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Swine flu, pregnancy & Fertility  -= H1N1 and pregnancy
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Swine flu, pregnancy and fertility
Are you pregnant - trying to get pregnant - or currently undergoing treatments for infertilty? If so you're likely worried about the impending
swine flu pandemic.   Here's what you need to know to calm your fears and stay healthy! 

By Dr. Niels Lauersen

Swine Flu
& Fertility:
What you Need To Know Now!
As the cases of swine flu  continue to rise,  and at least the possibility of a pandemic becomes real,  women who are both pregnant and those undergoing fertility treatments trying to get pregnant, are naturally concerned,  and with good reason.

While pregnancy does not increase the likelihood that  you will get sick,  if you do happen to catch swine flu or any flu  - while pregnant your chance of experiencing life threatening  complications is up to  five times greater than those women who are not pregnant. The risk of miscarriage can also increase if your temperature goes above 101 degrees for a prolonged period of time.

At the same time, you don't want to panic  - particularly over a strain of flu that  may well only impact a small number of  women.  In fact, for most women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, the stress and anxiety of worrying about  getting sick is  more likely to cause them  harm then the threat of the virus itself!

To this end,  what follows are 10  Q & A's  on pregnancy, fertility and swine flu with information I hope will both answer your questions and calm your fears!  Certainly if you  are  already pregnant, or if you are undergoing fertility treatments and you  experience any symptoms of swine flu including sudden fever, chills, body aches, a headache, and sometimes nausea and diarrhea call your doctor immediately.

The Top Ten Pregnancy and Fertility Flu  Q & A's

Q: Can swine flu cause me to have a  miscarriage?
A:  Although we have little data on swine flu in humans,  most doctors believe that it poses no greater risk of miscarriage than any other form of the  flu.  When flu is linked to miscarriage, the threat is primarily related to high fever for a prolonged period of time. If you fever does not rise above 101  degrees, the threat of miscarriage from the flu is relatively small.

Q: Is it safe to take flu medications during pregnancy or when you are trying to get pregnant?

A:  If you contract  the flu during pregnancy, most obstetricians agree it's best to avoid traditional flu medications .  In regards to swine flu, the only medications believed to have an effect are  Oseltamivir,  ( Tamiflu) , and Zanomivir ( Relenza)  and both are  "Pregnancy Category C" drugs, indicating that no clinical studies have been conducted to assess the safety of use during pregnancy. While the medications themselves have not been linked to any adverse outcomes during pregnancy, per se, still, because the effects are untested, it's best to avoid them  during pregnancy if you can.

Q: What if I find out I'm pregnant after taking a course of  flu drugs?

A:  Chances are that the drugs did not harm your baby.  To help ease your mind  further, talk to your doctor about having  ultra sound as soon as possible, just to ensure that your baby is fine.

Q: What can I take if get the flu while I'm pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments?
A:  If your fever goes  over 101 degrees you will definitely need something to control it. As I pointed out earlier, high fever  is the biggest flu-related threat to your pregnancy.   Not only can it increase the risk of miscarriage but studies show it can also increase your baby's risk of neural tube defects ( life threatening malformations of the brain and spine) and may also impact your baby's heart.  According to the March of Dimes, if your doctor approves, the best fever medicine to use  during pregnancy is  acetaminophen (Tylenol).  The regular dosage is two tablets every four hours but again check with your doctor. I believe the same recommendation is appropriate for those trying to get pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments. 

Q: Is it safe to continue taking fertility drugs if I catch the flu ?
A:  The flu virus itself should not interfere with the activity of the fertility drugs.  However, depending on what the drug is, and the stage you are at when you contract the flu, it may be a good idea to cancel your cycle and begin again after the infection  passes. For example, if you are taking Clomid or other drugs to help you produce more eggs,  the presence of the flu virus in your body at the time eggs are being made might potentially interfere with growth and development.

Q: Is it safe to have an IVF embryo transfer while I have the flu  -  if I don't feel that sick?

A: While it may not cause you any harm particularly if you not running  a fever - sometimes the course of an infection is  hard to predict. So, you could go into the procedure feeling okay and end up with a high flu-related  fever just hours after your embryo transfer.  If it is possible, I would recommend that you cancel your transfer  until your flu virus clears. But your doctor is the best one to advise you on this, so check with him or her and make certain to relate all the information about your flu symptoms and diagnosis.

Q: How soon after having the flu is it safe to start treatment  fertility treatments  -or try to get pregnant naturally ?

A: Usually by the time you are approaching your next cycle, the flu will be long gone and out of your body.  However, if you experience complications , such as bronchitis or pneumonia, it it wise to wait until you are completely well and off any antibiotics or other medications before trying to get pregnant. 

Q:  Can the flu  affect a man's fertility?

A: In much the same way that a woman's  menstrual cycle can be affected by changes in her body chemistry, so too can a man's sperm-making abilities be jeopardized by any illness that causes his white blood count to rise. This includes the flu, which  can cause a bout of infertility lasting anywhere from several days to several months, even longer.  Does this mean a man who has the flu can't make a woman pregnant? Of course not pregnancy is always possible!  That said, depending on the strength of his immune system, a man's fertility  is at least somewhat compromised every time he gets sick.  If your partner does contract the flu, make certain he takes plenty of vitamins , and drinks plenty of fluids and  eats a healthy diet following his illness. This will help reduce the impact of the flu on sperm and restore his fertility quicker.

Q: What if I get  pregnant right before I contract  the flu is that dangerous?
Most likely not, particularly if your flu is relatively mild and lasts only a few days. That said, if you  develop flu symptoms including sudden fever, chills, body aches and a headache be certain to call your doctor and let him or her know you might be pregnant.

Q: Is there anything else I can do to protect myself or my baby  baby if I get swine flu while I'm pregnant?
A: Yes, be certain to take your prenatal vitamin, and particularly 1000 mcg of folic acid daily.  In one study from the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities  in England, doctors found that women who took a multivitamin high in folic acid during pregnancy reduced their baby's risk of birth defects even if they ran a fever while pregnant.  You should also avoid overly crowded public spaces, drink plenty of fluids, get adequate rest, and talk to your doctor about taking extra vitamin B complex and Vitamin C until the flu season passes.
Dr. Niels Lauersen is a fertility expert with over 25 years of experience treating infertile patients. He is the director of and the co-author of the best selling book Getting Pregnant:What You Need To Know Now.
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Swine flu, pregnancy and fertility
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