When this journey just gets harder wi... - Fertility Network UK

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When this journey just gets harder with each day 😢


Thank you to everyone who commented on my post regarding new clinic consultations.

Unfortunately after Friday we are even more lost in this terrible journey. So after three failed icsi cycles we are no further ahead with working out what our next steps should be.

Clinic one: three failed icsi cycles long protocol. Recommended a short protocol but wasn’t positive about it or an embryo donor.

Clinic two: recommended short protocol as that’s all they do. Focused heavily on my husbands sperm results. Suggested if sample is poor on the day then freeze all eggs and move to sperm donor.

Clinic three: recommended Long protocol different meds. Massive curve ball that it’s not my husbands sperm and that in fact its my eggs I respond well but produce poor eggs. Suggested one cycle with mine if fails certain egg donor required.

We are even more lost as we now have all three clinic suggesting donor but different ones. Where do we turn now?

Sorry for the long post have been brewing on this all weekend and now need to talk to people who understand this journey 😢 xx

7 Replies

Hi Katrina. I’m sorry to hear that your journey has been tough.

Just to give you a bit of a back ground, my husband has azoospermia and I have low amh. We had 1 failed NHS Icsi cycle and 1 failed self funding Icsi with a clinic abroad . We knew from the beginning we would need a sperm donor but it was very hard for me to accept that we would also need an egg donor as my body could not produce high number of eggs and we never got to blastocyst stage. It wasn’t an easy decision to go for double donation but after 2 failed icsi with OE, I just didn’t want to go through the emotional journey anymore and there is one thing we both know for sure...we want a family. So here we are waiting for the clinic to let us know when our egg donor will be scheduled in for egg collection. My husband and I are very excited and so glad that we decided to go down this road. I’m also glad that I gave my own eggs one more chance and when the second icsi failed I knew it was time to move on to double donation.

I guess what I’m trying to say is everyone ‘s journey is different and different clinics will suggest different things. But the main thing is what you and hubby want the most. When we were choosing a private clinic, they all gave different suggestions and it was a real mine field. But what they suggested was not what made up our mind about which clinic to chose, it was more of which one would communicate better and give us a more honest and personal treatment. So maybe ask more questions so you get to know the clinic better. If you think you could give your eggs and hubby’s sperm another chance financially and emotionally then go for it but I believe there is a line that will need to be drawn. One day you will know where you want to be and you will get there.

Sending you best of luck xx

We had the same, different clinic,different suggestions.

My advice is egg quality is most important, if your under 44, but over 35, its a major factor, they all should be telling you this. We spent years with using our own egg/sperm- then we tried sperm donor cycles , negative again. (I have low sperm count, my wife was very healthy, just her age against her, we started ivf when she was 37 )

As she approached 42, we used donor egg with my sperm and i worked first time.

Make a plan based on your ages, and your budget, these clinics should provide some counselling also, use that to talk through your options.

We are so happy with our result, I cannot tell you how happy and we were against donor at the start of this journey.

You can try both routes, keep trying using your own eggs and sperm,but keep all options open and learn to accept them, for when you get a positive result, how you got there really wont matter.

Best of luck, and don't give up


I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s all so confusing. Based on my experience, I think you just have to listen to your gut and do what feels right. And try to put yourself in a position where you don’t look back and regret the decisions you’ve made.

After my first failed round where we had zero fertilization (a complete shock!), we went to the fertility show in London and spoke to a handful of consultants, and embryologists. It was eye opening because I truly understood then that no one really knows what works and it’s all trial and error - it’s not the best attitude to have but it helped me realize that there is no one right thing to do. One clinic told me I needed to move to donor eggs because this meant my eggs were not good. Another said it’s likely we’d need sperm donor because my DH sperm can’t fertilise my eggs. Perhaps we needed to do a DNA fragmentation test. Every one said slightly different things. Basically in the end they are trying to sell something and perhaps even give their clinics the best statistics (which I suspect was the case with the clinic that recommended donor eggs).

In the end, I did my own research into scholarly papers (not just forums!). I went outside my own clinics advice (because we had 3 funded cycles we weren’t going to move) and we got a test done through a university research project and that indicated how we moved forward with our second round.

Based on what you have written and without knowing your history, these are my thoughts (and take them win a grain of salt!):

- if your clinic two only does short protocols, that seems a flag to me that they aren’t flexible and willing to listen to how your body responds. I did 1st round on short protocol and while I responded well enough (8 mature eggs) the doctor said I had discordant growth, meaning I had a lot more potential follicles but they didn’t grow in sync and weren’t ready when the others were ready. For 2nd round we did the long and I got 15 mature eggs and better response. So I think switching the protocol and trying something different is worth a try.

