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Yoxly Awesome Contributors

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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

Embarking on any fertility journey inevitably involves complex emotions and requires physical and mental preparation. In vitro fertilisation (IVF), in particular, requires a whole host of tests, including testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It can also be incredibly helpful to test your hormones before embarking on an IVF journey, as it will give you an indication of how your body may react to the process. Luckily, testing for both STIs and hormones is now more accessible than ever, with brands like Parla and Yoxly making it possible to get to know your body in the comfort of your own home.

Why Do I Need An STI Test Before IVF?

The first reason to test for STIs is that certain infections can actually cause or contribute to infertility, so they are important to rule out right at the beginning of your fertility journey! As many STIs have no symptoms, people may unknowingly have an infection for years. Infections like chlamydia can cause chronic inflammation and damage to the female reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes, and make getting pregnant more difficult. If left untreated in men, chlamydia can cause damage to the testicles and hinder sperm production.

The second reason is that STIs can pass from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Having an undiagnosed and untreated STI during pregnancy can increase the chances of pregnancy loss, pregnancy complications, and in some cases, can adversely affect a baby’s development.

The third reason is to avoid spreading infection, either to your sexual partner(s), or to the healthcare professionals handling your samples during your IVF journey.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, or HFEA, is the governing body that regulates fertility treatments in the UK and requires that all people involved in fertility treatment via a licenced clinic be tested for certain STIs. This includes egg and sperm donors, even if they are anonymous.

So What Do We Test For?


Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI in the UK, affecting both men and women. It is spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, oral and anal sex. It often displays no symptoms; however, it can cause vaginal discharge or pelvic pain in women, and testicular pain in men. Chlamydia is easily treated with a short course of oral antibiotics. Yet if left untreated, it can cause infertility in both sexes by damaging the reproductive organs.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily secretions of an infected person, and often has no noticeable symptoms for many years. HIV attacks the immune system and, if left untreated, can leave a person vulnerable to even the mildest of infections. Without treatment, HIV can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Although HIV cannot be cured, the advent of highly effective medications has made it possible for an HIV-positive mother to give birth to a healthy, HIV-negative baby.


Syphilis is an infection caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. The infection is spread  from person to person through close bodily contact, usually during sex. It can cause symptoms such as a genital ulcer or rash, but it may also go unnoticed, as symptoms can be vague and quickly resolve. Syphilis can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, but it is entirely curable with antibiotic therapy! If left untreated, syphilis in pregnancy is associated with miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, congenital abnormalities and neonatal death.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that is readily transmitted through exposure to the bodily fluids (e.g. blood, semen, vaginal secretions, saliva) of an infected person. This can happen during sex, when sharing toothbrushes or razors, or from mother to baby during pregnancy and/or delivery. Hepatitis B often causes no symptoms, and in fact, most people are able to naturally clear the infection without treatment. However, hepatitis B can also cause serious liver problems, even in those who go on to clear the infection. Hepatitis B is treatable with the use of antiviral medications. Some groups of people (for example, healthcare workers), are routinely vaccinated against hepatitis B, because of their increased risk of exposure. Similarly, babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B are typically recommended vaccination, to prevent them from acquiring the infection.

Hepatitis C

Although less common than hepatitis B, hepatitis C is another viral infection that is transmitted via contact with infected blood. Hepatitis C can also go unnoticed, with vague symptoms such as fever or skin discolouration, and cause serious liver problems. Unfortunately there is no vaccination to protect against hepatitis C, but it can be effectively treated using antiviral medications. Hepatitis C can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy and/or delivery, so it’s important to check for this virus before becoming pregnant.

Other Infections

Although not required by the HFEA, your clinic may ask you to test for other infections, like gonorrhoea, which is also sexually transmitted, rubella and cytomegalovirus (CMV). It’s important to tell your clinic if you have travelled recently, as you may be recommended additional testing for infections such as malaria or Zika virus.

How Are These STIs Tested For?

Screening for chlamydia requires a vaginal swab sample from women, or a urine sample from men. While chlamydia can also be detected in women’s urine, best practice guidelines stipulate that a vaginal swab is more accurate. At Yoxly, we recommend women use vaginal swabs, so you can be confident that your result will be as accurate as possible.

For both women and men, screening for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C requires a blood test.

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Hormone Testing Before IVF

If you have been struggling to conceive for a while, it might be that you have already had some fertility tests to help understand what could be causing the problem. However, if you are earlier in your journey, the chances are that testing would not have been offered to you. 

As with all things when it comes to fertility, taking a proactive stance can help you feel more prepared and confident in taking next steps. The Parla At-Home Hormone Test can not only give you a detailed overview of your fertility but can also give you an indication of how your body may react to IVF and the chance of success.

The finger prick blood test can be obtained at home on the 3rd day of your cycle and then posted back to our labs. You’ll then receive the results within a few days, with a detailed report delivered over email.

What Does The Parla Hormone Test Cover? 

The test covers all of the major hormones involved in reproduction:

  • Anti mullerian hormone (AMH)
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Prolactin (P)
  • Thyroxine (T4)
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)

This specific panel of hormones is not generally offered on the NHS. Testing for Anti Mullerian hormone (AMH), the hormone that helps you understand your egg reserve, is not commonly offered on the NHS - but it’s an incredibly important hormone to understand if you are considering IVF.

Taking fertility testing into your own hands at the start of your fertility journey can help you make the right decisions for you and your partner and save you time and money in the long run by helping you choose the right fertility route for yourself. Likewise, getting a clean bill of sexual health before embarking on your road to parenthood can ensure both you are your partner are safe, which is the most important thing. It can also give you the confidence that there won’t be any unexpected STI-related bumps in the road if you do decide to go down the route of assisted fertility.


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Yoxly's Awesome Contributors

Yoxly's Awesome Contributors (YACs) are a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about public health, and committed to furthering our mission. Yoxly provides a platform where a variety of sexual health topics (some more awkward than others!) can be explored, in an informative and non-judgmental way. If you'd like to become one of Yoxly's Awesome Contributors, contact us!