Herpes and Egg Donation

egg donation, herpes


April 2017

Herpes and Egg Donation

Not surprisingly, every future parent wants their egg donor to be as healthy as possible. The are a lot of cases in egg donation, when donor’s health condition is satisfactory for the procedure but doctors suddenly cancel them from the program. One of the reasons could be the discovery of a health condition, which may or not be connected with donation. Herpes is in the list of viruses that sometimes cause uncertainty and may be the reason behind egg donors not being able to enroll in the program.

What is actually the connection between herpes and egg donation?


What is herpes?

Everyone has heard of herpes. The medical name for the infection is herpes simplex virus (HSV). Virus itself, exists in two types : HSV-1, so-called oral herpes and HSV-2, responsible for genital herpes. Genitals and mouth area are the most common parts of the body, where herpes may appear.  HSV-1 stays in the base of the neck area causing outbreaks and cold sores on mouth or face. On the other hand, HSV-2 stays around the spinal cord in the lower back and outbreaks in the genital area.


Herpes is contagious, which means that it is transmitted from one person to another. While HSV-1 is transmitted via kissing, HSV-2 infection is spread during sexual intercourse.  Herpes is a very commonly spread virus. According to studies, majority of people are not aware of their infection because their symptoms are very mild or not present at all. When we talk about egg donation, genital herpes (HSV-2 virus) is relevant.


Herpes virus stays dormant in the ganglia. Ganglia is a cluster of nerve cells that come from different parts of the body.  Herpes virus doesn’t change it’s location – it stays in the nerve ganglia and doesn’t spread through the body.


What we know : Herpes simplex is virus that lives in the nerve ganglia and doesn’t spread in the other parts of the body. Based on its type and accordingly location(neck or lower back), virus may cause outbreaks on mouth or genital area. Outbreaks normally occur when the immune system of a person is weakened.


The truth about  the infection and egg donation is the following :

  • Herpes Simplex is a virus living latently in the nerve cells and it is not transmitted on eggs.
  • Doctor will need to make sure is that the egg donor does not have any flare-ups during the procedure.


The clinic may have special restrictions and may not be willing to confirm donors with herpes. However, this only makes sense when the donor is experiencing regular outbreaks that are present during the retrieval procedure too. This could also mean that egg donor’s immune system is somewhat weakened and cancelling her from the program could seem reasonable at some point.

Parents do not need to be worried if their egg donor has HSV and is not experiencing recurrence. If she is meeting all of the medical requirements as well as parents’ expectations, there is no need to worry and lose a potentially successful outcome.


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