You’ve probably seen the frightening news reports of hundreds of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly, a serious birth defect characterized by abnormal smallness of the head and incomplete brain development. Infectious disease experts have attributed their condition to the Zika virus, carried by two species of mosquitoes as well as through sexual intercourse with an infected person. The Zika virus can affect pregnant women and their babies at any point in the pregnancy and currently testing for Zika is complicated and not readily available, though it most likely will improve in the future.

Of course, this news can be very disconcerting to anyone trying to conceive a baby. However, the risk of catching Zika, particularly in the United States and southern California, is still very low. The effects of this virus only have been known for a short period of time and research is rapidly ongoing, especially for a vaccine. We understand how disconcerting the unknown can be, but rest assured that our doctors, along with the entire reproductive medicine field, are working diligently to inform patients about the latest advances and news.

In April, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a document developed from CDC and FDA reports to help infertility physicians counsel patients about Zika’s impact on reproduction. Additionally, the nonprofit fertility organization Creating a Family released a publication entitled the Definitive Guide to the Zika Virus. This is an excellent resource with current data.

Here are some key takeaways from both documents:

  • If you are planning to conceive, neither you nor your partner should travel to Zika-affected regions.
  • If you or your partner has traveled to countries with active transmission, you should abstain from trying to conceive for at least eight weeks and use contraceptives to avoid pregnancy, even if you are infertile.
  • To date, all Zika virus cases in the U.S. are related to those who have traveled to affected countries or to their sexual partners.
  • If you are using donor sperm, make sure it comes from a sperm bank that follows FDA regulations for a six-month quarantine for infectious diseases. Many egg donor and surrogacy agencies are asking their candidates to follow the same guidelines as for trying to conceive couples.
  • Try to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes by using appropriate insect repellant, such as EPA-registered ones, staying away from mosquito-prone areas, and wearing protective clothing.

You also can track the Zika virus in your state at the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html

At HRC Fertility/Orange County, we are confident about your ability to conceive safely and successfully through infertility treatments and subsequently to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. We urge all patients to learn what they can about Zika and the extremely small risk to infertility patients in the U.S., as well as to take a few, simple precautions. Meanwhile, we will continue to inform you of updates about this virus.

American Society for Reproductive Medicine issues Guidance Document on Zika Virus http://www.asrm.org/American_Society_for_Reproductive_Medicine_Issues_Guidance_Document_on_Zika_Virus/

Creating a Family; Definitive Guide to Zika for Those Trying to Conceive
https://creatingafamily.org/blog/definitive-guide-to-zika-for-those-trying-to-get-pregnant/#whatweknow