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Press releases and statements

HFEA Zika Virus guidance - November 2016 update

Update about the Zika virus means fertility clinics should be extra vigilant when considering people for fertility treatment or gamete donation.

Whilst the situation is still evolving and given the potentially significant consequences for a pregnancy if Zika is transmitted via the sperm, patients and donors should be asked about recent travel.

In light of a recentĀ ECDC risk assessment update the following recommendations have been updated, with separate advice for males and females returning from Zika affected areas.

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.

As stated previously, sperm donors who have been infected with Zika virus should be deferred from donation for six months unless the semen tests negative for Zika virus RNA by nucleic acid testing (NAT). Asymptomatic sperm donors should be deferred for six months after return unless the semen tests negative for Zika virus by NAT. Further to this the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO) have provided recommendations relating to stored sperm, advising that it is not necessary to reject all stored donated samples.

Page last updated: 08 November 2016