- plus their suggestion to freeze the egg if the sperm sample is poor... bad advice IMO. Why not freeze the sperm sample in advance so that if it’s poor the day of, you have a backup. Sperm freezes way better than eggs. And if they think it’s a Sperm issue, why not wait 3 months and do all you can to improve the sperm first rather than put you through a cycle just to freeze the eggs. I don’t like the sound of clinic two! Lol

- different meds can make a difference... Gonal F versus Menopur. Again do some research but I believe Menopur gives slightly better quality eggs (although perhaps fewer).

- I’ve read that if embryos slow down from day 3 to 5, it can indicate issue with the sperm. I think there’s lots of debate on this so you can research yourself but if you are already having potential sperm issues (since you need Icsi) I’d focus on this since it’s the ‘easier’ thing to try to fix.... supplements, better habits, diet, exercise. I remember telling my DH to stop using the heated car seats and not putting his phone in his pocket - anything to improve the chances.

Perhaps consider a cycle where you inject half your eggs with your DH sperm and half with donor sperm? That would help rule out if it’s a sperm issue.

Maybe consider a ‘freeze-all’ cycle if they are good enough to freeze. There are slightly better stats on frozen cycles. I’m convinced my fresh transfer didn’t work because of slight over stimms. My first FET worked.

I’m sure you’ve heard all this advice before but I’ll mention it here... have you read It Starts with the Egg to help improve egg quality? Remove toxins, go to all natural beauty products, etc. Taking supplements and living to your best possible health (food and exercise wise). Have you done an HSG to find potential polyps or fibroids? (I had this done and removed 3 polyps). Consider a lap to find any hidden endo or anything that could be preventing implantation.

I feel I’m putting more questions in your mind now... I know that with time and some deep listening to yourself and your partner, you will find the best way forward for you. It isn’t easy and it’s so much work. It’s so unfair we have to jump through hoops while the majority do the population never even has to consider it might be hard to get pregnant. I wish you he best of luck. Thinking of you and let us know how you get on. 😘

Agree with everything said above. Throwing this in too: They thought it was my eggs but had karyotyping and it was a chromosome translocation on my husband’s side. Might be worth getting that tested if you can afford to. It’s only a 2-5% chance that’s your problem but it would be one less thing to worry about? My story is in my previous posts.

Hi Katrina, its so hard to know what to do. Ive just had a look back at your previous cycles results and they are pretty similar to mine. Not too bad egg collections but the majority of the embryos seem to slow down after day 3 (from what Ive read). Its so hard to know what to do in these scenarios when you have clinics telling you different things. Im not sure how your fertilisation rates went in your cycles but we never seemed to have too many issues there and the clinic came to the conclusion (as we got told from day one being 38) that its likely my eggs are not the best quality. I was keen to explore options of fragmentation tests for my hubby but they said it was pointless as we we what they classed as good fertilisation and that when embryos stop developing that its likely the egg....which of course they have no test for but its an educated guess - we only ever had one or 2 blastocysts....although they did say there was no reason none of these shouldnt have resulted in a pregnancy. After 3 cycles of ICSI we got given a 5% rate of success with my OE and said there was no reason to believe that short protocol would help us. As we were moving to self funding and didnt have lots of money to thow at things we made the hard decision to try DE. We got 6 very good quality 5 day blastocysts....which pretty much proved my clinics theory that although my hubby has low sperm count they do the job and it was my eggs that were the problem but again there was no evidence prior to actually doing a cycle.

Obviously you still have lots to think about....clinic one sound a bit like my NHS clinic although mine didnt think short protocol would benefit us, and similar to clinic 3 that they are not hopeful of a successful cycle and both suggesting donor eggs. I dont like the fact that the clinic 2 have suggested freezing you eggs instead of sperm, that crazy. Ive done lots of reading that freezing sperm is far better than eggs! So whatever clinic you try I think this is something to think about for sure!

Its so hard to know what to do for the best and completely sympathise with you, nobody really knows 100% what the reason behind failures! Feel free to stalk my profile to get the full picture of my journey if you think it may help and good luck with your decision!xx

Thank you all so much for your replies I have not long got in from work so haven’t had chance to take it all in yet. But so many amazing suggestions and support. We are going to sit after dinner and go through them properly so thank you xx

Well, Katrina, I would advise you stick to one. But the fact is ICSI has become kind of necessary for people who are undergoing IVF. Because it makes sure the sperm penetrates the egg. ICSI is just boosting the chances of success of IVF. Moreover, the success depends on the sperm quality and also the egg. If both of one is a poor responder then the results would not be the desired one. Therefore, semen analysis is vital. As ICSI only facilitates the sperm to reach the egg. And beneficial in male factor infertility. As you have mentioned that your eggs are of poor quality. Then, why didn't your doctor advised you some medications? Because the quality can be altered but not the eggs are produced. Moreover, the quality of the sperm can be enhanced too. Just don't compromise quality over quantity (finances). Talk with a good RE or fertility doctor to give an accurate evaluation. Choose a clinic that is known for FET treatments, skilled doctors with less staff turnover. Good luck hun

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