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CMV (Cytomegalovirus): What is it and how can it affect me and my baby?

What is CMV and CMV status?

You have probably come across the term CMV status (to be CMV positive or CMV negative). In medical terms CMV is refered to as Cytomegalovirus. Especially if you are pregnant or looking to use donor sperm for fertility treatment. Here you can learn about CMV, how it may affect you and your baby and know if you should use a sperm donor with a positive or negative CMV status.

What is CMV (Cytomegalovirus)?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is related to the herpes virus and is a common virus that can affect anyone. You can get infected through body fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, sperm and breast milk. Most people will get infected with the virus during childhood or early adulthood. Once infected, the virus lies dormant in the body forever, with a little risk of getting reactivated. This is known as a recurrent CMV infection.

What are the most common CMV symptoms?

The majority are without any symptoms but a few may develop fever, sore throat and headache. It can be hard to spot the symptoms for a CMV infections, since they are similar to the symptoms of a typical flu. Here below we have made a list of the most common symptoms of CMV:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen glands

If you experience any of these symptoms while being pregnant, you should consider contacting your doctor to schedule an appointment.

What is CMV status and what does it mean to be CMV positive?

Your CMV Status means to be either CMV positive or CMV negative. The first time you get infected with CMV you create antibodies called CMV IgM and CMV IgG. IgM antibodies are present during an acute infection, IgG antibodies stay forever.

  • When no IgM antibodies nor IgG antibodies are present a person is CMV negative. This means that he/she has never been infected by CMV.
  • When no IgM antibodies are present, but IgG antibodies are present, a person is CMV positive. This means that he/she has had a CMV infection in the past but does not have an acute infection.
  • When IgM and IgG antibodies are present, there is an acute infection. If a sperm donor has an acute infection with CMV, he/she cannot donate in that period.
Facts about CMV and the use of a sperm donor

What is CMV status and what does it mean to be CMV positive?

We accept both donors with positive and negative IgG as long as it is combined with a negative IgM (no current infection). The donors with a negative CMV status in the Sperm Donor Search have never had a CMV infection. Donors with a positive CMV status in the donor Search have previously had a CMV infection and have antibodies.

Some doctors say that sperm donors who are tested IgG positive (which means they have previously had the infection) may only be used for women who themselves are IgG positive. This means that if you know that you have previously been infected with CMV, you can use a sperm donor with a positive CMV status.

Not all countries require CMV screening. Therefore, the donors who have no CMV status shown in the Donor Search have not and will not be screened for CMV.

How Cryos screen sperm donors for CMV status

At Cryos, we perform sperm donor screening on alle the candidates for a wide variety of viruses and genetic disorders. We also screen our donors for their CMV status to accommodate use in some countries. We accept only donors who have tested IgM negative. This means that the donors do not have an active CMV infection.

Does CMV affect your baby

Chances of transmitting CMV to your baby

It depends on when you became infected the first time. Approximately 50% of all women already have antibodies to CMV before they get pregnant because they have already been infected. You can risk a reactivation of the infection during pregnancy, but the risk of passing the virus to your baby during a recurrent infection is low (about 1-2 %). So, if you got your first CMV infection before your pregnancy, the risk of passing on the virus to your baby is very small.

If you are infected with CMV for the very first time during pregnancy, the chance of passing on the virus to your baby is higher.

Will my baby be affected by an acute CMV infection?

Most babies with a CMV infection never show signs or have any health problems. Some babies infected with the virus during pregnancy may, however, have health problems that are apparent at birth or develop later during infancy or childhood. If you want to know more about CMV, we recommend that you speak with your doctor or clinic for advice.

If you are about to choose a sperm donor for fertility treatment, you are also welcome to contact Cryos’ Customer Care. We are ready to help you with any concern.

Common FAQ's on CMV (Cytomegalovirus)

  • Why is CMV status important?
    It is important to focus on CMV status while trying to become pregnant, since it sometimes causes problems in the baby. Therefore, we screen our sperm donors to make sure they are not CMV positive.
  • How do you reduce your chances of CMV (Cytomegalovirus)?
    Cytomegalovirus is mainly spread through close contact, seuxal contact, and through body fluids. Therefore, if you are a pregnant woman working closely with children or people that might have an active CMV status, you need to be careful.
  • Is CMV considered an STD?
    While being a member of the herpes family, the CMV infection is not considered as an STD.
  • How contagious is CMV?
    Cytomegalovirus is only contagious when active and only transmits through close contact with the infected.