Reasons why your IVF cycle can be cancelled

27th October 2013 in IVF

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

Not every patient who starts a cycle of IVF at a private clinic or NHS unit completes it. Sometimes, you may find your IVF cycle has to be cancelled part-way through. There are many reasons why this can happen:

 Cancellation before egg recovery procedure

  • Poor response to the fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries
  • Risk too high of over-response to the fertility drugs and development of a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • Any illness which prevents egg collection going ahead, such as flu, which makes it unwise to proceed at the time
  • Not taking your hCG injection at the correct time – this triggers the release of the mature eggs we need to recover
  • Patient choice – sometimes for personal reasons you may decide to postpone your cycle yourself

     Cancellation after egg recovery procedure

    • No eggs collected
    • Failure of your eggs to fertilise, either using your partner’s or a donor’s sperm
    • Abnormal fertilisation – if too many sperm fertilise the egg
    • Abnormal embryo development
    • No embryo development
    • Developing symptoms of OHSS after egg recovery

      Having your IVF treatment cancelled due to circumstances such as these can be upsetting. But it does not mean that it is the end of the road for your treatment and that you can’t be helped. In almost all cases, there are alternative approaches we can try.

      Depending on the reason for the cancellation, it may be possible to proceed at a later date. For example, if you develop the symptoms of OHSS after your egg collection procedure, then we would freeze your eggs so you can attempt a cycle once it is safe to do so.

      If it is cancelled due to poor response, or over response, then your consultant may be able to change your stimulation protocol and either increase or decrease your dosage of drugs.

      In some instances, poor response may mean you have a higher chance of successful treatment using a donor egg, for which we have no waiting list with UK HFEA-registered donors available now. For failed fertilisation, if you have had IVF you may opt for ICSI instead, where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg to fertilise it. But if you have had ICSI and your eggs have not fertilised, again you may decide to use a donor egg.

      Any changes recommended to you by your consultant will always be thoroughly explained in detail so you know why it is being recommended, and the likely chances of success with your new treatment plan.

      Cancellation of a cycle is something we always aim to avoid, through the thorough testing you undergo before your treatment is planned. Your results allow us to minimise the risk of cancellation due to conditions such as OHSS or poor response to fertility medications.

      If a cycle is cancelled however and we believe it is not appropriate to continue treatment because it is highly unlikely to work, then we will always be honest with you about this. For some patients, it can mean the end of their treatment journey, but you will never make this decision without fully understanding the facts. Our counselling team, and team of fertility consultants, will support you to help you decide what is right for you.

      Last updated: 20th January 2020