinic can do a zona binding test with the sperm to find out if this will work.)

-pre-implantation genetic testing - perhaps this is what the nurse was talking about. They test all the embryos for problems before implanting any to increase the chances. It is very expensive and usually only tried after other cycles have failed.

36/37 is when I did IVF too, and that makes us spring chickens in IVF terms ;)

I got my gorgeous DS2 from the third transfer and he is totally worth every bit of pain and misery I went through. Best of luck!

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Hi Libbylu,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my post, and for all the info/suggestions, I really appreciate it.

It's also great to hear about your positive outcome, congrats!

I'll make sure I ask my FS about those points you included and see what he says.

The clinic told me that they're reluctant to transfer day 3 embryos because the culture they use in the lab for the embies is apparently just as good as the uterine environment, and they prefer to see embies developing to day 5 before transferring.

My DH has antibodies in his sperm, (but only borderline levels) so that's why we're doing ICSI and not IVF. If we get more eggs next cycle then the clinic have told us we could do IVF on half of them, and ICSI on the other half...so fingers crossed there are more to play with second time round. I'm hoping our FS will alter the drugs to increase the number of eggs, as I'm aware that 5 were below average. The nurse did tell me that the first round is sometimes a bit of a trial run, so will have to keep positive and hope it works out for us one day soon!

Thanks again :yes:

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Sorry to hear the cycle didn't work.


Maybe when the nurse spoke of other options she just meant other protocols (rather than giving up on ivf). For example there is slow sperm/picsi/ha-icsi plus all the other variations Libbylu mentioned. Clinic might try only transferring frozen embryos as some believe it gives the body more time to recover from the pickup. So many options.


Also I wouldn't say 5 eggs were below average. And I'm sure you know it's all about quality over quantity.


It took 5 transfers to get out DD1 (two pickups - first pickup 17 eggs,, 3 blasts but resulted in 2 miscarriages and a bfn. Second pickup, lower dose of drugs - 7 eggs , 2 blasts, 1BFN and then our DD)


For our second DD (due in a few weeks) it only took 1 transfer (1 pickup - 6 eggs , 3 blasts, first transfer worked, but was not a fresh transfer as clinic believed I would have more luck allowing my body to calm down and transfer a frostie)


So Cycles can just vary so much. All the best for your next round.

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Such rollercoaster process! Some great advice above.


I felt compelled to reply - my first ICSI cycle was identical to yours.


Then, followng a few small-ish tweaks second round, I had 7 eggs retrieved & we had 6 embies at day five. Our first two (single) transfers were successful, so we now have DS & DD plus four frozen embies.


Your specialist will have seen all this before & will no doubt have things they will want to try slightly differently. Our lesson was that it doesn't have to be all that different to have a big impact!


It's such a lottery really - but a wrenching process as you move though it. If you trust your Dr & clinic, it's *just* a matter of continuing to roll that dice.


One thing I'd do differently is ask for the genetic testing on each embie - if you get more than one -in future cycles. I think the cost has down to roughly $700 per embie, and you bump the odds up to 70-80% success rate by only transfering viable embies. This is easier emotionally (not going through cycles doomed to fail) and actually saves money by saving you the cycle fee for those failed rounds.


Wishing you luck! One dud cycle isn't particularly meaningful on the path, and I'd stay optimistic that rounds 2 or 3 work out for you.

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Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your responses, they've been been very helpful, and it's good to hear about some positive experiences.

We went to see our specialist on Friday, and he answered all our questions. He has decided on a longer protocol for the second cycle, starting in a couple of weeks with provera, then a nasal spray of something?, and then he's increased the dose of puregon for the stimulation process, with the aim of getting more eggs. I'm feeling very nervous about starting again, but I've also seen one of the clinic counsellors, who is planning to stay in contact with me over the 2WW, as I found this the most difficult part of the process. Just trying to stay hopeful and positive.

Thanks again :-)

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