In the last week, I've met two people who have mentioned IVF to me. The first was someone I met at a baby group. The second was an aquaintance whose daughter had IVF.
With the first, I outed myself - although I think the person in question was more looking for an audience for the story of her IVF journey, rather than a general chat.
With the second, I didn't. I was too scared! I explained we'd had a baby - I hadn't seen this particular lady for a while. She said
"Ooh! My daughter's having twins!"
I made the appropriate remark, and wondered quietly if they were IVF. She then volunteered:
"She had that IVF, you know."
And I nearly said, "so did I", but then she continued;
"She had that endometriosis, you know. All her insides got scraped out and everything - "
" - and it still didn't work. So then she had to have IVF. And it worked first go. Which was good, because you only get two goes on the NHS. And after that her husband would probably have thrown money at it."
Erm, so, within a couple of seconds, I knew more than I suspect her daughter would have been happy with a random stranger knowing about her medical history and a bit about her family finances too.
I don't know - it's a tricky one. If fertility problems are discussed in hushed tones as "women's problems", then people that go through them are isolated. But then, the reason I really didn't want to tell her about my own IVF after that was that I wouldn't have been very comfortable with her going around saying "That Sushigirl, she had both her tubes cut out of her! And spend loads on treatment!"
I suppose being open or being closed about IVF doesn't guarantee sensitive treatment. But there should be some sort of middle ground. But I don't know what that is, although maybe the key is that I'd have found it less uncomfortable if I heard it direct... it was the fact that the person in question might not know her details were being discussed that made me squirm, rather than the discussion itself.