There are many glamorous things associated with infertility, things that become normal yet other people still baulk at having to have done. Internal scans, the public nature of your sex life, constant criticism of your insides, regular blood tests the list is endless. One of the things that for me tops this list is the need to have all your STD tests up to date. There is something somehow very very personal about needing to get a clean bill of sexual health in order to reproduce and something that in many ways still feels taboo.
I had my first HIV test when I was pregnant the first time, and whilst I was 99% certain I was going to come back negative I felt a degree of relief when it did. After all it is one of those things that you can have without knowing. Plus I remember when it was still taboo to admit you had had the test, and if you admitted that you had had a test, even if negative it could bump up your insurance premium as you obviously thought you were at risk – how mad is that? It did however feel strange to have another one 3 months later and then another one 6 months after that, and certainly the fear was much less after the first one. Still I think it is good for all pregnant women to be tested, and for normal fertile women their testing would be spread out over a number of years.
The good old NHS will fund the STD tests required for ivf even if they are funding nothing else which is great and a saving of probably a couple of hundred pounds, hurrah! The downside of this, in our area is that you have to go to the glamour of the Sexual Health Clinic. Villa Boy and I have now been twice for the full monty of tests. The first time we went was Valentines day in 2011, well it was the only morning we could both skive off of work to go, this year we went on February 29th. On both occasions when people have asked how we have celebrated the day I have felt unable to tell them the truth and I am not sure why. I suppose it is still a taboo subject isn’t it? getting yourself tested for STDs infers that you may think you have one. My mother was intrigued about what the other people in the clinic were like, when I said well they looked like Villa Boy and I in the main she pulled a face and said well I suppose all sorts of people get “caught out” as if it were something sordid. That made me angry surely in this day and age we are all grown up and sensible enough to know that ivf aside being screened regularly is a good thing? Or maybe not in my mothers case!?
Anyhow our local clinic is amazingly civilised and very organised. We didn’t have to wait long and miraculously were both called at the same time. The nurse I booked in with complained that they should have a quick list for ivf rather than having to list each test separately, it seemed odd that they didn’t given that apparently ivf referrals is a big chunk of their work. Secondly she then apologised for presuming that I didn’t think I was at risk of anythig since my last test, and then asked if I had had more than 1 partner in the last 12 months, I replied by saying that I wasn’t sure I should be doing IVF if I had! She then said “is it OK if I presume you don’t want condoms?!” er yes, although as I pointed out in the ivf journey stranger things have happened than being asked to use contraceptive. All in all we were in and out fairly quickly and celebrated by going to the pub for dinner, so the evening wasn’t all bad! 7 days later we were texted our results, and thankfully we are both clear of everything once again. It makes me wonder what happens if you’re not and how distressing that must be to have to delay fertility treatment to be treated for something you didn’t know you had.