What You Need to Know if You are Planning to Conceive
The Zika virus is spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms are usually mild and include low grade fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The symptoms begin 3-7 days after the mosquito bite and may last for several days to a week. Some people may not even know they have been infected. Infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy has been associated with severe birth defects in the baby, namely microcephaly (small brain). It is therefore advisable that women who are pregnant or who are planning to conceive take precautions to avoid contracting this virus. Outbreaks of active Zika infection are currently found in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The pattern of these outbreaks is rapidly evolving. A current list of countries with active Zika outbreaks can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website (www.cdc.gov). The safest approach for pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant is to avoid travel to these countries. If you do travel to one of these countries you should take appropriate measures to prevent mosquito bites (see CDC website for specific measures to take).
If a woman has traveled to a country with active Zika outbreaks, she should wait a minimum of 8 weeks before attempting pregnancy, even if she has no symptoms of infection. If infected with the Zika virus, pregnancy should be delayed for 6 months.The Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. A woman whose male partner has traveled to a Zika country should not attempt pregnancy with him for at least 8 weeks after his return, if he has no symptoms of infection. Condoms should be used during this interval. If the man does have symptoms of infection then condoms should be used and no pregnancy attempted for at least 6 months after exposure.
Arkansas Fertility & Gynecology recommends that no fertility treatment should be undertaken (ovulation induction, IUI, IVF, etc.) for at least 8 weeks if one partner has traveled to a country with active Zika infection.
If you have traveled to a Zika country and have developed symptoms suggestive of an infection, you should consult your primary care doctor as further blood testing is recommended. The upcoming summer travel season is likely to result in changes in countries with Zika infection. As we learn more about this viral infection in pregnant women our recommendations may change also. We strongly recommend you refer to the CDC website (www.cdc.gov) and consult your physician to keep abreast of the latest recommendations.