IVF Failures: Unmasking the Hidden Truths
July 06, 2023


Following an unsuccessful IVF round, patients frequently want to know why the cycle didn't work out and frequently hold the doctor responsible. However, in Indian clinics, a subpar doctor is typically the most frequent cause of IVF failure. It's concerning because a lot of clinics don't disclose much information regarding the embryos they create. Proactively sharing embryo photos from their clinics demonstrates high-quality medical treatment and boosts people' trust in their physicians. But when medical professionals withhold this information, it indicates that the embryo was of low quality, and people are forced to accept the reality. Since most patients dislike hearing that they are being taken advantage of, they find it difficult to accept this reality. In the event that an IVF physician fails to supply photos, patients are receiving

After an IVF failure, patients obviously want to find out why the cycle failed, and doctors are happy to come up with multiple reasons. They come up with all kinds of creative reasons, such as -your uterus wasn’t good enough; you’re too old; the sperms weren’t good enough; the eggs weren’t fine; or they use a generic waste paper basket term called failed implantation. They pretty much blame the patient for the failure, so that they can then advise additional investigations, and the patient is left wondering why the doctor didn’t do all these tests earlier! Why did they wait for the cycle to fail? Other doctors will add insult to injury, and tell the patient to either do surrogacy or use donor egg or donor sperm.

But the bitter truth is that the commonest reason for IVF failure in most Indian IVF clinics is not bad eggs or nasty sperm, but it’s usually a bad doctor. And this might sound surprising, but I can say this with a lot of confidence because I see a lot of patients who failed IVF cycles in other clinics, who ask me for a second opinion. I ask them for a copy of their IVF medical records, and what’s remarkable is how little information is provided to these patients in the papers. Sure, many of them are computerized and printed out, and they look very fancy, but there is no photograph of the embryos the clinic has generated.

This in itself is a big red flag. They will use all kinds of medical jargon and claim they have transferred a top-quality blastocyst, and will even grade it, but without a photograph, really, these reports mean nothing. Every good IVF clinic is happy to share photographs proactively because it documents that they have provided high-quality medical care, and increases the confidence and trust patients have in their doctors because they can see that good quality care was provided. But when doctors hide this information from patients, this is clearly a huge problem, because there’s absolutely no reason for them to do that. After all, if they’ve transferred a top-quality blastocyst, why shouldn’t they provide photographs? The reason they don’t give photographs is that this means that the embryo really wasn’t good quality, and they’re just taking the patient for a ride, and hiding the truth from the patient. In any case, this is the commonest problem for IVF failure.

The tragedy is that most patients aren’t willing to accept this truth because no one likes to be told that their doctor cheated them. And their first response is one of denial. And a lot of doctors don’t like being told that they’re cheating their patients by not providing photographs because this is an affront to their personal and professional pride. But the fact still remains that if an IVF doctor doesn’t give you photographs of your embryos, you’re getting poor-quality care, until proven otherwise. And this is why patients need to proactively demand embryo photos even before paying a single naya paisa for their IVF treatment. And if clinics don’t give this, this means you’re in the wrong clinic, and you need to find a better one!

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Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.