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Canceled IVF Cycles

While many in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles proceed normally, not all are without complications. There are some problems that can occur and cause IVF cycles to be delayed or canceled. It is important to be aware of these potential problems before undergoing treatment.

Ovarian Cysts

During pre-treatment screening, an ultrasound will check for ovarian cysts. If a cyst is present, your IVF cycle start date may be delayed. In general, most cysts will clear up on their own in one or two months. Sometimes medication is provided to help suppress a cyst.

Poor Response to Stimulation Drugs

Some women respond poorly to the fertility medications used to stimulate the ovaries, and they will not produce enough eggs. Usually, if a patient grows fewer than three follicles, the chances of achieving pregnancy are poor. This low yield will often result in a canceled IVF cycle, and a different medication regimen may be considered for any subsequent cycles.


Just as your ovaries can “under-react” to fertility drugs, they can “over-react” as well. An excessive response to fertility medications may result in the development of too many follicles. This increases the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, and the cycle may be cancelled. Subsequent cycles will be tried with lower doses of medication.

Drop in Estradiol Level

Estradiol is a type of estrogen that is produced in your ovaries. As egg follicles develop, they secrete this hormone which helps trigger the rest of the reproductive cycle. If there is an unexpected drop in this hormone level during a cycle, there may be a problem with follicle development, and the cycle may be cancelled.

Few or No Eggs Retrieved

Normally, an ultrasound examination will detect the number of mature eggs prior to retrieval, but in rare cases, fewer eggs than expected are collected. In these situations, the next course of treatment will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Poor Fertilization

Poor egg or sperm quality may hinder the fertilization process and yield a low number of embryos. It is very uncommon for there to be no fertilization at all, but in these cases the cycle will have to be abandoned.


If either partner falls ill or has high fever during treatment, the IVF cycle may need to be canceled.

Although canceling a cycle can be very disappointing, it is often a necessary course of action. Abandoning a cycle may help you avoid more serious complications and ensure a better chance of success in the future. If canceling the cycle becomes necessary, you will be asked to schedule an appointment with your fertility doctor to make decisions regarding future treatment.


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