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The pink lines in COVID-19 rapid tests are giving me infertility PTSD. Turns out I'm not alone.

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Insider
 2022-01-19
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For those going through infertility, at-home COVID-19 tests can be triggering.
  • It took me nine rounds of in vitro fertilization and four years to get pregnant with my daughter.
  • I peed on so many pregnancy tests in my journey that I could build a dollhouse with all of them.
  • The pink lines in COVID-19 tests are giving me PTSD from when we were trying to conceive.

My heart was pounding. My head felt faint. I didn't think I could wait so long for an answer. I couldn't believe I was anxious from at-home tests, yet again.

During my four years of infertility, at-home pregnancy tests made me nervous. It took four years , 10 doctors, nine rounds of in vitro fertilization , and four miscarriages to have our daughter.

During that time, I peed on so many sticks I could have built a dollhouse out of them.

Our daughter is now 6, and two years into the pandemic, these at-home rapid COVID-19 tests are giving me infertility PTSD.

Yes, in those days I was desperately hoping for a second line, even posting them in my infertility groups dedicated to deciphering pregnancy tests — "do y'all think this is a shadow or a pregnancy line? " But these days I'm desperately hoping for a second line not to show up because we don't want to get COVID-19.

I'm not the only one having trouble with these tests

For anyone who has gone through infertility or tried for a while to get pregnant, the at-home tests can bring up a lot of old feelings.

"I'm having horrible flashbacks to my fertility treatments," said Amy Bennett, who spent more than three years doing IVF to have her second daughter, who is now 4.

For her seven rounds of IVF, she must have used dozens of pregnancy tests, she said. "It was very stressful. Sometimes I would hide in the bathroom and not tell my husband I was taking a pregnancy test. I was embarrassed, but I needed to have control."

When her younger daughter was exposed to COVID-19 in school right before Christmas, Bennett also used more than a dozen at-home rapid tests. "I sat there looking at the test thinking, 'Oh, my god, I never thought I would be focusing on these types of tests again .'"

Bennett quarantined her family of four for 10 days and kept testing them. It wasn't only the testing that was affecting her mental health, but the same feeling of waiting on life that she had while going through IVF.

"I spent three years living my life based on what I needed to do for my fertility treatments, and now it's the same thing," she said, as others went on vacation, had family celebrations, and lived their lives without thinking twice.

It took over a month for her whole family to test positive.

She said the experience of waiting on the at-home tests was the same. "It's the same feeling, watching the fluid of the test move across the strip, and when there's a splinter, you can tell right away," she said.

The only difference between the positive results is "when you're doing a pregnancy test, this is when you get happy, but when it's a COVID test, you take out the tequila and the chocolate."

It's also not easy for women experiencing infertility during the pandemic. For many, it has meant delayed or canceled treatments and putting their lives on hold. For others, it's the constant anxiety of testing for both.

"I took two tests that day," my friend Rachel, who requested we only use her first name to keep her fertility journey private, told me this summer when she tested for COVID-19 before going into her fertility clinic. "The one that I desperately wanted to be positive, I found out was negative, and the one that I assumed would be negative but it turned out to be positive."

Amy Klein is the author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment Without Losing Your Mind.

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