Does HSV affect conception?

STI and sperm donation

Understanding Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and Contraception

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a common viral infection that can be caused by either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is typically transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, leading to infection in or around the mouth (oral herpes). However, it can also be transmitted through oral-genital contact, resulting in infection in the genital area (genital herpes). On the other hand, HSV-2 is primarily transmitted through genital-to-genital contact during sexual activity, causing infection in the genital or anal area (genital herpes).

Both oral and genital herpes infections often go unnoticed as they are asymptomatic, but they can also manifest with painful blisters or ulcers at the infection site, ranging from mild to severe.

It’s important to note that HSV-1, which commonly causes oral herpes, can also lead to cases of genital herpes when transmitted through oral sex. Likewise, HSV-2 can be contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected individual, even if they do not display visible symptoms or are unaware of their infection due to lack of outbreaks.

Unfortunately, herpes is a virus that cannot be cured, but it can be managed with medication to prevent future outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmission. There are both over-the-counter and prescription medications available that can alleviate symptoms and promote faster recovery.

Unlike other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, which can lead to complications like damage to the fallopian tubes or uterus if left untreated, herpes typically does not affect fertility. However, it’s essential to avoid any intimate contact with a donor who has herpes, especially during an outbreak.

A less common strain of herpes, known as HHV-6A, is distinct from the strains that cause visible sores or blisters. HHV-6A has been linked to miscarriage and unexplained infertility by infecting the uterine lining, making it less hospitable for egg implantation. While a biopsy of the uterine lining can detect this strain, individuals who are unaware of their herpes infection may not request this test. Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved drugs available to treat HHV-6A.

Although neonatal herpes is a serious condition, it is exceedingly rare. If you suspect you have contracted genital herpes during pregnancy, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention as it can lead to miscarriage or premature labor, particularly in the third trimester.

Before embarking on conception with a donor, it is imperative to undergo STI testing to ensure you and your potential partner are infection-free. This precautionary step is vital for safeguarding your reproductive health and overall well-being.

Resources: World Health Organization (WHO)


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