How Does Hepatitis Affect Fertility?

We have all heard of Hepatitis and different types of Hepatitis virus. Hepatitis, a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver, varies from Hepatitis A to Hepatitis G and is found across the globe. In India alone, 52 million are infected annually out of 400 million around the world. It could be a simple curable condition or at advanced phases causes liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis, as mentioned, is caused by infection of a virus. It can also be a result of other infections, intake of alcohol and drugs or caused through an autoimmune disease (autoimmune diseases are conditions arising from an abnormal immune response to a normal body part)


Out of all the different kinds of Hepatitis, Hepatitis B or commonly known as HBV is of importance to us. Hepatitis B virus’ protein, a more serious type of hepatitis, which is 50 to 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus is said to affect fertility in men. In the case of Hepatitis C,  it causes problems including liver cancer. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood or sexual contact through bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva of an infected person. Persons with multiple sexual partners are more prone to contract Hepatitis B. It is said that the infection trace can be found in infected persons for a period of up to 6 months and chances of transmission are higher. It results in Low Sperm Motility, thereby reducing the percentage of fertilization chances by more than 50%. It also affects sperm count, testosterone levels, viability, and morphology. Those infected with Hepatitis B are 1.59 times more likely to experience infertility than individuals not infected. 


However, it does not affect the functioning of reproductivity per se in women, i.e, it does not have effect on functioning of ovaries or uterine glands. Acute Hepatitis B is found in one or two cases for every 1000 pregnancies but no evidence has been found that HBV infection is common in pregnancy. In case of acute (severe) infections, instances of spontaneous abortions during the first trimester is increased. If the infection is acute during the third trimester, there are increased chances for preterm labour, resulting in premature birth of the child. Transmission to the foetus and newborn occurs through intrapartum exposure, transplacental transmission and through breastfeeding accordingly and chances for the same are about 20-30% in the absence of active or passive immunity. When an individual is severely infected, the transmission rate increases by 80 to 90% in Hepatitis B. In cases of Hepatitis C, the prevalence among newborns is seen to be between 2.3 to 4.5%  and by 11% in cases of severe infection. Therefore, the role that an obstetrician-gynecologist plays is very important. Hepatitis C during pregnancy is not seen to cause any adverse effect except in premenopausal stages where it is known to cause failure in ovarian functioning.

Data with regards to contraction of Hepatitis due to adoption of any kind of Assisted Reproduction Method is limited and controversial. There are concerns regarding laboratory/hospital-related infections occurring in assisted reproductive clinics. Therefore, testing for HBV and HCV is prescribed to high-risk couples seeking fertility treatment to reduce the chances of transmission.

With the development of science and technology, vaccination for Hepatitis B is available. It is admissible to pregnant women as well as young mothers within 12 hours of birth. To reduce the potential of transmission risk, methods such as sperm washing and preservation of semen samples in nitrogen vapor state instead of liquid state are also employed. Drugs such as Interferon and Ribavirin are also used. It is also important to counsel women and couples who have tested positive for Hepatitis about the risk of transmission to the fetus and those who opt for fertility treatment. Assisted reproductive techniques should be adopted only after proper treatment is given and the viral load is reduced 


Given the above complications, it is important to consult the best of experts before one plan to conceive through assisted reproduction methods. Janisthaa Fertility Clinic & Hospital at Basveshwarnagar, Bengaluru provides the best of treatment with state-of-the-art technology under the leadership of Dr. Shwetha Baratikkae. For further information and appointment, visit http://jnaistha.local/ or call +91 7619198083.