January 23, 2018
Zika Virus and Sex
Ask the Experts

Zika Virus and Sex

by Berkeley Wellness  

I’m pregnant and my husband just returned from a business trip to South America. Can I get the Zika virus from sex?

Zika virus is normally transmitted by mosquitoes, but sexual transmission does occur. To date, transmission has been solely male to female. It’s a particular danger to pregnant women. In a developing fetus, the virus can cause microcephaly, a small head that usually results from abnormal brain development. The child may have mild development delays, or severe birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that men who have traveled to an area where Zika is active abstain from sex (including fallatio) for the duration of their partner’s pregnancy—or carefully use condoms during sex. A man can be infected without having symptoms, and the virus may be in semen even if it’s no longer detectable in blood.

If a pregnant woman has already had sex with a partner who might have been exposed to Zika, the CDC recommends that she talk to her doctor and get a blood test for the virus.

Even for couples who are not pregnant, the CDC says men who have traveled to a Zika-endemic region might consider abstaining from sex or using condoms consistently and correctly. Our understanding of the Zika virus is evolving, and changing as doctors and scientists learn more.

Also see The Zika Virus: Answers to Your Questions.