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Zika

Zika virus — which can be acquired from mosquitoes or from sex with a person (male or female) who has the virus — can be passed from a pregnant women to her fetus and cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other problems such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, limb abnormalities, and impaired growth.

Zika virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites, from a pregnant woman to her fetus, sex, and blood transfusions (very likely but not confirmed). Many women and men in the U.S. have been infected when they traveled to or lived in an area that has mosquito-borne transmission. Local transmission (mosquitoes spreading Zika in the area) is already occurring in some parts of the United States, as well as several U.S. territories and numerous other countries. 

CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Zika may also affect pregnancy planning of non-pregnant women and men of reproductive age and their use of contraception. Talk to your healthcare provider to help decide what is best for you. Other things to consider include:

  • Some women and couples planning pregnancy may change their minds and decide to delay until more is known about Zika.
  • Women who want to prevent pregnancy may decide to use contraception more consistently and correctly, or may choose to use more effective, less user-dependent methods, such as contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices.
  • Women and men may be more likely to use condoms consistently and correctly, or abstain from sex, to prevent sexual transmission of Zika.
  • Some people may consider waiting to get pregnant if they have traveled to or live in an area with risk of Zika. The timeframes that men and women should consider waiting are different because Zika can stay in semen longer than other body fluids.
Traveling Partner How Long to Wait

If only the male partner travels to an area with risk of Zika

The couple should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months

  • After the male partner returns, even if he doesn’t have symptoms, or
  • From the start of the male partner’s symptoms or the date he was diagnosed with Zika

If only the female partner travels to an area with risk of Zika

The couple should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 2 months

  • After the female partner returns, even if she doesn’t have symptoms, or
  • From the start of the female partner’s symptoms or the date she was diagnosed with Zika

If both partners travel to an area with risk of Zika

The couple should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months

  • After returning from an area with risk of Zika, even if they don’t have symptoms, or
  • From the start of the male partner’s symptoms or the date he was diagnosed with Zika

The information is based on guidance published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  For more information about CDC guidance, see: www.cdc.gov/zika and https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/zika/women-and-their-partners.html.

 

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Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on January 24, 2017