Reproductive Medicine & The Risk of Viruses in Sperm

A new article published in the October issue of medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has many people talking about a new health worry. This groundbreaking study found genetic evidence of 27 viruses existing in human semen.

Some of the viruses discovered in semen by these scientists are well known: Ebola, chikungunya, Zika, Lassa fever, Marburg, mumps, Epstein-Barr, and chicken pox, to name a few.

The scientists temper this finding by reminding readers that the possibility of sexual transmission of these viruses is not known; many of these viruses may not be infectious or even able to replicate. The scientists’ tests detected viral genetic material rather than growth or replication. Still, the existence of these viruses in human semen is startling for many people.

Semen is an ideal environment for viruses because the human immune system largely doesn’t affect the testes. The effect of Zika on humans is a great example: it remains active in the bloodstream only a fraction of the time it can stay active in sperm; for this reason, your infertility doctor may have counseled you to cryopreserve sperm before visiting an active Zika area or cancel a vacation entirely while pursuing infertility treatment.

The authors of this study are calling for more research on the viability of sexual transmission of these viruses, and we at IRMS join them — as practitioners focused on the whole health of our patients, it is essential to learn which of these 27 viruses can be transmitted sexually in order to be able to best counsel against and treat for these infections.

If you are interested in meeting with a specialist to discuss your fertility health and steps towards growing your family, get in touch with us by calling (973) 322-8286 or filling out our online contact form.

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