Calling all Hikers: Beware of Lyme Disease


It is that time of year out here in California, a time for hikers and a time for ticks.

Hiking is a great sport to do for those going through fertility treatment. It allows you to be outside enjoying our beautiful weather, looking out to the horizon with hope for the future and thinking about something other than your next fertility injection. It doesn’t involve bouncing and jumping, so it’s safe when your ovaries are enlarged, yet it can definitely get your heart rate up and elevate your mood. When you are pregnant you need to be careful of roots and rocks as your balance is off and your joints are loose, but hiking is still a safe sport.

However, ticks also love this weather and so you need to be careful to avoid getting a tick bite that may carry Lyme disease. And if you do find a tick on yourself, you need to know what to do.

  • First, to avoid the ticks, stay out of high grass, wear long pants, tuck your pants into your socks, and wear light colors so you can see black ticks. Do a tick check for you and your dog after a hike.
  • Second, if you see a tick use a tick removal kits (or make a home kit) to safely remove the tick and then examine it to see if it could carry Lyme disease. Locally there are facilities that can test a tick if a suspicion exists.
  • Thirdly, if you get bit by a tick see your doctor. Early treatment is important. If you see a rash (bull’s eye) that blisters know that this is the most classic rash from Lyme disease. Headache, flu-like symptoms, and joint pain are other symptoms.

While there is not a lot of medical literature about Lyme disease and infertility, it does appear to be associated with immune dysfunction and with endometriosis. There also appears to be an association with ectopic or tubal pregnancies (perhaps through tubal scarring from endometriosis.) Of course these are just associations, not causation, but certainly something worth telling your fertility doctor about.

Don’t let this precautionary advice scare you away from hiking. Just be smart, and be safe.

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