Fertility doctors don’t “beat around the bush” and this expression, so apt and so full of innuendo, is the most perfect way to describe every single conversation we’ve had regarding our fertility. I’ve become so accustomed to speaking openly about this sort of stuff that my sense of normal conversational boundaries has been completely warped.
There’s no time for sugar-coating when it comes to fertility investigations so if this is the route you’re headed down, buckle up and get ready to talk about ejaculation and cervical fluid as casually as you would the weather. Say goodbye to your reservations, prudish tendencies and any shred of mystery in your relationship and say hello to very in-depth discussions about your sex life with a doctor who’s roughly the same age as your parents, sometimes even your grandparents.
Embarrassment serves absolutely no purpose in a fertility clinic – it’s a place for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment plans so leave your dignity at the door — along with your underwear. No bushes will be beaten around – trust me.
In one of our earliest appointments, a doctor leaned forward across the desk, peered over the top of her glasses and asked my husband – with a look of complete seriousness on her face – if his testicles were bigger than the Maltesers in a box of Celebrations. He very proudly responded that they were in fact more like Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and the doctor jotted this down in her notebook whilst I sat there in complete bewilderment at their bizarre exchange of words.
My husband was blind to the comedy of the situation because he was so busy being chuffed about his Creme Eggs but I smirked for the remainder of the appointment wondering whether there was some kind of chocolate/testicle measuring scale that gets taught in medical school.
In another appointment, I was given three month’s worth of progesterone to take home and experiment with. I made it as far as the reception desk before the doctor opened her door again and called out my name. Thinking I must’ve forgotten something, I turned around and – across a waiting room full of people (which also included my mum) – she shouted: “It’s twice a day up the anus.” Oh fab. We’ll put that one down as character building.
Without discrediting the very difficult and heart-breaking aspects of fertility struggles, there’s some humor to be found amongst it all – if you’re willing to search for it. Laughter is the best medicine, as the saying goes, and it’s definitely the coping mechanism that my husband and I have adopted throughout this bumpy roller-coaster. So for every trip to the hospital with a blanket-clad pot of semen fastened securely in the back seat; for every month of waxy bum pellets to endure (the less said about these, the better), and for every dinner party playlist that’s interrupted by an advert for ClearBlue ovulation tests blasting through the speaker, there’s a subtle streak of hilarity.
Honestly, if we didn’t laugh about these things, we’d probably cry.
A note to the reader: It’s important to remember that many people dealing with infertility are walking a far harder path than I currently am. My husband and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate for the options we have and we are – at the moment – in a little bubble of hope awaiting our first round of IVF. Many people will have been in my shoes before, walked this path and gone on to experience pain that I can’t even begin to imagine. While I can find some humour in my own circumstances, not everybody will. Fertility, in all its forms, is a sensitive subject and should be approached with the care and consideration it duly warrants.