Horrible experience with first ICSI - is it mostly my fault?


Hi All,

I am new, just went through my first unsuccessful ICSI cycle.

I found the whole experience to be horrid. It’s not like I was not aware that the odds against getting pregnant was higher than success. It was still horrible to get the news though.

Even worse was how negative I found the whole experience at the clinic.

All went well until I had no reaction after the weekend duty sister injected me with Cetrotide. I always had a severe local reaction before and since that injection. I went back to the clinic to ask her if she could perhaps check the unused syringes of solvent to see if she possibly had used the wrong one (I was told they keep the unused ones to use when training new patients to give their own injections, so if there was one cetrotide solvent with all the gonal F ones, we would know that that was the case). She gave me a go-to-hell look, telling me that she had been doing this for 15 years and there was no way she could check, she’d thrown everything away but my body is probably just getting used to the injections. (Really? - I was taught that allergic reactions get worse with stimuation, not better - maybe I can try to get rid of my allergy to bees by getting stung every day so that my body can get used to it!(Sorry - That is a bit nasty; at least I did not tell her that even though I told my hubby) Btw, when she was busy mixing the cetrotide up she said " this has gone all funny now", which had me stressing already.

I went to get my chemist’s opinion and he said I should go to my Dr ASAP, because it did not sound right to him. So I spent almost 3 hours at my GP’s, who repeatedly left messages for the fertility specialist who had weekend emergency duty to call him back. When he eventually did, he said it’s fine, sometimes patients don’t show a reaction.

When I went back on Monday, I had the dubious pleasure, after specifically asking for another sister, to have her take my card again, then start off by sighing, pulling out the pamphlets and telling me as if I were a troublesome child “To put your mind at ease, the pamphlet says…” So I cut her short and said I went through it all with my GP on Saturday already. Really!? If she had just told me when I went to her with my concerns that even if she had mixed up the solvents it would still have been all right, then it would have saved me a few hundred rand, half a day and a lot of stress.

After the egg retrieval, the embryologist phoned daily for the first 3 days. Every day she told me the embryos were doing extremely well and that if they were strong and many (8 were growing) I’d have a day 5 transfer. Day 3 she told me they are doing very well and that she would not be phoning me day 4 because they do not look at the embryos on day 4. Day 5 started with the Doc telling me that 2 were “adequate” and would be transferred and the rest were not good. He told me that there were no use freezing the others because with the embryoscope, they don’t only know at what stage the embryos are but also how they got to that stage, so they know the exact quality.

I know the embryoscope gives info on the embryos every 20 mins, without having to remove them form incubation. Who is lying- the embryologist who said they do not look at the embryos on day 4 or the Doc who said they were monitored by embryoscope??

In theatre, the embryologist said they don’t know if the embies can be frozen yet because all were still compacting. They would give them another 2 days to see if they got to blastocyst stage.

No problems with the transfer.

The next day, I got an email stating “
We would like to inform you that, unfortunately, there were no embryos suitable for freezing.
Best of Luck”. That sucked. I would have at least thought that they could give me a call rather than emailing or at the very least not have “LIKED” to inform me that 6 potential children of mine had been flushed.

Of course, 3 days before my blood test, I just knew that the two that were inside of me did not grow. I could feel how my body was reacting slightly different than what it had the days before.

On Women’s day, the same sister I prefer not to deal with was on duty and had the pleasure of telling me that the test was negative, I can stop taking my pills. She did not even discuss intercourse (I read she was supposed to in the document the following day, when I had eventually stopped crying long enough to read through it again).

I have a follow-up chat with the doc scheduled for Thursday. At the moment I feel like telling him to make copies of everything in my file so that I can take it to another clinic.

Unfortunately I don’t know if that will be a wise move. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe I am just being difficult because I am a veterinarian and I want all the details and explanations of everything because I am used to it. I really don’t know. What do you think?


Whether you stay in that clinic or not, I would advise you to learn how to inject yourself. It is really easy.
Second, id you are not satisfied with their practice, go for another clinic. I made a mistake and stayed too long in one place. I don’t like when staff is rude or make you feel stressed because the overall process is stressful enough. However, my policy is to keep quiet only once. We are not given free ivf so to be forced to keep our mouth shut.


I’m sorry you had such an awful experience. It sounds like their bedside manner is lacking quite a bit!

I’ve only done one cycle of IVF, and we did not do ICSI. The only thing I can verify is that the standards for freezing at some clinics are much, much higher than I expected. We had 10 follicles, all fertilize and looked good at day 3. We opted to only transfer one at day 5, and NONE of the other 9 made it to freeze, including the other one we almost transferred at day 5. They clinic warned me up front that they have the strictest standards, but I was still surprised when none of them made it. For the record, I called them about the freezing results…I’m guessing they would’ve called me eventually. An e-mail is pretty lame!!

If nothing else, looking at another clinic is worth it. You already have apprehensions about this place, and a bad taste in your mouth. You want to start your second cycle with a positive outlook and excitement towards getting your BFP…not feeling skeptical about everything they are doing. Just a suggestion. Best wishes in whatever you choose!!


While I agree their bedside manner is lacking I dont think your embryo experience is abnormal. I agree u should do the injections yourself as a nurse I can tell u the first thing I do is dispose of needles and syringes thats normal practice. On day 3 I had 11 strong embryos all but 3 arrested from then to day 5. With mu first cycke out of 29 embryos only 1 made it to blast do u have a sperm issue their dna replication doesnt take over till day 4. My opinion if u dont trust them u need to go else where reguardless of right or wrong u need to have confidence in the people in charge of your care im so sorry about your negative my thoughts are with u