Day 3 embryo failure
3 Replies
Rjacobi - November 23

I've been reading a post regarding day 3 versus day 5. I had 15 eggs retreived, only 13 were mature, and only seven fertilized. On day 3 they implanted one 8 and one 9 celled embryo. Everything seemed to look good. Only 2 of the 4 remaining made it to blast stage. The two implanted did not acheive a pregnancy. Now I only have the 2 frozen day 5 embryos left and I'm concerned about it succeeding. This is a clinic that used to be affiliated with a very large University in my area, and my doctor has been doing this for many years. Why would they not use all day 5 embryos? If this doesn't work what do I do? Should I question the doctor regarding his methods?

A appreciate any input


Dr Smith - November 25

Many programs continue to transfer embryos on Day 3. There are various reasons for this. For more insight, see

used the word "only" a couple of times in your post which suggests to me that you were not properly prepared for what to expect from extended culture of the embryos to Day 5. What you observed was the natural attrition which occurs. On average, at least half of the embryos will fail to develop to the blastocyst stage. This is nature's way of weeding out embryos with compromised developmental potential (i.e. genetic defects).

If the FET with blastocyst stage embryos does not work, I would suggest trying again. Remember, at best, IVF only works half the time.

Good luck.


Rjacobi - November 25

I guess that's my biggest concern. If the FET doesn't work then I will have no embryos left to try again. To start all over it is so cost prohibitive how do people keep going? Wouldn't I be starting from scratch having to develop more eggs to fertilize?


Dr Smith - November 25

Yes, you would be starting over again. In every "crop" of eggs there are only a few (if you're lucky) that have the capacity to reach the blastocyst stage. Then the embryos have to attach, implant and go the distance to a term pregnancy. I don't think people realize just how inefficient human beings are at reproduction in their thirties and forties. Biologically speaking, we were designed to start reproducing as teenagers (not that I am advocating teen pregnancy). Waiting until women are in their 30's and 40's to achieve pregnancy reduces their chances by more than half compared to peak fertility in the late teens. The assisted reproductive technologies bring back hope to women in their 30's and 40's, but that hope must be tethered by the biological reality. The technologies we use are limited and cannot turn back the hands of time.

Sorry, don't want to sound like Dr Doom-and-Gloom here, but I think sometimes people's expectations of IVF are misplaced. Women make all the eggs their ever goning to make shortly before they are born. Eggs, like everything else, have a specific shelf life. When they are stored for prolonged periods of time, they deteriorate. In the lab, we can only fertilize the eggs we get and if the eggs are already genetically damaged, IVF can't fix them. If the FET doesn't work, all you can do is try again for a better "crop" of eggs.



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