Does HSV affect conception?

STI and sperm donation

Infection with herpes simplex virus, commonly known as herpes, can be due to either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is mainly transmitted by oral-to-oral contact to cause infection in or around the mouth (oral herpes). However, HSV-1 can also be transmitted through oral-genital contact to cause infection in or around the genital area ( genital herpes). HSV-2 is almost exclusively transmitted through genital-to-genital contact during sex, causing infection in the genital or anal area (genital herpes).

Both oral herpes infections and genital herpes infections are mostly asymptomatic or unrecognised but can cause symptoms of painful blisters or ulcers at the site of infection, ranging from mild to severe.

HSV-1, which causes oral herpes, does cause some cases of genital herpes. You can spread oral herpes to the genitals via oral sex. You can contract genital herpes HSV-2 via vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it – even if that person doesn’t have a sore, or doesn’t know that they have it because they haven’t yet had an outbreak.

Herpes is a virus which can’t be cured. However, it can be managed with medicine, which can prevent future outbreaks and the minimising the chance of you passing it along. There are over the counter and prescription medications that can ease symptoms and speed the recovery a little.

Unlike other STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea which, when untreated, can lead to an infection that might potentially damage the fallopian tubes and uterus, herpes usually doesn’t impact your ability to get pregnant.  But you don want to kiss a donor in any case.   AND if he’s having a genital herpes outbreak, you certainly want to skip that cycle with him.

There’s a rare strain of herpes known as HHV-6A (a different one from that which causes sores or blisters), which can lead to miscarriage and might be the root of unexplained infertility for some. HHV-6A infects the uterine lining and can make it an inhospitable place for an egg to implant. A biopsy of the uterine lining can be done to find out if you have this strain, but if you don’t know you have herpes in the first place, you may not ask to have this done. Currently, there’s no FDA-approved drug available (which means there’s zippo here in Australia)  to treat HHV-6A.

While neonatal herpes is a serious condition, it is also very rare.  Let your doctor know and they can advise you on what’s the best course of action for your personal situation.  Contracting genital herpes during pregnancy is a different story; it can lead to miscarriage or early labour, especially if it occurs in the third trimester.

You must get your STI’s tested before you start on your conception mission with a donor.  You must ensure he’s been tested too before jumping into baby-making with him too.




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