The Sorrow of a Failed Transfer

Everyone loves hearing success stories of embryo donation and adoption. You know the story: The family who faced years of infertility and failed treatments, decides to take one last shot and pursue embryo adoption. And it works! They get pregnant on the first transfer! They look so happy—they are finally parents. It is everything they ever dreamed it would be.

But what about the story where it does not work the first time? The family poured so much of their time and resources to complete the adoption process. They attended so many doctor’s appointments leading up to the transfer. Maybe they were told by the doctor that the embryos looked fantastic, that there was no reason to believe the transfer would not be successful, filling the family’s hearts with hope.

And then the beta test comes back negative. No hCG levels detected. They are not pregnant.

Unsuccessful frozen embryo transfers (or FETs) are more common than people think. Women 35 years and younger have a 60 percent chance of pregnancy per transfer. This means 40% of the time, the embryos do not implant. There are several reasons why this could happen: a thinner uterine lining, an unexpected ovulation occurs, fluid in the uterine cavity, or just simply an unknown reason (the most common reason).

Regardless of the reason, a failed FET is hard news to hear—one of the most dreaded outcomes of embryo adoption. And many families think they are the only ones this has happened to. All those success stories—why didn’t it work for us?

First and foremost, you are not the only one who has had this experience. Remember, around 40% of FETs are unsuccessful.

Second, it is important to seek out support from a counseling professional, a support group, or friends and family you trust while you navigate the emotional toll of a failed FET. If you are working with an adoption agency, ask if you can connect with another adoptive family who may have experienced the same thing. Embryo adoption is not a guarantee of pregnancy. Many couples who have chosen embryo adoption have experienced one or two (or even three) failed FETs before they finally have success.

You do not need to do this alone, and you should not have to. The more support you have, the better.

To learn more about embryo donation or adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.