Zika and Pregnancy
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued warnings to pregnant or women trying to get pregnant that contracting Zika could mean certain birth defects for the baby. Some important facts to know:
- Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus).
- These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
- There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
- Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States. This map shows effected areas.
Jeffrey Obron, MD, concurs with the CDC’s recommendations to be aware of your risks and protect yourself before and during pregnancy. Here are some facts to consider:
Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners.
- Sex includes vaginal, anal, oral sex, and the sharing of sex toys.
- Sexual exposure includes sex without a condom with a person who traveled to or lives in an area with Zika.
- Zika can be passed through sex, even if the person does not have symptoms at the time.
- It can be passed from a person with Zika before their symptoms start, while they have symptoms, and after their symptoms end.
- It may also be passed by a person who has been infected with the virus but never develops symptoms.
- Studies are underway to find out how long Zika stays in the semen and vaginal fluids of people who have Zika, and how long it can be passed to sex partners. Current research shows that Zika can remain in semen longer than in other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood.
Zika Prevention Basics
- Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex.
- Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.
- Condoms include male and female condoms.
- Dental dams (latex or polyurethane sheets) may also be used for certain types of oral sex (mouth to vagina or mouth to anus).
- To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and the sharing of sex toys.
- Not sharing sex toys may reduce the risk of spreading Zika to sex partners.
Be sure to speak with your obstetrician if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant if you are concerned about contracting Zika.