Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is an asymptomatic virus in the human herpes virus family.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, 50-80% of women and men under the age of 40 are infected carriers of CMV, although most show no symptoms or signs of having ever contracted the virus.
CMV is spread through contact with bodily fluids including: semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, blood, breast milk and urine. The virus sheds into fluids and can be passed through the transmission of these fluids. This is one of the main reasons why the Center for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds or more after any possible contact with semen, vaginal secretions, blood or urine.
Even though CMV is a part of the herpes virus family, like: herpes simplex virus, mononucleosis, chicken pox and Epstein Barr, no physical sores are associated with the contraction of CMV, although in rare cases flu-like symptoms appear upon contraction (similar to a low-grade mono). However, like other herpesviruses, CMV is a lifelong virus, meaning there is no cure once it enters the body’s system. CMV can remain latent in the body throughout an entire lifetime without the afflicted person ever knowing it.
CMV really only becomes an issue when pregnancy, immune deficiency issues (like HIV), and organ transplants come into play. In these cases, CMV can be deadly. This is largely due to the immune suppressing characteristics of CMV, which allows other harmful diseases and viruses to enter into the body because a smaller amount of resisting antibodies are left to fight them off.
Congenital CMV is a result of an infant being born from a mother who carries CMV. This virus is responsible for 1 out of 5 children with CMV infected mothers being born with developmental defects including learning disabilities, mental retardation, vision impairment, deafness and/or psychomotor delays. CMV also accounts for up to 30% of infant deaths.
So, even if you have no idea that you or your partner carries this virus, it can still be passed on through childbirth. For this reason, CMV is a part of the TORCH panel blood test performed on pregnant women. Other medical issues the TORCH test looks for are: toxoplasmosis, rubella, herpes simplex and syphilis.
The CDC lists CMV as a sexually transmitted disease. Using preventative protection such as Durex condoms, LifeStyles condoms and Lixx dental dams consistently and correctly during all sexual interactions will dramatically and drastically increase your chances of not contracting CMV through sexual contact. If you are unsure about exactly how to use these products to be safer during sex, read more about them in these articles, “How to Use a Condom” and “How to Use a Dental Dam.”