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Zika Virus & Fertility Treatment Concerns? Medical Monday Answers Blog Feature
Lisa Rosenthal

By: Lisa Rosenthal on February 8th, 2016

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Zika Virus & Fertility Treatment Concerns? Medical Monday Answers

News | Infertility Coverage

Zika Virus Fertility ConcernsToday is Medical Monday and I’m going to give some updates on fertility concerns that are out there.


First and foremost, let’s get the question answered about  Zika precautions. This is the official response from the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) board certified Reproductive Endocrinologists. The doctors at RMACT, (Dr’s Mark Leondires, Spencer Richlin, Joshua Hurwitz, Cynthia Murdock, Shaun Williams) have agreed that the statement below is their answer to the questions that are circulating on how to ensure that the correct precautions are taken to avoid this virus. Our doctors know you want to know. Here’s their best answer based on what they know. 

Fertility Doctors Respond to Zika Virus Concerns

“This is what we are telling patients.  Right now information is changing on a daily basis.  We can't give any more advice than this at this time because the information just isn't out there yet.” Said Dr. Murdock.

“Travel is not recommended for pregnant women and women attempting pregnancy to Zika affected areas.  As new reports of Zika are appearing daily it is necessary to consult the CDC website for the most up to date information.  Women should not have unprotected intercourse with a male partner who has recently traveled to a Zika affected area for the duration of the incubation period of the virus.  Unfortunately the exact duration of the incubation is unclear at this time.”

Thank you to Dr. Cynthia Murdock for discussing with the other doctors and coming up with a specific statement.  We have provided a link to the CDC website and the specific page in which to see the most updated information.

From all of us at RMACT, we want to answer your questions. But we also want to give reliable, accurate information. We neither want to scare you nor reassure you inappropriately. For now, the answer above is the one that we are most comfortable with disseminating.

Rest assured that we know you’re concerned, as we are. As we know more, we will share more about the Zika virus.

Military Covers Certain Costs of Egg & Sperm Freezing

Back to a blog that was published last week, on the Military taking steps to freeze eggs and sperm. In speaking to the Manager of Finance at RMACT, Kimone Nicholson, I discovered how limited this program was. Ms. Nicholson pointed out that while the Defense Department has taken this step to address fertility preservation before active duty, it falls far short of comprehensive coverage.

Specifically, while freezing of gametes is covered, neither the retrieval nor the medication needed is being covered. It is only the actual freezing that will be covered by the Military. While this is a step in the right direction, it has to be considered a baby step. Particularly in regards to retrieving gametes (eggs or sperm) from a woman, it is a costly venture. For men, with semen donation, that is a different matter, given the different protocols that need to be used to get the gametes. 

For women, to be able to have the coverage to freeze eggs but not retrieve them could be seen as a ineffective gesture as the bulk of the cost is in the retrieval. I’m not sure how else you could see it. For men, retrieving sperm is far simpler,  and far less costly, mainly through masturbation and ejaculation.

So a far smaller step for women than it first seemed which is unfortunate.

Thanks to the two RMACT team members who came forward this past week to help clarify these issues. Dr. Murdock for discussing with the other physicians and drafting an agreed upon statement about the Zika virus and Ms. Nicholson for clarifying what the Defense Department was actually offering in the freezing of eggs and sperm.

Very reassuring to be able to have this type of professional input on the aspects of fertility that we are all concerned about. That’s what having a team is all about.

About Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.