Family planning and Zika: local fertility expert offers advice

VIDEO: Family planning and Zika: local fertility expert offers advice

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - A local fertility expert from Coastal Fertility Specialists has advice on planning for a child as Zika concerns rise in South Carolina.

Kristen Reavis says she'll never forget the day she found out she was pregnant with twins after completing fertility treatments.

"My husband and I had been trying for a while, we made the decision to go to Coastal relatively quick," Reavis said. "If something was wrong we wanted to know sooner rather than later."

Like most expecting parents, they had some questions for her doctor about Zika.

"I asked her this Zika thing, no big deal?" Reavis said. "She was like actually it is and hearing her say that it at least caused me to pause and think about it."

It wasn't going to stop her from starting a family but she's taking precautions to protect herself from mosquito bites. So far no cases of Zika in South Carolina have been spread by mosquitoes though the state has the type of mosquitos that could transmit it.

Dr. John Schnorr is a the Medical Director at Coastal Fertility Specialist and the Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology for the Medical University of South Carolina.

"We think that it's a lower risk to get pregnant now even with the Zika scare than delaying reproduction for two to three years," Dr. Schnorr said.

He says some of his patients have delayed their fertility treatments from fear of Zika that has been linked to birth defects resulting in an under-developed brain. He explains why there's a greater risk in waiting to have children, the factor being time.

"So if a woman decides shes going to wait a year or two to have a child because she's worried about Zika the risks would be she's going to have a lower chance of pregnancy two years from now, higher chance of miscarriage two years from now and a higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect," he said.

He says there are new commercial based tests you can use to find out if you have Zika. They cost about $600 and some insurance plans cover it.

Dr. Schnorr advises people to follow the CDC guidelines on protecting yourself like staying away from Zika prone areas and wearing long sleeves and bug repellent. Kristen also limits her time outside.

"I'm sort of on the end of I'm not going to travel to Brazil right now, but I'm not really freaking out," she said.  "I have other friends who check the CDC website every single day [their] doctor all time."

Dr. Schnorr says if you are planning to traveling to an area that has a high risk for Zika transmission then you should delay your plans to have a child.

The CDC recommends that women wait 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant and men should wait at least 6 months to have unprotected sex.

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