Zika virus and fertility treatment

You may be aware of the concerns regarding Zika virus infection and the harm it may cause to a baby during pregnancy. The infection has a possible association with congenital malformations (birth defects), particularly microcephaly, and this is being investigated.

Almost all cases of Zika are acquired via the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. This type of mosquito cannot survive in the UK as the temperature is not consistently high enough for it to breed, therefore an outbreak of the virus in the UK is negligible. However, a very small number of cases of sexual transmission have been reported, and in a limited number of cases, the virus has been shown to be present in semen.

Although the risk to the general population living in the UK is extremely low, the British Fertility Society has recommended that we review the travel history of individuals and couples considering or currently undergoing fertility treatment and gamete donation procedures within the UK.

In the UK, current advice is that those women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should consider avoiding travel to countries where Zika outbreaks are ongoing, in order to reduce the risk of infection and possible fetal microcephaly.

Zika virus and fertility treatment

The situation is still evolving and is regularly updated; the most recent travel, and HFEA advice, was updated (8 November 2016) for individuals considering or undergoing fertility treatment is as follows:

Travellers returning from affected areas should consider the following guidance to minimise the risk of Zika virus transmission:

  • Female traveller, symptomatic or asymptomatic, should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 8 weeks.
  • Male traveller, symptomatic or asymptomatic, should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 6 months.
  • The ECDC also outline that sperm donors should not donate for 8 weeks after sexual contact with a male who travelled to an affected area within the last 28 days or was diagnosed with Zika.

Before embarking upon any fertility treatment with us, we will need to know if you or your partner has recently returned from any of the countries where an outbreak is ongoing.

These countries are listed below:

Anguilla;  Antigua & Barbuda; Argentina; Aruba; Bahamas; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Bolivia; Bonaire, Brazil; British Virgin Islands; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Cayman Islands; Chile; Cook Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Easter Islands; Ecuador; El Salvador; Fiji; Florida USA; French Guiana; French Polynesia; Gabon; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Indonesia; Jamaica; Laos; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Martinique; Mexico; Micronesia; New Caledonia; Nicaragua; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Phillipines; Puerto Rico; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Suriname; St Barthélemy; St Eustatius; St Kitts & Nevis; St Lucia; St Martin; St Vincent & Grenadines; St Maarten; Suriname; Thailand; Tonga; Trinidad & Tobago; Turks & Caicos; US & British Virgin Islands; Venezuela; Vietnam; Vanuatu

Further information can be found at:

Public Health England:  Zika virus (ZIKV): clinical and travel guidance:  https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/zika-virus-zikv-clinical-and-travel-guidance 

HFEA: Updated information on the Zika virus  http://www.hfea.gov.uk/10258.html 

For more information regarding the Zika virus and fertility treatment, please call 01992 78 50 60 and talk to one of our nursing team.


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